Welcome to Issue 63.2 of Digestable, your thrice-weekly mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
Today’s news, fermented:
A messy assortment on this Monday morning:
Here’s the short list of companies/products to boycott because they’re made by companies that profit from Israel’s crimes.
This project “specifically reimagined and futured the Black Belt Region as fount and staging ground for a reparation-based Green New Deal. Working in five teams— mobility + access, food + fiber, housing + buildings, energy + waste, and water + climate—students created storymaps and stakeholder-power diagrams that reckoned with 21st century dilemmas, movements, and possibilities for just transitions in the Georgia Black Belt.” Cool stuff.
I listened to this album by a sweet friend, go listen to it!
It’s the middle of Pride month, a great month to be a corporation with a rainbow-rebranded logo. Popular Information wrote about some of the corporations that rainbow the shit out of their websites and storefronts while donating to anti-gay and anti-trans politicians.
Notable on this list are the fossil fuel corporations, which you can read more about here, and Johnson and Johnson, whose vaccine is in the blood streams of many people I love. On the heels of a mention about companies to boycott because of their role in Israeli apartheid, a question arises.
It’s easy for me to not buy Puma shoes or Pillsbury cookie dough in a tube, but there’s almost nothing I can do as a consumer about a (life-saving) vaccine (from a harmful corporation) my horrid government paid for, and we know that even if you bring your mug to the coffee shop and only ride a bicycle, our lives are inextricable, at this moment, from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.
Just another strong case, then, for dismantling the corporate welfare state our country calls a ‘democracy,’ because in this case, boycotting only goes so far. That said, boycott these companies profiting off of Palestinian displacement and genocide, and toss some of that money to the Transgender Emergency Fund in Massachusetts.
I was at an event this weekend where the president of the fund spoke. She said something along the lines of:
“Corporations, politicians, and nonprofits love to feature us on their social media accounts in June, pay us $75 to speak to their staff, so on—but where the fuck are they in December, when trans people are out on the street, in need of housing?”
The fund supports trans folks with homelessness prevention, food and clothing, and more.
Tomorrow, I’m heading to New Orleans for a work trip, so I’m getting ready to have this experience:
The Second Look
Half-baked cultural criticism from Gabriel Coleman.
So it’s pride month and if a well meaning book club in your life is looking for an appropriate book I can’t recommend The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi highly enough. I burned through the novel this weekend while on the train and the novel really hit me like a ton of beautiful bricks.
The book is about a group of queer adolescents growing up around Owerri, Nigeria - but I went in not knowing any of that. I picked up Vivek after being blown away by another of Emezi’s novels, Freshwater, a few years back. Normally I don’t care much about spoilers but I do recommend going into this one without knowing all the details. It’s not so much that there are shocking twists and turns, but the book is a slow discovery of its titular character and it's worth it to accompany the characters that ride.
The reader unfolds the character of Vivek Oji as a gradually set of images - the same way his mother comes to understand him after death and the same way the novel’s queer characters in discover themselves. The book includes no coming out, no moment of transitional finality, but a continuous process of self-discovery - the way I and many other queer people see ourselves as we move through our lives.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt as represented in a novel as I do by this book (and Emezi’s writing in general.) Though the characters Emezi writes are largely from Nigeria and have a drastically different experience of the world than my own, there’s this understanding of gender identity, sexuality, of outsider-ness that binds us. Seeing myself in the characters of Vivek has me thinking again of queer people as a sort of eternal and universal diaspora: many of us grow up without the company of other queer folk, often in places that either passively or violently attempt to erase us. At the same time, queer folk are everywhere - wherever I have found myself I’ve always been able to access a community that not only share my experience, but who want to embrace and support me.
I think this is a lot of what the Wachowskis were getting at with Sense 8 - a sense of being tethered to others across space and, in the case of Vivek Oji, beyond death - a desire to care for and support one another in a world that still, after marriage referendums and conversion therapy bans, lynches queer folks in the street and makes me pause before leaving the house in the outfit I’ve picked out. In The Death of Vivek Oji, Akwaeke Emezi shows us that community and family, both given and chosen, is what sustains us, what gives us space to breath under oppressive regimes, what allows us to wear our hair long, hold one another in public, bind our chests, and celebrate our bodies and ourselves.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
Ya'll, after the tizzy the world was sent into by the reunion of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, I am here to inform you that the late 90s and early 2000s are back in full force again, thanks to the potential reboot of another hot couple: Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie.
Jonny and Angie met on the set of Hackerswhen they were 19 years old and promptly fell in love. They got married six months later in a wedding ceremony that involved "blood and rubber" (of course). However, in 1999, the couple decided to divorce after a year of marriage, but have remained friendly with each other ever since. Jonny even attended Angie's movie premiere in 2011 with his then-wife, Michele Hicks. And now, Angelina's visit to Jonny's Brooklyn apartment last week has fueled speculation that the pair are rekindling their romance. She arrived with an expensive bottle of wine and without her children or security detail. Well... we all know that that means!
I haven't followed Jonny Lee Miller's career in great detail or anything, but I was a huuge fan of Elementary and his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes so I'm into it. Jonny has also remained pretty drama-free as far as being a famous celebrity goes and seems like a good guy. In fact, Angie allegedly told B Magazine that he was "the greatest husband" she could have had and that divorcing him was "the dumbest thing" she had ever done. After all the shit she's been dealing with in her divorce from Brad Pitt, I can understand why she'd find comfort in an ex like Jonny. And hey, if it's going to be a Get Back With Your Ex kind of summer, it better be getting back with a quiet, reserved, suave British man living in Brooklyn with his two cats than, you know, Ben Affleck. That's just my vibe though, no judgment on you if Ben is yours.