I read a lot. This is a selection of what I read this week (11/03/20 through 11/16/2020) that I think you should read, too.
*Angus Chen’s 52 Million-Year-Old Tomatillo Fossils Rewrite Veggie History for NPR’s The Salt: Nightshades, the plants responsible for giving us potatoes, tobacco, eggplants, peppers, belladonna, and more, at minimum appeared a full millennium before scientists theorized. At minimum. And this knowledge is all thanks to a tiny, hyperdetailed fossil no bigger than a pen cap.
*Gail DeLaughter’s Report: Texas Is One Of The Top Locations For White Supremacist Propaganda for Houston Public Media: This article is from February, but it’s still relevant. Racism isn’t going to go away just because the White House will have a less horrifying occupant. Texans still need to keep their eyes out for white supremacist activities and fight hate right here in the hotbed.
*Arvin Joaquin’s He survived Chechnya’s LGBTQ purge. Now, he’s ready to tell his story for Xtra: Amin Dzhabrailov was able to flee Chechnya and resettle in Toronto, and now that he’s safe he’s able to bear witness to the human rights atrocities committed against LGBTQIAP+ people in his home country.
*Danny Lewis’ A Brief History of Children Sent Through the Mail for Smithsonian Magazine: Rather than paying for train tickets, parents in remote regions of the United States would instead pay postage and “mail” their children through the USPS to visit relatives. It wasn’t a terribly common practice, but it is an interesting piece of postal history.
*Terese Marie Mailhot’s Self-Help Isn’t Enough For Native Women for Huffington Post: This piece was originally published in Indian Country Today, but I seem to have permissions errors whenever I try to access the URL for the story there. It goes into how the concept of the “self” and its applications in psychology don’t apply to indigenous cultures. Nor does it take into account the existential pain of belonging to an ethnic group that the world tries to actively erase and suppress. Mental “help” doesn’t always help everyone.
*Hettie O’Brien’s How mindfulness privatised a social problem for New Statesman: The power of positive thinking and mindfulness exercises provide a handy excuse for many in power to neglect the social ills that often exacerbate mental illness in the first place. O’Brien cites an example of tenets getting evicted from their apartments after their building was sold off. As they scrambled to figure out where to live next with so little notice, their leasing company provided them with workshops to lecture them on how happiness and stress are really just states of mind if you really think about it, and they are the arbiters of their own success. No genuinely assistance with navigating a difficult situation, just grotesquely insulting platitudes.
*Shawn Regan’s 5 Ways The Government Keeps Native Americans In Poverty for Forbes: Broken treaties, excessive bureaucracy, and a Bureau of Indian Affairs with no interest in Indian Affairs have all contributed to the history of indigenous genocide in the United States. Learn how all of these factors have led to generational poverty in Native American communities.
*mary retta’s the fifth wave at close but not quite: What factors will make up the fifth eave of feminism? When is representation not enough, and how often is it used as an excuse to neglect intersectionality? This excellent dissection about the inadequacies of fourth wave feminism and areas where online activism falls short posits what a forward-thinking feminism could (and should) look like.
*Jessica Vincent’s Indigenous Women Are Publishing the First Maya Works in Over 400 Years for Atlas Obscura: The Taller Leñateros collective in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico devotes itself to bookmaking by hand using recycled and discarded materials and publishing works to help preserve Tzotzil, the language spoken by the Mayans of the region. It began in 1975 with 150 women, though these days the numbers have dwindled and the members live in a constant fear of losing their property.
As always, my weeklies/weeklies-ish:
*Huda Fahmy’s Yes I’m Hot in This
*Phylecia Miller and Jules Rivera’s Hi, Phylecia!
*Taejoon Park’s Lookism
*Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail
*Linda Sejic’s Punderworld
*Jessi Sharon’s The Sea in You
*Rachel Smythe’s Lore Olympus
*Sensaga’s Ham and Mat
*Steenz’s Heart of the City
I didn’t make as much progress on I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala as I had hoped, but I did read the chapters regarding what life is like for migrant workers on the sugarcane and coffee plantations as well as the K’iche’ marriage customs. The chapters about the exploitative labor practices are harrowing reading, but crucial to understanding Guatemalan history. One of the stories centers on a plantation owner requiring all of his laborers, many of them illiterate and unaware of an election, to vote for his preferred candidate, sending soldiers and overseers to intimidate them into marking the “correct” choices on the ballots. Another focuses on the malnutrition and child death endemic to the plantations, with the owners requiring laborers to purchase medicine and food from them at marked-up prices. It’s a system designed to keep indigenous workers in a perpetual cycle of debt and poverty.
Again, I’d like to reiterate that this work is part of the testimonio genre. It is not Rigoberta Menchú’s literal autobiography. It’s a testimonial of the K’iche’ peoples’ lives, experiences, and traditions told in the first person singular perspective, so her own personal stories intermix with those of her families and community.
See you next week, fellow bookish buffs!
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