Week In Review
The Week In Review is a roundup of interesting, inspiring or thought-provoking things I've read this week. "How are you to imagine anything if the images are always provided for you? To defend ourselves...we must learn to read. To stimulate our own imagination, to cultivate our own consciousness, our own belief system. We all need these skills to defend, to preserve, our own minds." -- Adrien Brody
on the past
To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation | Jeanne Marie Laskas, The New York Times Magazine
A vet who can’t stop seeing what he saw in Iraq writes a barely intelligible rant that makes his point all the more intelligible: “Help.” An inmate admits to selling crack to all those people but he wants the president to know he is not a lost cause: “I have dreams Mr. President, big dreams.” A man can’t find a job. A woman can’t find a job. A teacher with advanced certification can’t find a damn job. A lesbian couple just got married; thank you, Mr. President. A man sends his medical bills, a woman sends her student-loan statements, a child sends her drawing of a cat, a mother sends her teenager’s report card — straight A’s, isn’t that awesome, Mr. President?
This pile, that pile, another pile over there; pull from the middle if you want. The narrative was sloppy and urgent, America talking all at once. No filter. The handwriting, the ink, the choice of letterhead — every letter was a real object from a real person, and now you were holding it, and so now you were responsible for it.
on the present
To understand the Women's March on Washington, you need to understand intersectional feminism | Jenée Desmond-Harris, Vox
The word "Intersectionality" itself isn’t important — but the concept behind it is. Without it, there’s no way to talk about the experience of people who belong to more than one oppressed group. At its most simple, in the feminist context, it means recognizing that not all women are white, and some LGBTQ people and people of color are women. That’s not controversial, really — it’s just reality.
This helps explain why it mostly comes up in public debates when it’s missing, and when this missing analysis means some people (normally women of color) have been ignored. This is similar to the way we often hear about feminist critiques in response to examples of misogyny flares up or when efforts to make things equal for women fall short.
More than a century later, the feminist cause is still held back by the suffrage movement's racist legacy, and even as the upcoming Women's March strives toward intersectionality — a feminism that presents social oppression, whether as a result of sex or race or ability or orientation or class or religion, as interwoven threads in the same web — it raises questions about the progress we've made in understanding unqualified equality.
When it materialized after Trump's election in November, the Women's March presented parallels with the Suffrage Parade in the eyes of some critics. Once again, women would come together to advocate for their rights. And once again, the voice the world would hear would be the united voice of white women, while everyone else marched behind, relegated to a lesser rank.
on the future
The Relevance of Hope Under Trump | Ronald Aronson, The Nation
Though the Sanders campaign did not hinge explicitly on a slogan of hope, unlike Obama eight years earlier, it more concretely contained the stuff of social hope, becoming a movement built on sincerity, idealism, a rejection of cynicism, and a striking sense of possibility...Yes, Trump stirred hopes of millions of working-class voters, but this was not the social hope I’ve been describing but its distorting-mirror opposite. Like other anti-hope movements in the last century, it encouraged a regressive faith in the authoritarian strongman: If we can’t change things—more precisely if we can’t make things the way they used to be—maybe he can...
Now that Trump is president, an even larger movement is beginning to form, seeking to mobilize the power of resistance. It seems likely to organize on many levels and involve millions, around a single goal: to block Trump. Even if it is not a movement for a given program, in acting together people will once again feel their power, and possibly in a far wider collectivity than ever before in the history of this country. It will be primarily a defensive movement, but the experience will transform people who participate. Who knows where it will lead?
What have you read this week? Please share. And keep marching on.