“The white boys bruised differently than the black boys and called it the Ice Cream Factory because you came out with bruises of every color. The black boys called it the White House because that was its official name and it fit and didn’t need to be embellished. The White House delivered the law and everybody obeyed.”
Colson Whitehead’s book after Underground Railroad tells the story of a reform school, the Black boys in the school, the devastating impact of the school and the system that enables it.
This novel has similar strengths (based on a true story, the concept, the research and historical truth behind the concept, the heft of the prose in the best parts) and weaknesses (underdeveloped secondary characters, the sometimes less inspired prose in transitional plot phases) as Underground Railroad. It’s still a great book that is important and deserving of its success and accolades.
But it also made me realize how the important, successful, critically acclaimed, powerful ™ books by and about Black people too often focus on (historical) hurt and pain. I could use some recommendations for important, successful, powerful ™ books about Black joy. Not because books like Nickel Boys or Underground Railroad make white people like me uncomfortable – that’s the best part about Whitehead’s work – but because stories of joy and success need to be celebrated and supported, too. Especially in these times.
A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll and the connected article results in what they call a “warning for Democrats: Americans are largely against the country becoming more politically correct.” The question in the poll, like the framing of the article, is.. odd.The full question is:
“In general, are you in favor of the United States becoming more politically correct and like when people are being more sensitive in their comments about others, or are you against the country becoming more politically correct and upset that there are too many things people can’t say anymore?”
Asma Khalid called this a good definition of politcal correctness in the most recent episode of the NPR Politics podcast. I don’t think so. The question is neitehr a fitting definition of politcal correctness nor a neutral one, but rather a definition that at the very least leans towards the use of the term “political correctness” as a right-wing fighting word. It connects “politcal correctness” to censorship.
Not using certain words and supporting certain concepts isn’t about censorship, it’s about not continuing to hurt people.
All You Fascists Bound To Lose
Stumbled over this Woody Guthrie cut from a 1940s radio broadcast. The other performers are Sonny Terry, Pete Seefer and Cisco Houston (probably.)
BRB, need to dust off my guitar.
I couldn’t express my annoyance with this in only 140-characters, so here’s a short blog post:
For his part, Mike Pence is also very, very committed to ensuring that there’s never even the slightest appearance of impropriety with regards to his marriage. To achieve such a feat, Pence reportedly won’t have dinner alone with a woman who is not his wife; he also won’t attend any events where alcohol is served unless Karen is by his side.
For the record: I’m really, really close with my wife. I love hanging out with her. I also love having dinner with female friends alone. Okay, being a former English major I otherwise would’ve starved alone in my room…
Seriously, some of my best friendships are based on having dinner – drinks included. Many of those nights felt intimate, sometimes we even talk about intimate topics – and yet, I don’t cheat on my wife. Penceites must be so confused.
I even think that having dinner with women who are not my wife make me a better husband/man/person. Through these 1-on-1 dinners and talks I get to hear stories and perspectives from women who are different than my wife (or mother) and this helps me being less ignorant. Less clueless when it comes to women’s issues in general. When I see how Pence and his ilk talk about women, their healthcare, and sexuality, I’d recommend that they have dinner with women who are not their wife more often. This whole thing is completely absurd once you add the fact that gender isn’t a binary and not all people are heterosexual.
Not coincidentally, the combination of pity and disgust I have for men who can’t see women as anything else than temptation is similar to the combination of pity and disgust I have for the Trump Administration.
“Feel It Still” sounds like Portugal. the Man’s version of a Bruno Mars hit while being subtly political. The interactive video makes it more explicit and links to a number of ~progressive causes. The opposite of political sublety is of course the right-wing extremist conspiracy site InfoWars, and they decided to comment on the song. As Stereogum sums up:
In the case of that InfoWars scene, there’s a link to AdStrike, a site dedicated to boycotts that hopefully will cause advertisers to stop supporting right-wing sites like InfoWars. The InfoWars article includes reference to “an embedded ‘toolkit’ for social justice warriors” and ends with this delicious kicker: “Che Guevara and Karl Marx are proudly smiling up from hell.”
I assume Infowars thinks the references are insults. Anyway, I’m now even more excited about new music from one of my favorite bands. Thanks, InfoWars.