Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.
Seattle Review of Books co-founder Martin McClellan heard Jennie Shortridge read “Hammerhead” at Lit Crawl in October — yet more evidence of how necessary the event is for getting ears and eyes on incredible new work. Shortridge writes the story of multiple assaults her mother endured, at a time when women had little if any hope of help if they told what had happened. Like Martin, I fell in love with this essay — with its anger, with its honesty, with how it’s a daughter’s chance to speak up for a mother who couldn’t.
When we were kids, our mother spoke of him with reverence, and treasured that horse and bowl until her early death in 1990 at the age of 57. The horse lives on in my sister's house, the bowl in mine. Why, I wonder now, imagining throwing it in a dumpster, maybe giving it a few good hard bangs first. But she loved these things. She made us love them, too, these pinpoints of light from her girlhood. Do we honor her or him by keeping them? If we throw them away, what do we trash, and whom?
If you’ve ever found a strip of someone else’s photobooth snapshots, you know how uncannily intimate they can be. There’s no background, no context, just a stranger’s face and what it tells you, intentionally or not. The message isn’t for you — but it’s so very, very close.
Every month for a year, H. Nicole Martin made a pilgrimage to Seattle’s photobooths so they could look back at their face and see what it said. Over the same year, Martin came out publicly as nonbinary and queer, fell apart, fell in love. This piece captures that experience, mixing images and precise, personal prose to ask what’s revealed, what’s betrayed, and what we learn about ourselves by telling our own stories.
I don't know any of this that first day in December, as I buy a pastry stuffed with taro and walk around the market slick with gray sky. I only know the three seconds between each click of the camera, the faces I make, the ways I hope the image communicates my identity to the world: beautiful, enticing, what I believe to be a woman, the woman I have believed to be myself. In the third frame, I am smirking and think of it as a tiny omen; what for, I am not sure. I begin the project because I have a sense it will be important, though I cannot fathom why.
Is nothing sacred? Can we not hug trees, at least, without tripping over Richard Spencer? Apparently not. For some people, “make America great again” is starting to map to an environmental nationalism that protects public lands for the enjoyment and exploitation of a privileged few (yeah, it’s the same few, and the same privilege). Matthew Phelan has the story, with a lot less snark and many more facts.
(Seriously, though, this is good to know about and understand — some coalitions aren’t worth building. Cuddle up to trees, but not to Nazis, please.)
This romantic-reactionary tendency in environmentalism has fertile ground in US Green Party coalitions, if only because many pragmatic environmentalists have self-selected out of these marginalized third-party engagements. Concerted efforts by anti-Semitic authors David Pidcock, Michele Renouf, and Matthias Chang to insinuate their ideas into the Green Party's defense of Palestinians, and its critique of international finance, plagued the campaign of Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney in 2008, and this example is not unique. In general, what has been left is an activist community that, while far from being a full-fledged "green–brown" alliance, is dangerously susceptible to eco-nationalist positions and premeditated infiltration by like-minds from the far right.
Aleksandar Hemon explains why refusing to provide fascism with a public platform is not an issue of free speech, but of survival.
. . . only those safe from fascism and its practices are likely to think that there might be a benefit in exchanging ideas with fascists. What for such a privileged group is a matter of a potentially productive difference in opinion is, for many of us, a matter of basic survival. The essential quality of fascism (and its attendant racism) is that it kills people and destroys their lives — and it does so because it openly aims so.
This is a great investigative piece by Debbie Weingarten on systemic, systematic, and devastating discrimination against black sugarcane farmers in the United States. It’s the sort of claim that people who benefit from the entrenched system find easy to dismiss — so careful, fact-based reporting is needed. Weingarten’s piece is compelling, and enraging.
US census of agriculture statistics show a 44.7% decrease in black farm operators in Iberia parish — where the Provosts live — between 2007 and 2012, compared with a 12.3% decrease in white farm operators. In neighboring Vermillion parish, where June farmed the majority of his sugarcane, black farm operators decreased by 17% between 2002 and 2012, while white farmers increased by 6%. Nationally, less than 2% of farmers are black.
June says there were approximately 60 black sugarcane farmers in the area in 1983. He keeps their names neatly printed, line after line, in a notebook.
By 2000, that number had dwindled to 17. Today, June and Angie count only four.