Welcome to Issue 8.3 of Digestable, your daily mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
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Today’s news, fermented:
Remember the beginning of the T**** presidency, when everyone would tear up at the thought of Obama?
I do too, but like so many, the 2016 election was when I really started to deeply analyze problematic systems and leaders. This revealed some obvious concerning things that occurred during Obama’s presidency (deporting a ton of people and derailing progress in international climate policy, to name a few). Granted, I know there are many intersecting factors here—America + recession + long history of systemic racism + other long history of preventing global progress on climate. I have a feeling you know that too; this issue is not about what Obama didn’t get right.
Rather, I want to talk about what opportunities still exist to, in following with yesterday’s discussion of leadership, make good choices that we as as people can look back on and think, wow, that was definitely the right thing to do.
And again, don’t get me wrong. Obama’s presidency was historic, necessary, better than the other options presented along the way. But also, looking back now, I wish we had done more to protect people and the planet and prevent the alt-right coup of our supposedly democratic nation. So it goes.
First up on ‘what we can do right next time’ is a conversation with Bernie Sanders. It’s really easy to read, kind of like sitting down with a grandparent who says, “you know, young one, heahs what yah gahtta do,” and you say, “yes, that sounds right, thank you Bernie.” He talks about solidarity, and the need for true international solidarity. But to get there, he says:
“If there is any silver lining in the midst of this horrific moment, it is that maybe, just maybe, we will reevaluate our national priorities and our vision for where we as a nation and as a world want to go into the future.”
Seems like a good place to start.
Next up is Ruth Wilson Gilmore talking with Amy Goodman (who played a prominent role in my dream last night! Thanks for visiting, Amy!) about prison abolition. Just a few months ago, prison abolition was something only the more radical of radical people discussed, and was written off as too radical for more mainstream conversations about justice. But in the era of a virus that spreads even faster inside of concrete human cages than outside, all of a sudden this conversation has become much more imaginable to a much larger group of people.
Ruth Wilson Gilmore lays it so clearly you kind of wonder why this has been such a touchy subject in the past (jk, it’s because this nation is built on dehumanizing black and brown people). She says,
“Abolition seeks to undo the way of thinking and doing things that sees prison and punishment as solutions for all kinds of social, economic, political, behavioral and interpersonal problems. Abolition, though, is not simply decarceration, put everybody out on the street. It is reorganizing how we live our lives together in the world. And this is something that people are doing in a variety of ways throughout the United States and around the planet already. It is not a pie-in-the-sky dream.”
So now we’ve got ourselves a nation in which we are re-evaluating our priorities and reorganizing our collective lives all over the world.
While we’re on that idea of revising the social order, it seems necessary to bring up Ida B. Wells, who was just awarded a posthumous Pulitzer for her tremendously brave reporting on lynching. She used data to debunk stereotypes and tell truths about the use of violence as a political tool against Black Americans.
I think, when the Pulitzer people were thinking about how to award these prizes, they thought, hm, this is something we look back on and recognize the unquestionable value of, but failed to do so at the time. In 1894, The NY Times called Wells a “slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress.” Yikes.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, who wrote 1619 (also published in the NY Times), a deep dive into reframing how Americans consider the legacy of slavery, and the vital role of Black people in this country’s democracy, also won a Pulitzer. Seems like a great example of a good thing we can do now, and look back without reservations.
On a completely different scale of consequence, I also imagine I will look back on my decision to follow this Twitter account, called UnsolicitedDikDiks, with nothing but gratitude for my past self. (What is a Dik-Dik? It’s what would happen if a deer was actually a bunny.)
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
A few weeks ago, I saw a funny and highly relatable Tweet that I can’t find anymore. But it basically said: “I am spending my prime childbearing years tweeting” and it has become my go to deflective answer whenever my mom asks me when I am getting married :-)
Luckily, there have been some famous folks over the past week who have welcomed their children into the world – and I am here, of course, to give you the roundup. First, CNN anchor and journalist Anderson Cooper welcomed his son Wyatt Morgan Cooper last week. The baby was conceived through and carried by a surrogate, and Anderson made the announcement in an emotional Instagram post that had me shedding thug tears (as my BFF Zoe would call them) as I cooked dinner for the night.
Next, Entrepreneur Elon Musk and his partner Grimes also welcomed their first child together, a baby boy named… X Æ A-12. I’m not joking. I – along with Elon and Grimes – am being completely serious. I don’t know how to pronounce this random smattering of letters and numbers. It’s probably Gary, right?
And if you want to take a look at all the famous kids who have been born in 2020 so far, here’s a full list. Or if you don’t particularly care and are still trying to figure out how to pronounce X Æ A-12, here’s a Twitter thread for that instead. Happy Wednesday!