I read a lot of news articles. In theory, I’d rather spend my time reading books, but in practice I tend to spend half of my reading time on articles. So now and again, I’ll just share a bundle of interesting things I’ve read (or listened to) recently in the news. For better or worse, you’ll notice that what interests me in a given week often tends to come in topical clusters – sometimes I’ll include quite diverse perspectives on a given issue. Anyway, here’s the first batch, mostly articles from the past week:
1.) “The Great Climate Migration” – by Abrahm Lustgarten, New York Times, July 23, 2020
For most of human history, people have lived within a surprisingly narrow range of temperatures, in the places where the climate supported abundant food production. But as the planet warms, that band is suddenly shifting north. According to a pathbreaking recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the planet could see a greater temperature increase in the next 50 years than it did in the last 6,000 years combined. By 2070, the kind of extremely hot zones, like in the Sahara, that now cover less than 1 percent of the earth’s land surface could cover nearly a fifth of the land, potentially placing one of every three people alive outside the climate niche where humans have thrived for thousands of years. Many will dig in, suffering through heat, hunger and political chaos, but others will be forced to move on…
People are already beginning to flee. In Southeast Asia, where increasingly unpredictable monsoon rainfall and drought have made farming more difficult, the World Bank points to more than eight million people who have moved toward the Middle East, Europe and North America. In the African Sahel, millions of rural people have been streaming toward the coasts and the cities amid drought and widespread crop failures. Should the flight away from hot climates reach the scale that current research suggests is likely, it will amount to a vast remapping of the world’s populations.
2.) “27 U.S. mayors: Want to address systemic racism? Start with housing.” – by 27 U.S. Mayors, Washington Post, July 24, 2020
Even before the covid-19 pandemic, housing has always been the primary contributor to this country’s massive racial wealth gap. The creation of the Federal Housing Administration in 1934 led to discriminatory redlining policies that secured loans for white-only, often suburban subdivisions that mandated the exclusion of African Americans. It also furthered segregation efforts by refusing to insure mortgages in and near African American neighborhoods. These policies created the segregated communities we still live in today and persist through federal disinvestment in affordable housing programs.
3.) “An ‘eviction apocalypse’ is coming, experts warn. Black women will bear the brunt.” – by Abigail Higgins, The Lily, July 20, 2020
Across the country, people are being evicted even as a federal ban on evictions during the pandemic is still in place. It’s also one likely to multiply dramatically as the pandemic’s economic fallout triggers what many experts fear will be an “eviction apocalypse” that could see 23 million families evicted by the end of September. That’s 1 in 5 renting households.
4.) “Breaking Down the Legacy of Race in Traditional Music in America” – story by Sophia Alvarez Boyd, Weekend Edition, July 25, 2020
The Confederate flag and other symbols and monuments from this country’s racist past have been disappearing from public spaces both by force and legislation. But what about the stereotypes and racist imagery in America’s musical legacy? The traditional music community is reckoning with those songs, many of which are kept alive today through festivals and concerts.
5.) “Scathing 1928 Takedown [by W.E.B. Du Bois] Shows Why Robert E. Lee Deserves Zero Statues” – by Ed Mazza, Huffington Post, July 22, 2020
‘Either he knew what slavery meant when he helped maim and murder thousands in its defense, or he did not. If he did not he was a fool. If he did, Robert Lee was a traitor and a rebel–not indeed to his country, but to humanity and humanity’s God.’
Check out the original Du Bois letter here: http://inthesetimes.com/article/20447/Robert-E-Lee-WEB-DuBois-Racist-Murderer-Confederacy-Monuments
6.) “Protests for Racial Justice Bring Light to Anti-Blackness Within Communities of Color” – story by Leila Fadel, Weekend Edition, July 25, 2020.
My next story is about what happened to one prominent family in Minneapolis when a series of old, bigoted social media posts came to light. It happened just three days after Floyd’s killing. Posts from years ago – anti-Black, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ. They were written by the daughter of Majdi Wadi, a well-known local Palestinian American Muslim businessman. He’s the CEO of the family-run grocery store, restaurant, bakery and a hummus factory…
His daughter Lianne Wadi was 15 when she wrote those posts. Public reaction was swift. Wadi’s business was evicted from one location. He had to close two others. He laid off dozens of employees, mostly people of color, and closed the factory…
‘Because you did something wrong in the past does not mean you cannot advocate against it now. It doesn’t make you hypocrites. You just grew.’
7.) “The False Promise of Anti-racism Books” – by Saida Grundy, The Atlantic, July 21, 2020
Texts that seek to raise the collective American consciousness are rendered futile without concrete systemic changes…
Overemphasis on awareness can also lead to a preoccupation with the racist symbolism of certain sports mascots, band names, brand logos, and public spaces, while obscuring the deeper forms of harm behind these iconographies.
8.) “Master Cleanse: Why social justice feels like self-help to privileged women” – by Kat Rosenfield, Tablet, June 28, 2020
Reading DiAngelo’s book, however, it becomes clear that not knowing is part of the deal. White Fragility explains not only that white progressives are the most dangerous racists of all, but that they always will be, and only through constant and unmitigated navel-gazing can they hope to do less damage. This anti-racist regimen isn’t a solution; it’s an intellectual diet that you’ll be paying for over the rest of your life…
Meanwhile, as antiracist reading lists proliferate and book sales surge, the primary benefit is not to the marginalized communities who suffer most from oppression, but to the finances of the privileged class of professional diversity educators whose guidance is required, forever, to help you do the work. This may partly explain the dearth of solutions in books like White Fragility; after all, an anti-racist training program that actually made people not racist would ultimately render the author, and her entire industry, irrelevant.
9.) “The Harper’s ‘Letter,’ cancel culture and the summer that drove a lot of smart people mad” – by Sarah Ellison and Elahe Izadi, Washington Post, July 23, 2020
For some, “cancel culture” is the specter of online mobs advocating for someone to get fired over anything from an old tweet to an innocuous statement that doesn’t conform to some emerging progressive ethos. Others argue there’s no such thing — that the phrase itself is an attempt to dismiss the young or minority or LGBTQ groups using social media to hold the powerful accountable.
Check it out here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-harpers-letter-cancel-culture-and-the-summer-that-drove-a-lot-of-smart-people-mad/2020/07/23/9df5d6e4-c84c-11ea-b037-f9711f89ee46_story.html
10.) “Should We Cancel Aristotle?” – by Agnes Callard, New York Times, July 21, 2020
It is not only that the benefits of reading Aristotle counteract the costs, but that there are no costs. In fact we have no reason at all to cancel Aristotle. Aristotle is simply not our enemy.
Check it out here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/21/opinion/should-we-cancel-aristotle.html
11.) “Start Looking, and You’ll See Roads All Over the Bible” – by Emily M.D. Scott, New York Times, July 19, 2020
Jesus gathered people (especially around tables), but he also scattered them…
Start looking, and you’ll see roads all over the Bible. These solitary travelers journeyed in situations of great uncertainty, much like our own. Their destinations may have been clear, but their futures were less so. Somewhere along the way, however, they always encountered something unexpected: the astonishing presence of the sacred.
12.) “Traveling In An RV Is Way More Expensive Than You Probably Think” – by Casey Bond, Huffington Post, July 21, 2020
I knew I’d have to invest some money into getting my RV ready for a long road trip, but I didn’t realize how much I’d actually end up spending.