- Self-Portrait Of The Artist As Ungrateful Black Writer – Saeed Jones shares his experiences as the rare black writer in an overwhelmingly white literary establishment. Heartbreaking and enraging at the same time.
By the time my colleague and I managed to meet in the middle of the crowd, a poet from New York whom I hadn’t seen in months made his way toward me as well. His smile calmed me down. I’m not alone anymore, I thought. And if I’m not alone, I’m not invisible.
“You’ve grown out your hair,” the poet said, the ice in his cocktail catching light. “Now I’m going to do that racist thing where I touch your hair,” he said as he reached for my afro. His fingers tested the texture of my hair, the way you might squeeze a bath sponge. My colleague and I locked eyes; she seemed horrified but I never stopped smiling, not once. I smiled like it was an affliction because somewhere along the way I picked up the idea that when you’re a young black writer among the literary elite you can’t be both grateful and angry, or proud and humiliated — though, of course, I was.
- Matrilines: The Woman Who Made Fantasy: Katherine Kurtz – SFF is roiling with drama once again, this time over far-right saboteurs gaming the Hugo Award nominations, but here’s a nice post about a female author’s contributions to the genre as a pioneer of fantasy.
That was now long enough ago that academics and critics are studying it, classifying and analyzing and assessing those books and writers and creating, as always seems to happen, a canon, a body of fantasy work that can be considered significant. New readers are told who is worth remembering, new writers pointed to worthy forebears. We are writing our history, shaping our genre to our cultural norms of value and hierarchy and status.
And we are leaving out the women. When Joanna Russ published How to Suppress Women’s Writing, she laid out in stark form the modes western culture uses to elide and silence women’s work. Deny, particularize, limit. She did not specify “forget,” but she might well have, for that is how we behave to our female antecedents, over and over, when we create canon. That is what is happening now in our analyses of fantasy. When I set out to write the first installment of this column, I pulled various books on fantasy from my shelves and checked the indices. I was looking for one particular name. They are all excellent books, important contributions to the genre, but most of them did not mention this name at all, and those that did referred to it only in passing. Yet the name I was hunting for was that of a writer who was in many ways the spearhead of the boom, an innovator, a game-changer.
What was the name for which I was searching? Katherine Kurtz.
- Girl Guides and MI5 – So how cool is this? British Girl Scouts were used as spy messengers during WWI.
Working for MI5 is probably the last thing you would expect of a Girl Guide, but a top-secret document has revealed that 90 teenage Guides worked for security service MI5 in the First World War. It explains their working conditions, responsibilities, qualifications and pay scales.
All the girls who worked for MI5 between 1914 and 1918 were aged from 14 to 16. Their main role was as 50p-a-week messengers distributing highly classified information. The teenagers were so trusted by MI5 that they were allowed to relay some of the messages verbally. At the start of the war Boy Scouts were also used. But it quickly became clear that Girl Guides were more efficient because they were less boisterous and talkative.
- Wearing a Hijab for Lent Is No Way to Demonstrate Solidarity – I’d seen this #40DaysofHijab lady float across my timeline and rolled my eyes. If you want to know what it’s like to wear a hijab in America, why not take the word of American Muslim women as the experts of their own experiences? I guess that doesn’t allow her to center herself as the star, though.
Too often, Muslim women find ourselves left out of conversations about our own bodies and lives. Unfortunately, the latest media craze about Muslim culture is no different—as CNN, BuzzFeed, BBC, and a number of other mainstream media outlets highlight one woman’s quest to wear the hijab for Lent.
Jessey Eagan, a white Christian woman living in Peoria, Illinois, told the Christian Post that she is wearing the hijab for 40 days so that she can “love other people who are friends, strangers and enemies.” Eagan has taken to documenting her journey on #40DaysOfHijab; she has also given multiple interviews to national news sites about what she’s learned so far. Eagan’s troubling attempt to promote diversity also includes using makeup to “darken” her complexion before going “out into the community.”
- A tale of two killings: what happened when Idaho police shot a dog and a pregnant woman in one day – Police brutality is both a race issue and a disability issue. A large percentage of people killed by police had a mental illness. Clearly there need to be major changes to how cops are trained to handle people in crisis.
Two fatal police shootings unfolded within 14 hours, both in lakeside towns in the same corner of north-west Idaho.
The first victim was Jeanetta Riley, a troubled 35-year-old pregnant woman, shot dead by police as she brandished a knife outside a hospital in the town of Sandpoint. Her death barely ruffled the tight-knit rural community, which mostly backed the officers, who were cleared of wrongdoing before the case was closed.
The second shooting, in nearby Coeur d’Alene, sparked uproar. There were rallies, protests, sinister threats against the officer responsible, and a viral campaign that spread well beyond the town and drew an apology from the mayor. The killing was ruled unjustified, and the police chief introduced new training for his officers.
The victim of the second shooting: a dog named Arfee.
- NFL hires first female official, according to report – Some good news out of the NFL for once. I hope she does well and doesn’t have to deal with any sexist bullshit.
The NFL is set to hire its first full-time female official, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
Sarah Thomas, a Mississippi native who Wilson said has been a finalist for an NFL position previously, has officiated Conference USA games in the NCAA for nearly a decade. She has also officiated during NFL camps and the preseason previously.
A technicality would keep Thomas from being the first woman to ever officiate an NFL game, though. That honor belongs to Shannon Eastin, who was on the field working when replacement officials were brought in by the league during a referee lockout in 2012. Thomas, however, would be the first female to be hired as a regular official by the NFL.