Your week in review in haiku:
A. Grande songbird
wraps her tiny wings around
a sad, weary world
The madcap tweets of
a reality winner:
Lies. Plain and simple.
“Don’t leave me alone
with scary boss man!” Lordy,
big guy, we've been there.
In the pre-dawn hush,
a Man whispers his truth: “I
love the Diamondbacks.”
Oh snap! May Day comes,
May Day goes. Out with a bang
and a Buckethead.
I'm out on vacation next week, but the amazing Stacy Jones will be filling in. If you're into fly-fishing, follow along here. Until next we meet, tight lines and clear skies.
Superstar engineer Erica Baker leaves Slack for Kickstarter
Erica Baker, an engineer and one of tech's most outspoken advocates for diversity, is leaving her post at Slack and heading to Brooklyn, where she will become Kickstarter's new director of engineering. It’s a fast-track move into a leadership post, Baker told Techcrunch. “It has less to do with the [leaving the] company and more to do with opportunities for personal career growth,” she said. Although Kickstarter has yet to release a diversity report, they’ve released some demographic data: The company is 70% white. But a true diversity report is one of Baker’s priorities, even though D&I will not be part of her official role. That's just her, doing the work. Baker will report to Lara Hogan, the company’s VP of engineering.
James Comey was once a student reporter who investigated the lack of racial diversity at his college
I know this is the least important part of the James Comey story, but it sure is interesting. In 1980, Comey, a student journalist at the College of William & Mary, addressed the challenge of recruiting and retaining black students and faculty in a three-part series for The Flat Hat, the student-run newspaper. At the time, there were only three black faculty members, and black student recruitment efforts were flailing. Though "[a] large majority of the college’s administration voice the need for a larger black student population to create a more balanced institution," he began, Comey also cited the views of a dissenting sociology professor named Vernon Edmonds. “Edmonds sees reverse discrimination at William and Mary in the form of enrolled blacks who he contends would not be at William and Mary if they were white, and are actually taking the places of qualified white students," he wrote. The inclusion of Edmond’s comments created a firestorm on campus that took weeks to resolve. But Comey, as per usual, didn’t blink.
The endless war against Colin Kaepernick
You may have heard some things about Kaepernick. He’s out of shape. He’s distracted. He’s a vegetarian now. He’s demanding more cash. But according to Dave Zirin, the sports editor of The Nation, the narrative that’s out there is a disinformation campaign. The quarterback trains six days a week. He is not holding out for more money and is prepared to negotiate in good faith. “The truth is as ugly as sin,” says Zirin. “The NFL is denying Kaepernick employment not because he isn’t ‘good enough’ but because he is being shut out for the crime of using his platform to protest the killing of black kids by police. This makes the league’s right-wing billionaire owners’ silk boxers bunch up.”
Older Asian-Americans are suffering from untreated depression and anxiety in high numbers
But, explains Kimberly Yam, they rarely seek help. “Mental health is a touchy subject in the Asian-American community, especially for the senior population,” she says. “But experts say it’s time to start talking about it.” Older Asian-Americans are afraid to talk about their mental health for fear of bringing shame upon their families. But the secrecy is taking a terrible toll. The American Psychological Association reports that Asian-American senior women have the highest suicide rate of any racial group, and Asian-Americans as a whole are three times less likely to seek any sort of mental health care.
Arizona’s Confederate monuments are actually pretty new
There are six major Confederate monuments spread around Arizona, and recent calls to have them removed have revealed a difficult history and a nasty divide. While Arizona was not an official Confederate State, one territory in Arizona was briefly pro-Confederate during the Civil War. But the monuments in question popped up in the years after the war ended, one as recently as 2010. They were erected by true Southerners who relocated in droves to Arizona after WWII, and who brought a nostalgia for the old plantations with them. “It wasn't until the mid-1950s that Confederate heritage groups became a significant presence in Arizona,” explains this piece in the Phoenix New Times. “It was hardly a fringe movement: When the Civil War centennial rolled around in 1961, Arizona recognized the anniversary by flying the Confederate flag over the State Capitol.” They’re not kidding around. A small skirmish known as The Battle of Picacho Pass now has more monuments and markers to it than the number troops killed in the fight.
The Woke Leader
The extent of Roxane Gay’s “Hunger”
Writer Rebecca Carroll reviews “Hunger,” the latest full-length memoir by writer celeb Roxane Gay. It is, according to Carroll, a candid, vivid and self-aware account of Gay’s experience of living inside her own body; by virtue of that alone, a poignant read for most women. “This is a book,” writes Gay, “about living in the world when you are three or four hundred pounds overweight, when you are not obese or morbidly obese but super morbidly obese.” It’s also a book about sexual assault, the trauma experienced by immigrant families, and the search for a comfort free from shame. But, says Carroll, “[t]he critical beauty of ‘Hunger’ is that Gay is so much smarter than everyone who has judged her based on her appearance, which she manages to convey without airs or ever actually stating this as fact.”
On being black and a lawyer in Jim Crow’s America
Vernon Jordan begins this essay, an adaptation from recent remarks to the Harvard Law Center, with a poignant memory of being a young boy living in the projects in 1940s Georgia. He was listening to the radio report on an upcoming gubernatorial election. He remembers “Governor Talmadge coming on WSB radio, describing the two planks of his platform, which, as I recall them, were ‘niggers’ and ‘roads.’ As I recall, he was against the first and for the second.” What follows is an extraordinary history of and tribute to the many African-American lawyers who used legal means to right terrible wrongs. “The laws that defined and circumscribed life in the Jim Crow South were warped, but it was also the law—farsighted, fair-minded jurisprudence—that gave us the tools to dismantle segregation, piece by rotten piece,” he writes. Click through for an amazing photo of a young Thurgood Marshall. It will make your day.
The importance of street style and dandyism
Shantrelle Lewis’s latest book "Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style," is a fascinating visual look at the global “dandy” phenomenon: The sharply dressed, vibrant, and uniquely confident black man. Lewis elevates the subject beyond mere fashion talk. For her, the dandy is a glorious result of men who refused to be typecast; the contribution of the dandy movement is as nuanced an expression of black culture as is music or performance. “Like many others in my community and throughout the diaspora, I was exasperated by the repetitive and oversaturated manufactured image of Black masculinity,” she told Paper. The colorful stylings of the dandy are a celebration of self in a world where black lives don’t matter and black men are suspects. “Thus, to dress outside of that uniform, is to act from a place of agency, to contradict, to rebel,” she writes. The photos are magnificent.
We need to stop playing Privilege or Oppression Olympics because we’ll never get anywhere until we find more effective ways of talking through difference. We should be able to say, 'This is my truth,' and have that truth stand without a hundred clamoring voices shouting, giving the impression that multiple truths cannot coexist.