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A Setback in Flint: RaceAhead

June 14, 2019, 9:42 PM UTC

Here’s your week in review, in haiku.



I would like to be

remembered as a movie

star and astronaut



Lady Liberty

may need a life preserver,

or maybe she won’t



Wages. Time. Respect.

Sing. All the Suisse ladies,

Now put your signs up!



Tesla drives, Samsung

fits, Pixel leaks, Broadcom skips.

Stocks rally! Oh, wait


See the world slowly

transformed into wilderness.

We must stop the pain.


Have a memorable and equality-filled weekend.

On Point

Setback in prosecutorial efforts in Flint, MichiganIn a surprising move, prosecutors dropped all pending charges against Flint officials who had stood accused of ruining the city’s water supply. It had been more than three years since the first charges were filed by the Michigan attorney general’s office. In a city where attitudes toward government is now as toxic as the drinking water, the move was a major setback. While prosecutors said they could still file new charges and find new defendants, the case in its current form was problematic. “It is frustrating, but I’d rather be frustrated at this end and know that they’re going to do a deep dive into what happened,” said Flint’s mayor, Karen Weaver.New York Times

Test used to diagnose depression primarily works for white patients
A recent study from the University of Chicago Press found that the widely-used test for depression, known as the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), is primarily effective only in diagnosing white people. Depression can and does express very differently in people of different and ethnic backgrounds, including black youth, particularly those living in poverty. Teen Vogue does a beautiful job finding sources and data points for this alarming discovery, including resources that explain how socioeconomic status and racism impact mental health. Black people are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than white adults.
Teen Vogue

Tracee Ellis Ross to executive produce and star a spin-off of MTV’s cult classic Daria
Tracee Ellis Ross (of Black-ish) will be voicing and executive producing Jodie, the Daria spin-off featuring Daria’s best friend, who was a fan favorite from the original series. The show will follow Jodie’s life past Lawndale High, as she enters the workforce, and will explore (and parody) themes like work culture and generational struggles, while also discussing race and gender. “Being able to give voice to fresh, feminist, and unexplored stories of young women excites me,” Ross said of the role, according to Deadline, also noting that it “will be the first adult animated show in almost 20 years that will star a black woman.” Jodie is created and written by Insecure’s Grace Nkenge Edwards, and Trevor Rose, Morgana Rosenberg, and Amy Doyle will also executive produce.



On Background

The history of the transgender flag
Thanks to Refinery 29’s Erika W. Smith, I know now that in addition to the rainbow Pride Flag, there is also a Bisexual Pride Flag, a Pansexual Pride Flag, an Asexual Pride Flagand many others. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Transgender Pride Flag, which was created by activist and author Monica Helms, and is a dreamy confection of horizontal stripes, two baby blue, two pink and one white in the middle. While it draws from the traditional “baby” colors for girls and boys, the white stripe includes intersex, transitioning and gender neutral people. "The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives,” Helms said.
Refinery 29

Re-thinking stories about disabilty
Writer David M. Perry begins this extraordinary essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books with this heartfelt credential: “Nine years ago, when my son was diagnosed with Down syndrome a few minutes after his birth, I leaned heavily on the writings of Michael Bérubé.” It was a time when expectations were dashed and identities dissolved, then re-formed. Bérubé, whose worked turned to intellectual disability after his own son was diagnosed with Down syndrome, was a cultural and literary critic with a new lens through which to examine the world. While not about disability per se, he began to rethink everything from Don Quixote to Harry Potter through a “narrative deployment of disability.” “Overall, Bérubé argues that such narrative deployments can provide ‘powerful meditations on what it means to be a social being, a sentient creature with an awareness of mortality and causality — and sentience itself.’”
Los Angeles Review of Books

Memories from the Russian Gulag
Varlam Shalamov, a counter-revolutionary writer, spent fifteen years in the horrific Russian Gulag system, six of them enslaved in one of the coldest, harshest gold mines known to exist. He was released in 1951. This fragmented list of learnings from that experience belies a deep wound that clearly didn’t heal years later; the utter despair that he endured would be inspirational if it weren’t for the utter depravity of the reason for his imprisonment. Number one on this list: “The extreme fragility of human culture, civilization,” he writes. “A man becomes a beast in three weeks, given heavy labor, cold, hunger, and beatings.”
The Paris Review

Tamara El-Waylly helps produce raceAhead and assisted in the preparation of today's summaries.


I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if … if only there were no other people in the world.
—The last entry in Anne Frank's diary. She would have turned ninety this week