Friday, June 26, 2015

Weekend Reading: The Change Takes Work Edition

This has been quite the week, hasn't it? It was not a week in which I managed to write any of the blog posts I have queued up, but the blame for that falls on our remodeling project and not the historic events outside our little family bubble.

I will probably blog about the remodeling project eventually, but today seems a day to talk about the historic events.

I think we all get a bit cynical sometimes about the possibility of change. Weeks like this remind us both how possible it is and how hard we have to fight for it.

We saw Confederate flags start to come down across the South.

If you're wanting to understand more about the history of that flag and the tragic missed opportunity for true racial reconciliation that followed the Civil War, Tony Horowitz' article at Talking Points Memo is a good place to start. I don't know as much about this period of my history as I probably should. Jamelle Bouie and Rebecca Onion are doing a podcast about this history, available to Slate+ subscribers. I may sign up and listen to the podcast. The Twitter conversations about history between Bouie and Ta-Nehisi Coates are pretty great, so I suspect the podcast will be good, too. I don't mind paying for good content (and, in fact, had been planning a "find a way to pay for what I'm enjoying on the internet" campaign soon), so the only thing stopping me is the knowledge that I'll have to figure out how to get these podcasts added to my podcast listening app.

It is easy to dismiss that flag as "just a symbol" and the fact that it is coming down as "not the real issue," but I believe the Black people I've heard talk about this and seen write about it, and they are uniformly of the opinion that this is a big, important thing.

After all, symbols matter. Symbols, by definition, represent other things, and no amount of "heritage, not hate" rhetoric can mask what the Confederate flag represented. May it come down everywhere, and may we eventually learn to consign the ugliness it represents to a museum, too.

But we are not there yet- and I have a couple of links about the Charleston shootings that I think you should read.

Roxane Gay writes eloquently and powerfully about why she will not forgive the Charleston murderer.

Kiese Laymon talks to his Grandma in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting.

Paul Krugman's essay on the long economic and policy shadow of slavery is pretty sobering.

And the funeral of Clementa Pinkney, the pastor and state senator killed in Charleston, was today.

If I ever need to be reminded of why we cannot stop fighting the hatred embodied in the Charleston attack, I will just look back at this tweet:


If you haven't watched President Obama lead the congregation in Amazing Grace, here's your chance to do so




I haven't had a chance to listen to his entire speech yet, but I plan to listen this weekend, or maybe read the transcript.

I have never been among the people who disparage Obama as a President. To me, it seems that he has had the priorities he promised to have, and has gotten quite a bit done despite obstructionist opposition. Even if he had accomplished nothing else, the Affordable Care Act alone would be a pretty good legacy- and as Dylan Matthews argues at Vox he's done more than that, too.

And of course, the Supreme Court has been issuing rulings. There was the ruling on the ACA, which was a huge deal but soon overshadowed by the ruling on same sex marriage, which made today such a mix of joy (at the ruling) and sadness (for Pinckney and the others killed in Charleston).

I have a few more links, less directly related to this week's big events.

Chris Hayes (of MSNBC fame) wrote a devastating and depressing essay about global warming and the effort that will be required to fight it. If you read nothing else in this post, read this one. It will really make you think.

Timothy Lee wrote an article about not demonizing people who disagree with you.

I think there is a lesson in the synthesis of those last two links, but I haven't really been able to articulate it yet. Maybe that we need to find a way to help the climate change deniers de-escalate instead of escalate their commitment to their beliefs and the rhetoric they use to espouse them- and that demonizing them is almost certainly not that way?

And we need to keep working to address climate change, we really do.

On leaving the tech industry.

On not being able to get a job in Silicon Valley in the first place.

Glass Ceiling, a poem by T.R. Hummer

Because we need something fun to end on:


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