Dead Man Laughing. Comedy, family, class (British) and death intertwine in this essay by Zadie Smith. [more inside]
In this six part video series, the BBC follows "22 year old Felicia during her pregnancy as she navigates a welfare system which critics claim puts unfair demands on poor and minority women."
Why ‘Transcending Race’ Is a Lie [The New York Times] Few American athletes have been as widely beloved as Simpson was. Even today, his popularity seems inconceivable. “O. J.: Made in America,” the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary [ESPN] directed by Ezra Edelman that is airing this week, busies itself with the making of the man at the myth’s center and with the country that helped him become a monster. It’s the best thing ESPN has ever produced. And it answers my question: Simpson’s story is that of a black man who came of age during the civil rights era and spent his entire adult life trying to “transcend race” — to claim that strange accolade bestowed on blacks spanning from Pelé to Prince to Nelson Mandela to Muhammad Ali. Which is to say, it’s the story of a halfback trying, and failing, to outrun his own blackness. [more inside]
Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City: The New York City public-school system is 41 percent Latino, 27 percent black and 16 percent Asian. Three-quarters of all students are low-income. In 2014, the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, released a report showing that New York City public schools are among the most segregated in the country. Black and Latino children here have become increasingly isolated, with 85 percent of black students and 75 percent of Latino students attending “intensely” segregated schools — schools that are less than 10 percent white. [more inside]
We used to think that as living standards improved, less work would deliver more income and thus more leisure time. But now, more and more work hours are what everyone's after. Because in today's economy, the alternative to working more isn't enjoying quality time with friends and family. The alternative is nothing. The American workplace has basically become a Thunderdome where the victors are rewarded with long hours. How insane work hours became a mark of American privilege by Jeff Spross in The Week [via NextDraft]
When many lower-income Americans feel isolated and empty, they yearn for physical social networks. All across US, this happens organically at McDonald’s.
Sex. Race. Class. Inequality. Personal branding. Millenials. Selfies. Affordable luxury. Femvertizing. Unattainable beauty standards. And a glass of free champagne. Put it all together and what do you get? $100 million a year in less than a decade. Buzzfeed's Sapna Maheshwari takes a deep dive into the success of Drybar.
"Every day I experience how language can bring people together and build power. But language can also be divisive, dangerous, and exclusionary... I got to work on a Progressive Style Guide, (pdf) that would help guide fellow campaigners and writers in the progressive movement on using inclusive language."
In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
The Supreme Court today overruled the Superior Court of Georgia. In 1987, Timothy Foster – a low-income, intellectually disabled, black teenager was charged with the murder of a white woman and was tried by an all-white jury after Georgia prosecutors used their peremptory strikes to exclude all black prospective jurors from jury service. He was sentenced to death, and has been appealing this sentence for almost thirty years. [more inside]
The Goblin's Dilemma: class soildarity, selfish families, and the working class heros of Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan and Spider-Man By Bud White and Tim Kreider (Spider-Man discussion begins here)
Criticism leveled at Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of prime minister Justin Trudeau, dismissed as ‘sexist and spiteful’ after she says she needs more staff. [The Guardian] The wife of Canada’s prime minister has sparked a fierce national debate after saying she needs more help to expand her official role and take on more public duties. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau last week told a French-language newspaper that she wanted to do more, but struggled with just one staff member. [more inside]
"Over a million people are buried in the city’s potter’s field on Hart Island. A New York Times investigation uncovers some of their stories and the failings of the system that put them there." (SL NYTimes)
Britain has changed so quickly, the gains of 40 years of social progress undone in half a generation, that most of us are still struggling to compute it, but the evidence is right there in front of us, on our cinema and television screens. It’s not posh-bashing to say this is a problem.Why Working-class Actors Are a Dying Breed, The Observer (8 May 2016).
It’s perhaps no surprise that air rage — instances in which passengers become unruly — appears to be on the rise. The logic is straightforward: When people are strapped to their seats with no escape for hours on end, when they’re hungry and tired and they lack control over their surroundings, that’s when they’re most likely to snap. Except new research suggests that the explanations most commonly offered for passenger outbursts don’t actually explain what’s going on. ... It turns out that what really upsets us in the sky is palpable inequality.
TV's Dwindling Middle Class [SLNYT] Now on TV, no matter your actual job, almost everybody belongs to the same generic, vaguely upper-class class. [more inside]
The question “why does a superhero exist?” is easy to answer nowadays: to fight super-villains, or more recently, other superheroes in brattish fits of pique. But, as mentioned, “superhero” is derived from “Superman”, ditto “super-villain”; neither concept existed when Superman first appeared. The first enemy Superman would fight with abilities more than those of ordinary men would not appear until Action Comics #13; until then, Superman fought miscreants with no more power than afforded humans in the real world. ... This hardly seems fair given his non-“super” opposition, but Shuster and Siegel provided a perspective that more than made up the difference to themselves and their readers: class & oppression.
"The mix of things presumed to transmit and increase female power is without limit yet still depressingly limiting."
How 'Empowerment' Became Something for Women to Buy, by Jia Tolentino for NYT Magazine [more inside]
How 'Empowerment' Became Something for Women to Buy, by Jia Tolentino for NYT Magazine [more inside]
In 2010, U.S. supermarkets and grocery stores threw out 43 billion pounds, or $46.7 billion worth, of food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). [more inside]
The three party system - "There are three major political forces in contemporary politics in developed countries: tribalism, neoliberalism and leftism (defined in more detail below). Until recently, the party system involved competition between different versions of neoliberalism. Since the Global Financial Crisis, neoliberals have remained in power almost everywhere, but can no longer command the electoral support needed to marginalise both tribalists and leftists at the same time. So, we are seeing the emergence of a three-party system, which is inherently unstable because of the Condorcet problem and for other reasons." [more inside]
How do you quantify the effects of things that don't happen to you? "The whole point of living in a culture is that much of the labor of perception and judgment is done for you, spread through media, and absorbed through an imperceptible process that has no single author." (previously; via)
"We accuse someone of pretentiousness to call out false authority and deflate delusions of grandeur. But we’re also using the word as a tool of class policing: a way to tell a person to stop putting on airs and graces." Dan Fox, Why I'm pretentious and proud of it [more inside]
One of the most compelling arguments for literary diversity has to do with the people who are following behind. If a little Mexican-American girl grows up with dreams of being a poet, what happens when she looks at the prize winners each year and doesn’t see anyone who looks like her? Can a young African-American man aspire to being a Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist if he doesn’t know that there is someone like him out there? I would argue the same thing happens for working-class kids, especially those in families more concerned with putting food on the table than getting to the symphony, families who see the arts as the sole pursuit of the rich (as my own working-class immigrant father did).
"For over a decade, architecture students at Rural Studio, Auburn University's design-build program in a tiny town in West Alabama, have worked on a nearly impossible problem. How do you design a home that someone living below the poverty line can afford, but that anyone would want—while also providing a living wage for the local construction team that builds it?" Now Rural Studio has a prototype it's trying to bring to market, and it's hitting its biggest challenge yet: how to fit its small, efficient, inexpensive houses into an infrastructure that has no place for them.
The NYPD is Kicking People Out of Their Homes, Even If They Haven’t Committed a Crime via ProPublica and the New York Daily News.
Ever confused about why it's so hard for Americans (US) to talk about class issues? LJ blogger Siderea has some answers for you, having to do with the distinction between social and economic class. [more inside]
'Silver Fork' or Fashionable Novels are the largely forgotten English popular novels of the 1820s and 30s which depicted aristocratic life and scandals as a how-to guide for rising middle-class readers while also exploring growing political and class anxieties in the post-Regency. Advice on how to romance, eat, party and raise children like a member of the upper class from Silver Fork novels via Bizarre Victoria (previously).
How the “sharing economy” has turned San Francisco into a dystopia for the working class. Oh, Canada! I’m writing you from Berkeley, California to warn you about this thing called “the sharing economy.” Since no one is really sharing anything, many of us prefer the term “the exploitation economy,” but due to its prevalence many in the Bay Area simply think of it as “the economy.” Whatever you want to call it, the basic idea is that customers can outsource all the work or chores they don’t want to do to somebody else in their area. [more inside]
“Black Folk Don’t...” is an open conversation that invites everyone to take a second look at the grey areas between us all, no matter the race, and most importantly to do it with a sense of humor. This documentary web series is a special presentation of BlackPublicMedia.org, directed and produced by Angela Tucker, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Did you know that black folk don't… [more inside]
Abigail Fisher, the white student who is challenging the use of race in admissions at the university which rejected her application in 2008, was back at the Supreme Court again, as she was for the first round of arguments in her case in October 2012. [more inside]
"That night, Soloway sat in the bathtub, while her husband, Bruce Gilbert, a music supervisor for film and television, brushed his teeth. She remembers telling him, “ ‘I don’t want to use the money to pay off our debt. I want to be a director, and I want to make a film with it and get into Sundance. I want to double down on me.’ And Bruce was, like, ‘O.K.’ ” Then, just as Soloway was making the leap to directing her own material, her father called one afternoon and came out as transgender." (SL New Yorker)
For the first time in 35 years, an Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty fatality, in this case, that of 17 year old Laquan McDonald. Last night, the city of Chicago released the dash-cam footage that had been kept out of the public eye for more than a year, showing Mr. McDonald being shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer. A second video, which was taken by a security camera at a nearby Burger King, was allegedly deleted by the police. [more inside]
In 1993 the BBC produced a television series known as "From A to B: Tales of Modern Motoring." One episode in particular stands out for shining a rare light on the peculiar practice of badge engineering cars to reflect subtle gradations in status. The result is somewhere between the Maysles' Salseman and Easton Ellis' American Psycho.
"Young women could now do more than read about feminist issues and discuss them in class; they could find communities of women on Twitter or Tumblr whose experiences they could relate to—or who could open up new vistas for them on what other women’s lives are like. They could participate in the creation of a new feminism—one that would be a far cry from Friedan’s. By 2011, the writer Flavia Dzodan was famously declaring on her blog: “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” Her words became a rallying cry."
Rising deaths among white middle-aged Americans could exceed AIDS toll in US A sharp rise in death rates among white middle-aged Americans has claimed nearly as many lives in the past 15 years as the spread of Aids in the US, researchers have said. The alarming trend, overlooked until now, has hit less-educated 45- to 54-year-olds the hardest, with no other groups in the US as affected and no similar declines seen in other rich countries. [more inside]
After teasing for hours on the official BBC Doctor Who twitter feed about #bigdoctorwhonews leading to a fever pitch of speculation re potential mega famous guests stars, new companion(s) or the recovery of lost episodes... it was finally announced that there will be a new spin-off YA series Class written by Patrick Ness centered around Coal Hill School in London
"Saada: In some ways, “inconspicuous chic” is about a perceived entitlement to money, not money itself. People who flaunt their wealth by wearing tons of brands and being flashy are not considered wealthy; more often they’re seen as nouveau riche vis-a-vis old-monied. ...Maybe if they were bulldozing low income housing to build a huge Barney's I would be concerned, but to be upset about how rich ladies shop is almost pointless." ---- Clothes & Class - An Adult Magazine roundtable discussion of the minutiae of high fashion, low budgets, the history of class signaling and inconspicuous chic. With Saada Ahmed, Katherine Bernard, Durga Chew-Bose, Fiona Duncan, Hari Nef, Steve Oklyn and Arabelle Scicardi. (NSFW main photos and related ads. Extreme fashion nerdery)
Walidah Imarisha is a professor at Portland State University, where she teaches a class on race and Disney. This is her interview with Bitch Media on the racial politics of Disney animals.
"Here are some essential readings from several astute activists, journalists and writers that have inspired, angered and challenged readers everywhere this past year. While this is in no way an exhaustive list, the following offers insider and outsider views of Ferguson, pushing all of us to consider the radical spirit and collective beauty illuminated in mass mobilized protests. "
A new London accent strikingly different from Cockney has emerged in the last few years. Linguists call it "Multicultural London English" (or MLE) and although it has obvious roots in the London black community it's now displacing Cockney to become a universal accent for working class London youth, regardless of race. Change is spreading so fast that London teens often have radically different accents from their own parents. [more inside]
Facebook's bias training: "There are different forms of unconscious bias that can prevent us from cultivating an inclusive and innovative workplace. In these videos, we discuss four common types of biases: Performance Bias, Performance Attribution Bias, Competence/Likeability Trade-off Bias, and Maternal Bias."
In May, the New York City Council passed the "School Diversity Accountability Act", which requires the city to "provide detailed demographic data & steps it is taking to advance diversity in NYC schools" and Resolution 453, which calls on the NYC Department of Education to establish diversity as a priority in admissions, zoning, and other decision-making processes. Education advocates are re-drawing district maps, and creating experiments which "range from developing specific diversity quotas for individual schools to redrawing school district lines to better reflect racial and economic diversity." [more inside]
Advantaged people with high levels of self-control and resilience age slower. Disadvantaged people with high levels of self-control and resilience age faster.
Letter to My Son, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, July 4, 2015: "I came to understand that my country was a galaxy, and this galaxy stretched from the pandemonium of West Baltimore to the happy hunting grounds of Mr. Belvedere. I obsessed over the distance between that other sector of space and my own. I knew that my portion of the American galaxy, where bodies were enslaved by a tenacious gravity, was black and that the other, liberated portion was not... And I felt in this a cosmic injustice, a profound cruelty, which infused an abiding, irrepressible desire to unshackle my body and achieve the velocity of escape."
Something about this country – the divisions, the class system, the general sense of distrust and dissatisfaction – seems to breed youth subcultures like no other place on Earth. The strange, stylish clans that this island incubates have been exported across the world, influencing everything from high street fashion to high art. From teddy boys to 2 Tone rudeboys, soulboys to Slipknot fans, grunge bands to grime crews, mods to mod revivalists, the history of these groups shows us a version of modern Britain that goes way beyond Diana and Blair.[more inside]