#5SmartReads - July 8, 2020

On the colonialism hangover, Vanessa Guillen, and the dark side of romance

FBI Says Soldier Vanessa Guillen Was Killed (NPR)

trigger warning - this article contains sexual assault and graphic violence

This is one of the most horrifying stories I’ve read. Like Breonna Taylor, Vanessa Guillen DESERVED BETTER from our law enforcement agencies, our justice department, and our nation.

And I can’t help but think how many other women have suffered the same, whose names we will never know.

Please consider signing this petition to hold the US Army accountable for the senseless, horrific death of this brave soldier.

Change is frustratingly slow, but an overhaul to the military justice system has support and could happen in the next few years.


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Acknowledge the "Uncomfortable" History of the Commonwealth (Town & Country)

The first history class I took at UW was about the impact of colonialism in Africa and Asia. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I would sit in a lecture hall and learn about the horrors, the death, and the pillaging of African and Asian cultures and people.

It was the first time I learned a more truthful version of history, versus the whitewashed one taught to me for 13 years.

I see the effects of this everywhere. I’m hearing it at the forefront of so many conversations in the United States, at the micro and macro level. I’m finally seeing the bloody truth of the East India Company on the screen, thanks to The Warrior Queen Of Jhansi and PBS’ Beecham House.

And for the past two years, I’ve been witnessing it through Meghan Markle’s role in the British royal family.

I could go on and on about what Meghan and the Royal Family, race in the UK, and colonialism - but I will spare you.

The reckoning the world is facing now - both the White people who were enslavers and colonizers and globalists (which, in a way, was economic colonialism) and the people of color who were physically, economically, and culturally enslaved - is overdue. It’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to be emotional. And it’s going to take time.

But in the words of the Duchess of Sussex:

“It’s only in pushing through that discomfort that we get to the other side of this and find the place where a high tide raises all ships. Equality does not put anyone on the back foot, it puts us all on the same footing—which is a fundamental human right, and that's what we're talking about here”

Highly recommend reading The Post-Colonial Hangover (Foreign Policy) for some extra color on this topic.


Michaela the Destroyer (Vulture)

trigger warning - this article contains sexual assault

Michaela Coel will make you laugh, cry, think, and marvel all at the same time. She is an artist, in the purest and highest sense of the word. (Go watch the first 5 minutes of Been So Long and Black Earth Rising on Netflix - you’ll be hooked).

Even more rare than her talent is her value for her art. She’s a deft businesswoman, a skilled negotiator, and someone who I would like to write a business-focused book, because I could use some Michaela energy.

I’m really glad Vulture published this satisfyingly detailed feature on Michaela, which will have you going ‘how the hell did I not know about her?’


Bad romance (Vox)

I’ve become an unabashed romance fan BECAUSE of Black romance authors.

Little did I know that rampant racism and hostility towards Black and authors of color was the norm within Romance Writers of America.

You couldn’t write the drama of RWA - which involved the mass resignation of the executive team and board earlier this year. It’s not entertaining or salacious. It’s tragic and heartbreaking and traumatic that some of the most talented writers I’ve read over the past few years were treated so awfully, and their work disrespected or disregarded.

It’s hard enough to be a woman, creating art for women that constantly gets undermined or written off by male critics. It’s even harder to be a Black woman, facing the same challenges and even more from White women.

Carve out the time to read this piece, which is excellent. I’ll leave you with the quote that most struck me from this piece.

Huguley draws a parallel between the way RWA treated black authors and the way the rest of publishing treats romance itself. “You would think there would be some understanding towards how black authors feel, given the way we talk about romance in the larger world,” says Huguley. “But that doesn’t exist.”


Trump administration submits formal notice of withdrawal from WHO (STAT)

This is a case of ‘super alarming headline, not as alarming once you read the article.’

Yes, Trump has lambasted the World Health Organization basically since he took office, and even more so during the COVID pandemic.

Yes, his Secretary Of State signed off on the notice of withdrawal.

But nothing happens overnight. This administration claimed a January 6, 2021 date of official withdrawal, Congress’ joint resolution stipulates two key criteria for withdrawal:

  1. that outstanding dues to the WHO prior to withdrawal.

  2. that member country to give the WHO one year’s notice of its intention to withdraw

As the statement was just issued, the soonest the United States could withdraw would be July 7, 2021. Additionally, the United States hasn’t fulfilled its 2020 commitment to the WHO, thus not meeting either requirement for withdrawal.

And THEN the WHO will authorize the withdrawal. Their own bylaws don’t have a process for withdrawal, so this is performative.

The dismantling of public health and pandemic preparedness programs by this administration continues to alarm me, but this statement feels like a distraction. When this President issues such decisions, it’s an effort to gain press and distract us from something else. In this case, might it be to draw attention away from this book?


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