Things I’m Verbing: Direct action, dirty hands and Asian-Americanness

Throughout my life, I have frequently had to yell at New Yorkers to stop writing, talking and behaving like 1) New York is the only real place on earth and 2) everyone knows and 3) cares about every little New York thing that’s happening in New York at any given second. But I have to indulge in this amazing story that will fill your heart with joy if you are in the know: We can now get Big Gay Ice Cream in grocery stores and indulge in the comforts of our own homes.

And hey, this isn’t entirely New York-centric — the pints are also coming to Philadelphia!

Okay, on to the real stuff.

  • A trio of incredible reporting and writing on Asian-American experiences.
    • First, 99 Percent Invisible did an episode about Manzanar, the World War II internment camp where American citizens of Japanese descent were rounded up and imprisoned in the name of national security. Honestly, I wept listening to this. The text and photographs that accompany the podcast are worth seeing on their own, but there’s always something so haunting about actually hearing oral histories.
    • For Catapult, Vanessa Hua reflects on her feelings of being “out-Asianed” at a San Francisco spa.
    • At the Nib, Malaysian-American cartoonist Shing Yin Khor asks, “What Would Yellow Ranger Do?” There is a straight line between Manzanar and the “innocent” racism she describes in this comic.
  • Meanwhile, the Atlantic‘s Adrienne LaFrance tells us how not to write about Hawaii.
  • From the Chicago Reader, KT Hawbaker-Krohn writes about protest as self-care, and why direct action feels better than consumerism. Pair her exploration of toxic masculinity and rape culture at the University of Iowa with Jess Zimmerman’s “Why Is Male Anger So Threatening?” for Dame.
  • I’m reconnecting with my love of stories about sustainability, which has, inevitably, brought me to the great Civil Eats. This article examines Letters to a Young Farmer, and what farming (speaking of direct action) means both timelessly and in the present.
  • Writing for American Anthropologist, Jonah Rubin deconstructs a viral image about media bias and news literacy, and what extreme political views actually mean about those who hold them. Follow up with famed/respected media critic David Carr’s syllabus for his “Press Play” master class on understanding the news.

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Syncretism, solidarity and straight lines

Lots of antisemitism around social media right now, with many people outraged that “no one is talking about this” and “why isn’t this screaming from every headline?” It’s… exhausting to watch. I feel immensely conflicted about it, as someone who has cared and shouted about antisemitism for a long time. My first reaction is Where have you all been? It took bomb threats and grave desecration to bring you in on this? I feel overexposed, especially when I know how hypocritical and toxic conversations about antisemitism can be.

I am trying to let down my guard and not feel suspicious that this is simply an under-mined source of outrage and clicks. At the same time, I’m moved and relieved by how quickly other communities have come to our aid. You can’t understate the trauma of seeing tombstones knocked over — there is a straight line from that act to the Holocaust. It is really, really not weird that Jews and Muslims would get along and support each other, but it is gratifying to see that we truly have each others’ backs, in action and in word.

Folks who have been in this position, do you have any advice for dealing with these feelings? I’d really appreciate any links in the comments or on Twitter.

  • If you’re looking for some Jews not taking this shit lying down, I urge you to read the absolutely delightful and excellently titled “So a Nazi Walks Into an Iron Bar,” about Meyer Lansky, Jewish gangsters and 1930s-style direct action.
  • There’s always plenty to say about the Oscars, but Imran Siddiquee, writing for BuzzFeed, has a point we shouldn’t lose sight of: “What Will It Take for Dev Patel to Be a Leading Man?
  • Only ’80s and ’90s kids will understand this, &c &c &c: “The Melancholy of Don Bluth,” a look at what set films like All Dogs Go to Heaven, An American Tail and The Secret of NIMH apart from all the rest.
  • From Racked, do not miss Laura Turner’s “What Do We Do With the Clothing of Grief?” The dress I wore to my mom’s funeral still hangs in my closet. I haven’t worn it again, but I don’t know if I can give it up.
  • For just some lovely reflection on religion and identity, from Ravishly, take a look at “Finding My Rebel Catholicism in Mexico City” by Michelle Threadgould.

I have another personal essay up at Screwball Heroine, about the weird composite imaginary man I want to find and fall in love with: “To all my future husbands.”

Stay brave, friends.

Things I’m Verbing: Baseball in Havana, coming home to Accra and mariachi in Santa Fe

I am mindful of the date, so let me assure you that all of these stories are real and worth your time. In fact, most of them are pretty unfunny. Sometimes that’s just what you find. However, if you know right off the bat that that’s not for you today, let me recommend stories on the Ghanaian Sex and the City, the wonderful Summer Pierre on becoming a writer, this really great competitive swing dancing video (all improvised!) — and the last link. The last link will make you feel better about the world.

  • So, Batman v Superman finally came out, and… wow. Even 29% on Rotten Tomatoes seems generous, especially if you read Gizmodo‘s absolutely brutal FAQ about the film. I haven’t seen it (nor do I plan to; ugh, Man of Steel was utterly joyless and overlong, and I’m not interested in more), but “Superman and the Damage Done” over at Birth. Movies. Death. makes me sad about how far these characters have come from their origins. Read the comments on that one too — good discussions in there, especially concerning the (by all accounts excellent) Supergirl TV show and Marvel.
  • In light of the ongoing horror that is Donald Trump’s opinions on women, Jezebel published “Republican Women: A Reminder That Your Party Is Not for You,” which looks at what happens when you pigeonhole feminism as a liberal-only concern.
  • The editor-in-chief of Belt, Martha Bayne, interviewed sociologist and MacArthur Genius Matthew Desmond about his new book, Evicted, which looks at race, gender and the housing crisis by focusing on how these play out in Milwaukee. As you might guess, it’s not pretty — and it’s key to understanding poverty in this country.
  • I’m always happy for the chance to promote the good work of my peers and friends. Ellie Kaufman, whom I know from Mic, wrote a wonderful personal essay about being Cuban, being Cuban-American and watching baseball during President Obama’s recent historic visit. It’s the perfect antidote to all the cliches about reporting on Cuba, which On the Media skewered well this week.
  • Finally, that nice link I promised you: Writing for Remezcla, Adele Oliveira profiles Santa Fe’s only all-female mariachi band. It’s a great look both at what these women provide the community (“Musicians are just therapists that you can party with”) and how these women, all of whom are young, came to mariachi in the first place.

Things I’m Verbing: Comedy, Cracker Barrel and gift culture

I’ll be honest: I went quiet for two weeks because I was grappling with a news story that was really tearing me up, and because it hit so hard, I was trying to figure out how to talk about it publicly. I wrote up an impassioned-but-reasoned (I hoped) post that languished in my drafts, and I’ve been collecting links from all angles until my tabs have utterly overwhelmed me. Ultimately, though, I realized there are only a few things I would want people to read about the anti-pinkwashing protests at Creating Change 2016:

I have a lot of friends and colleagues I admire greatly who speak out about identity and intersectionality all the time. I hope to be brave enough to write like they do, and I hope we’re all brave enough to listen to each other.

Okay. On to the other stuff.

  • Claire Fallon at the Huffington Post wrote “Virginia Woolf’s Guide to Grieving,” a personal essay I could relate to only too well.
  • At the New York Times Magazine, Jia Tolentino’s look at Cracker Barrels and belonging cracked open some things about the chain I’d never thought about, despite never being the target demographic for the restaurants either.
  • In just some good news, the Chicago Reader highlights a Kickstarter effort to digitize my hero Studs Terkel’s entire archive and put it online for the people.
  • After this Q&A with Transformative Works, I’m really looking forward to setting aside the time to read Olivia Riley’s thesis on fandom and gift culture. If you don’t know about the academic study of fandom (they’re called acafans!), you’ll find that the things media often mocks are at heart really punk rock.
  • If you really want to get lost in some amazing collaborative work, head over to Vulture‘s “The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy.” I just want to lose days in this, beginning to end.