#5SmartReads - January 30, 2023
Dr. Kate Slater on the big lie of Jan 6th, fighting like a girl, and gerrymandering
Dr. Kate Slater is a professor and a national director at an educational community-based-organization. Her research focuses on critical race theory, whiteness and white supremacy within American institutions. She likes an aggressively loaded nacho platter, her very cute children, Cafe Bustelo in the morning, romance novels, and cursing.
On the two-year anniversary of the January 6th Insurrection, Anthony Conwright reminds us of the true motivations of the insurrectionists and asks us to confront the white supremacy that undergirds these historical movements. Conwright says:
"... it is insufficient to claim that the Big Lie is merely that the 2020 presidential election was stolen or that Trump’s election-fraud conspiracy was the root cause of the riots. As we confront the insurrection on its two-year anniversary, it’s important to remind ourselves of what motivated the rioters that day: the idea that the United States is for white people, whose power must be protected at all costs."
Shaw does a fascinating deep dive into Title IX and athletics and chronicles the case of the Oregon State University's 1979's softball team, which successfully lobbied to keep the softball program at the school even after they dealt with significant sexism and discrimination.
This reads like the real-life version of "A League of Their Own" - the descriptions of the absolute nonsense that the players went through just to get transportation to games is ludicrous.
Lots of people think of academic institutions as 'liberal' spaces, as if the 'liberal' descriptor erases the significant racism and xenophobia that are ever-present at our colleges and universities.
In this article, Janice Gassam Asare, Ph.D., chronicles how many institutions that made sweeping promises for social justice in the wake of the 2020 'Racial Reckoning' have backtracked on these promises.
I left my position at an elite institution in 2021 due in part to the unwillingness of senior university administrators to take a stand and combat white supremacy within its walls, so this article only hit home how little that has changed.
The Pitfalls and the Potential of New Minimalism (The New Yorker)
I'll admit it. I zone out to minimalism videos on YouTube. I could be having the most stressful day in the world, but when I crawl into bed with a pair of fuzzy socks to watch some Midwesterner declutter her kitchen drawers, it's like a tranq dart to the neck. This 2020 article by the luminous Jia Tolentino dives deep into the aesthetic and spiritual appeal of minimalism and dissects it through a historical and socioeconomic lens. Tolentino writes:
"The worst versions of life-style minimalism frame simplicity not as a worthy end in itself but as an instrument—a tool of self-improvement, or of high-end consumption, or of self-improvement through high-end consumption. It is a vision shaped by the logic of the market: the self is perpetually being improved; its environment is ready for public display and admiration; it methodically sheds all inefficiencies and flaws."
And oh man, does this make me rethink my minimalism-as-a-balm-for-my-soul highway.
Gerrymandering is a deeply murky process that nonetheless significantly impacts every single election, and it is why our country is increasingly controlled by the minority political party. Politicians used gerrymandering to manipulate electoral district boundaries in order to give one political party an advantage over another. It can look like diluting the voting power of a party’s supporters across many districts or concentrating the opposing party’s voting power in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts.
In a recent South Carolina case, the judge found that the 1st Congressional District was guilty of racial gerrymandering, which disenfranchises Black voters. I hope we see many more of these cases in the years to come, and y'all should read up on this process.