Here’s your week in review, in haiku
All pay tribute to
the Queen of Soul! Madonna:
Wait, hold my dreadlocks.
Nixon smiles, then nods.
“The challenge, really, is to
Pecker puts the Pres
in a Pickle! (We are all
nine-year-old boys now.)
Big Island floods while
Berlin burns. A summer of
She march for us, she
hire us, she is the gift:
It’s Ava’s born day.
Have a joyous and celebratory weekend.
|Nebraska state senator: diversity directors will hurt white people|
|State senator Steve Erdman posted a letter to constituents on the legislature’s website, positing that creating a director of diversity position at the University of Nebraska would disadvantage Christian white men and fill the school with under-qualified minorities with an “extremist progressive worldview.” The screed, which mentions Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and worries that “any student who dares to suggest that marriage should be defined as the union between a man and a woman will quickly find himself being beaten down by a torrent of LGBTQ complaints followed by psycho-analysis and reprogramming.” (He shouts out George Washington Carver, though.) NU President Hank Bounds responded, “For any elected official to champion these kinds of dangerous views only serves to damage our great state and our ability to recruit and retain the top talent that will grow Nebraska for the future.”|
|White supremacists: Donald Trump’s tweet is good for white South African farmers|
|The concern for the safety and sovereignty of South African farmers has long been a niche issue for committed racists; the idea that “white land” is being taken away without compensation is an animating element of a broader set of beliefs that encompass both white supremacy and white victimhood. The South African government was forced to debunk the president’s tweet on the subject, but alt-right leaders goose-stepped in lockstep. “South Africa serves as a warning to people of European heritage all around the world,” tweeted the American neo-Nazi organization Identity Evropa. Podcaster Mike Enoch tweeted, “It may seem like a small thing, but this is how we slowly chip away at the all-consuming anti-white discourse.” And then blah blah blah Alex Jones, for hours. Click through for more.|
The Woke Leader
|The content moderation challenge for Facebook|
|Motherboard has published a lengthy piece based on dozens of interviews and leaked documents that describe in some detail the history of “content moderation” on Facebook. Put another way, it paints a picture of a slow-motion failure of the platform to competently address hate, racism, bullying, and misogyny in the feeds of now two billion users. Fake news aside, “the perhaps more challenging problem—and one that is baked into the platform’s design—is how to moderate the speech of users who aren’t fundamentally trying to game the platform or undermine democracy, but are simply using it on a daily basis in ways that can potentially hurt others.”|
|Gaming a clueless system|
|If you are skeptical of Facebook’s capacity to train the monster it created (see above), then this analysis from Leah Wright Rigueur and Bärí A. Williams will bolster your case. They describe in detail the U.S’s long history of anti-democratic behavior and racist voter suppression tactics. And now, thanks to “dark posts” and similar targeting, bad actors can spread false and manipulative messages at scale. “Anyone or any group that seeks to depress or suppress the turnout of a particular constituency now has the unregulated technological means and platform to do so,” they say. Why did the company not see this coming? “Cambridge Analytica’s ability to target marginalized groups of voters was only possible because Facebook completely overlooked the potential for a nefarious organization to do so.” It’s the meritocracy at work. “That, in turn, is a reflection of the absence of diversity in Silicon Valley, especially in leadership and policymaking positions.”|
|A critique of Crazy Rich Asians|
|(Warning, mild spoilers ahead if you click through.) Muqing M. Zhang calls out Awkwafina, who plays Goh Peik Lin, a lively sidekick to the main character played by Constance Wu. While the original character is a Singaporean rich girl who went to Stanford, Zhang says that her portrayal is problematic. “Awkwafina’s Peik Lin is a minstrel-esque performance of the ‘sassy Black sidekick’ caricature, complete with the actress speaking in forced African American Vernacular English (AAVE).” Now, to be fair, this is Awkwafina’s whole thing, and there are plenty of Asian performers who have adopted black cultural mannerisms. Why? “First, these performances demonstrate a cultural deficit that we yearn to fill,” she posits, a reflection of the newness and diversity within “Asian Americans” as an identity. “This cultural emptiness is what makes us look to the cloak of Black American cool, to swaddle ourselves in a rich culture that feels American, but not White.”|