#5SmartReads - July 7, 2020

On the Dakota Pipeline, one of my favorite novels this year, and how to be an ally.

The one thing you should read

Federal judge orders Dakota Access Pipeline shut down (Bismarck Tribune)

If you want to get the whole history of the DAPL, their Wikipedia page is incredibly helpful.

But here’s the TL;DR, especially as it relates to Judge Boasberg.

In September 2016, when the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to temporarily stop construction, he denied their request for an injunction. The tribe’s appeal was denied, but federal agencies did request that construction around Lake Oahe be paused and that further environmental evaluation would be authorized.

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) rejected this request, and construction continued. Despite Obama and the USACE launching a full environmental assessment, Energy Transfer Partners and North Dakota’s governor and senators lambasted the decision.

Aaah, politics.

On January 18, 2017, Judge Boasberg denied ETP’s request to delay the formal Environmental Impact Statement process, which would focus on the impact of the pipeline’s crossing of Lake Oahe.

ETP eventually got what they wanted. President Trump signed a presidential memorandum on January 24 that would expedite the environmental review (turning the robust EIS into a more informal Environmental Assessment). Despite more lawsuits from the tribes, the easement under Lake Oahe was granted on February 7th, and the pipeline was completed in April.

In March, Judge Boasberg ordered the USACE to conduct the environmental review that was originally issued in January, but allowed construction to proceed.

Did the environmental assessment take place? Not in accordance to the National Environmental Policy Act, per Judge Boasberg.

In March 2020, the court identified shortcomings in the USACE’s review as it pertained to the risk of an oil spill in Lake Oahe. He ordered both sides to submit new briefs to decide if the pipeline should shut down while this investigation took place.

And yesterday, he ruled to shut down the pipeline and empty it of oil by August 5th, until the full EIS is completed.

The pipeline isn’t going anywhere - and its fate will be determined by who wins in November. Keep watching this space, because this story is an important one.

Additional reading:

So much of this story reminded me of the beginning of The Rebel King, by Kennedy Ryan.


Debut Romance ‘One to Watch’ Tackles Reality TV, Fame, and Fatphobia (Goodreads)

It’s hard to believe that One To Watch is Kate Stayman-London’s debut book, because it is absolutely perfect (review here). Kate’s interview is deeply satisfying and honest and it actually makes me want to give The Bachelor another go. Highly recommend picking up the book today and carving out time to read it, because you won’t be able to put it down.

PS - Kate is a joy to follow on Twitter.


How California went from a coronavirus success story to a worrying new hot spot (Vox)

“There’s a playbook for what to do, but not a playbook for how to undo it. So I think we’re kind of all feeling our ways.”

Sheltering-in-place works. Masks work. Maintaining physical distance works.

Reopening plans must keep these three things at front and center. Non-healthcare essential workers need proper masks and shields too, as do nursing homes and prisons. We need a better plan for reopening restaurants and funds to help them adapt and change their business model. We need to reimagine housing, especially for essential workers.

We need everyone on board to wear masks and stay at home when they can.

How our nation has responded to COVID keeps me up at night and frantically Googling and mentally spiraling during the day. I’m terrified at how callously some people are behaving and disregarding the very things that work.

I’ll leave you with this key quote from the article

“One of the things I’ve learned in any outbreak is that if it seems you overreacted, you’ve done a good job,” Kuppalli said. What looks like overreaction, she added, means that “we prevented things from becoming a catastrophe. We don’t want to wait until things are a catastrophe and then react, because that’s too late.”


As A Black Woman I Know Too Much About White Hair (Elle)

PSA: Cornrows and box braids were not invented at a Sandals resort or wherever you spent your family vacation. Moments like these remove the history of Black hair and hairstyles and place it under the white lens. If you are white and the first time you saw cornrows in person was on vacation, you now associate hair braiding as a part of your tourism experience, and a souvenir you can bring back with a sunburn. These moments which may have harmless intent aid in the erasure of the history and culture behind these hairstyles created by Black people.

I get frustrated by my hair. But the time and energy I have spent about worrying about my hair - the care of it and other people’s perception of it - pales in comparison to Black women.

Hell, they require a law to fight prejudice against their hair.

This essay is a really important read, and another jumping off point to show us non-Black women how much we have to learn.


Want to speak out like Ben & Jerry’s? Here’s how to earn it (Fast Company)

Allyship isn’t a title you earn, but work to earn every single day.

And not just for individuals. For companies, too.

This article offers a 6-step allyship blueprint. Granted, each of these steps take serious work, day in and day out.

Rome wasn’t built in day.


I hope you enjoyed the first of the daily #5SmartReads installments. If you do, I hope you join the conversation below and consider investing in the paid offering.