it's the latest edition of
The Recommentunde Newsletter
For the week that began August 19 2019
Welcome back, and hello new subscribers. My mother Arnita Lorraine Thurston passed away 14 years ago. This past Saturday would have been her 79th birthday, so happy birthday Ma!
Now, a reflection on last week’s newsletter in which I only recommended one thing, the killer article by Casey Gerald reflecting on 400 years of black folks in America and how to achieve freedom of the mind and spirit in a place committed to our destruction.
I asked y’all to share what you thought, and to my great surprise many of you did. Here are a few of the things you shared.
“As a Texan, a grandchild of sharecroppers, and as pale as plain milk, Mr. Gerald has troubled my mind. My heart searches for ways to bring peace, but my soul seeks the transformation only a nap and dreams can restore.”
“I recall a young Black intern in my office describing the dress code at his [historically black college] — jackets and ties for the men, skirts and hose for the women — plus if you were even a minute late for class you would be locked out. He seemed proud of the standards, and the older Black head secretary was nodding in approval as she listened to him. I too was impressed with this standard of professionalism, but then I flashed on an image of my kids (we are what is called White), whom I knew sometimes went to class in their pajamas at college. And the thought that this is what Black people have to make their kids do so their kids don’t scare the White people.”
“This piece sung to me and resonated on so many different levels.”
“I have come to realize the depth and strength of racism and judgmental attitudes in this country like I never have before. I also realize that showing people examples of hatred, of racism, of incredibly poor judgement and the impact of those decisions on the victims holds little power. I am a part of this culture so I must also have some of those attitudes, those responses, those instincts inside me too. I can see my family members, my friends, my classmates are blind to these actions, these instincts, these attitudes, so I must be too. I need to search deeper inside to see what I have not realized. I also need to support a radical turn in this country.”
“Thank you for sharing this powerful essay. I will share it with my students.”
“I am currently perfecting this art of escape for myself and I needed this piece in ways and for reasons could not have articulated until I read it.”
Thanks again for those who shared with me and for all who read what I share. Someone let me know there’s a forthcoming book called The Last Negroes at Harvard I’m now dying to read, so thanks for the recommendation to the recommender.
Let us continue with items from last week:
Now that you’ve completed the prerequisite that is Casey’s opus, you are prepared to dive in to the New York Times 1619 Project, which examines the long term effects of slavery on the United States. You start with America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One and continue from there.
One such legacy of slavery is the continued effort to disenfranchise black voters. Recognizing this you turn your attention to former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and the work she’s doing on voter protection. You probably decide she and her team deserve your email address and your money.
You know from your own experience that incompetence can also be effective, sadly, but maybe you didn’t realize that Hitler Was Incompetent and Lazy, and yet he had a devastating impact on the world.
You’ve heard about the “inverted yield curve” for government bonds in the U.S. and how that might be a precursor to a recession, but like me, you likely don’t know what that means. Fortunately, Twitter is filled with more than just Nazis and presidential misspellings, so you read this educational thread and wonder why your economics professor wasn’t this good.
From the decline of one empire to the rise of another, you see how China uses new tools of influence to express its power, in this case by policing the activities of global brands like Versace.
Intermission: I traveled to Toronto, Canada last week to address a group of 800 elementary school teachers about anti-black racism, and as I try to do with every international trip, I sampled the public transit, confirmed everywhere else does it better than the USA, and put the highlights on Instagram for you.
We’ve heard “Old Town Road” approximately 2.6 bajillion times. After reading this piece you appreciate how the song’s success is a wonderful thing for our generally fractured culture.
You pour some out for the icebergs that ain’t here after learning that Iceland Held A Funeral For Its First Glacier Lost To Climate Change And Left This Warning Sign.
For the US residents among you, you realize that the climate crisis is hitting much closer to home than Iceland with many parts of the country already at 2° C of warming.
And now for the dismount.
This Twitter thread by Suzanne Boswell explaining the greatness of US gymnast Simone Biles brought me so much joy, I put it up on the big screen TV during a dinner party and walked everyone through it. Now I do the same for you. Bon appétit!
Peace and Love to you.