This week was too much. Another mass shooting – this time in Michigan. Train derailments and chemical spills in Ohio and Detroit. There were also SO MANY INTERVIEWS this week. Highlights: NYT Contributors’ Letter, Angela Bassett, Nia Long, Solange, Rihanna, Justina Miles, ‘Woke,’ “burnout,” our memory archives, and slime mold.
The New York Times has long been criticized for its anti-trans bias. This week, contributors to the magazine penned an open letter to Philip B. Corbett, associate managing editor for standards at the publication, calling its coverage out.
The letter states that “the Times has in recent years treated gender diversity with an eerily familiar mix of pseudoscience and euphemistic, charged language, while publishing reporting on trans children that omits relevant information about its sources,” pointing to numerous articles and op-eds that had anti-trans bias, and the paper’s history of homophobia dating back to 1963.
The letter has been signed by over 180 contributors and supported by hundreds of other people who work in media.
I think Black women around the same age as me have grown up watching and loving Angela Bassett. We’ve always known her royalty, always marveled at her “diamond-sharp beauty, and depth of feeling” (not to mention those arms!). Bassett received her second Academy Award nomination for her role in Wakanda Forever, and is the first actor to be nominated for a role in a Marvel film.
In this fun interview with Michael Schulman she talks about her career from her time at Yale, to How Stella Got Her Groove Back, to Black Panther, to maybe wearing purple at the Oscars. Whatever she wears, she is sure to be resplendent.
I am so glad we are starting to see more of Nia Long again! Long’s decades-long career began in the 1990s with films like Boyz n the Hood, Friday, and The Best Man. Over the past few months, “Long reprised her role as workaholic Jordan Armstrong in The Best Man: The Final Chapters, which set a ratings record for Peacock and brought beloved movie characters into people’s living rooms… A month later, the thriller Missing hit theaters, pairing Long with Storm Reid, who plays a frantic daughter on a search for her mother. And finally, streaming now is the Kenya Barris–directed Netflix rom-com You People: Jonah Hill and Lauren London play a couple facing family discord over their racial differences; as London’s poker-faced mom, Long co-stars alongside Eddie Murphy.”
All of this came after she was embroiled in public drama last year when “news broke that her ex-fiancé and partner of 13 years, former Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, had had an affair with a staff member in the team’s organization.” Clover Hope sat down with Long over sushi to talk about her recent projects, life after the break up, parenting, people publicly crushing on her, and her absolutely perfect skin.
I am here for anything Solange does. “This year, Solange, the interdisciplinary studio and creative agency Saint Heron, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music will host Eldorado Ballroom.” Solange talked over the phone with Craig Jenkins “about her inspirations for Eldorado Ballroom, her passion for shining a light on impactful Black women innovating in creative fields, and the experiences in her Texas upbringing that have prepared her for an undertaking like this.” I looked up tickets IMMEDIATELY after reading this!
Rihanna gave a public performance for the first time since 2018 at last week’s Super Bowl and, baby, the internet had thoughts! In the performance, which mostly consisted of Rihanna singing a medley of hits, clad in red and paying homage to André Leon Talley, from a suspended stage, she revealed she is pregnant with her second child.
A lot of people thought the performances wasn’t giving, but I really enjoyed it! British Vogue also released a profile of the singer, so maybe Rihanna is back? We shall see.
The real winner of the Super Bowl, imho, was Rihanna’s ASL performer, Justina Miles, who ABSOLUTELY ATE. At 20 years old, she is the first deaf woman to sing the halftime performance. She also signed Lift Every Voice and Sing during the pregame show. This interview with Gayle King is so so so heartening!
Erykah Badu is largely credited with the popularization of “woke” after she used the phrase in 2008 on “Master Teacher.” But Badu learned the word from Georgia Anne Muldrow, who defines woke as “a black experience — woke is if someone put a burlap sack on your head, knocked you out, and put you in a new location and then you come to and understand where you are ain’t home and the people around you ain’t your neighbors. They’re not acting in a neighborly fashion, they’re the ones who conked you on your head. You got kidnapped here and then you got punked out of your own language, everything. That’s woke — understanding what your ancestors went through. Just being in touch with the struggle that our people have gone through here and understanding we’ve been fighting since the very day we touched down here. There was no year where the fight wasn’t going down.”
Since 2009, “stay woke’s fate has been unfortunate but unsurprising. Like anything created by Black people, the phrase was appropriated by the masses, transformed into a trend term before ultimately mutating into a meme and becoming a form of irony.” This is a fascinating conversation on the history of both “woke” and “Master Teacher.”
Conversations about “burnout” are everywhere. The first memory I have of the term going viral was after Anne Helen Petersen published ‘How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation’ in BuzzFeed in 2019. With that article, it seemed like the floodgates opened for people to pathologize the term.
Burnout was introduced to psychology discourse by Herbert Freudenberger, who learnt it from his time working in a free clinic in New York’s East Village during the 1970s where many landlords “collected enormous sums in the resulting insurance payouts” by burning their own buildings—largely in Black and brown neighborhoods. Like with many buzzwords, however, the popularization of the term led to the obfuscation of its origins as “slang for the effects of chronic drug use.” Bench Ansfield delves into this history, “Restoring the term “burnout” to its roots in landlord arson puts the dispossession of poor city dwellers at its center.”
Nona Fernández’s mother suffers from fainting spells, blacking out for a few seconds to a few minutes. As Fernández navigates the diagnosis of epilepsy, she starts to think about the relationship between neurons, the cosmos, memory, and the “black holes that lurk in her everyday memories bother her more than the bruises she collects each time she faints,” writing that “our archive of memories is the closest thing we have to a record of identity.”
I love mushrooming season. I don’t hunt for mushrooms, but one of my mentors does, and I love seeing what she finds on her Instagram stories. We live in similar parts of the country, where similar kinds of mushrooms and slime molds grow, but her way of seeing forests is totally different from mine.
Since coming across slime mold in a magazine in 2021 Lucy Jones has been captivated by its mystery and beauty, writing of how her “ways of seeing were altering, thanks to my new friends who were showing me what to look for. What was once invisible was quickly becoming apparent. It challenged my sense of perception. How little and how limited was my vision! How vast was the unknown world.”