Welcome to Issue 73.1 of Digestable, your thrice-weekly mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
Today’s news, fermented:
No Gabriel today. They’re getting a PhD (!) so I suppose they can have a free pass—you’re stuck with me ranting about place and space instead.
I started my news morning with this article: Guess How Many People Worked From Home Last Year.
Before you continue reading, just guess—now check your work.
The author was wrong, by a lot; citing new research, they explain that most people in the US, fka “the melting pot,” hang out with other people with similar identities (race, class, age). This means that our ability to accurately judge what is up with other people whose identities notably differ from ours is weak at best and delusional at worst.
The article notes that remote workers are much more likely to be upper-income earners and “highly educated,” whatever that means, as well as concentrated in cities. This isn’t too surprising, but what caught my eye about this analysis is that our extracurricular activities—from churches to the neighborhoods we live in—have gotten increasingly less diverse across class identities over the last half century.
[A note: the author recognizes that readers of the Atlantic, where the article is published, are often of the working from home, moneyed type. As a person with class privilege and a remote job, I want to mention that my assumption (which may be wrong!), is that overwhelmingly, the misunderstanding is by folks with class privilege about people with other class identities. The wealthy are the center of news and media, often, and thus their realities are much more visible across the class divide.]
Most Americans are familiar with the phenomenon of gentrification; fewer, but still many, of redlining. In light of this study that acknowledges how out of touch we are with people of different socioeconomic backgrounds, the term “residential caste system” perhaps is most appropriate.
In It’s Time to Dismantle America’s Residential Caste System, the author articulates:
“The physical lines that divide America into racialized spaces of high and low opportunity are real…[What many] have long ignored is the role that federal and state actors have played for decades in creating and perpetuating those divides, through past and present forms of racial segregation, and through the distribution of resources away from those who most need public goods and toward people and communities with more than enough.”
They go on to discuss how “America’s system of residential caste is ingenious in its ability to hide the truth of how and why we subordinate some and lift up others,” identifying three main tactics used to maintain this caste system.
So, when we take the understanding about how segregated our residential map is alongside an astonishing misunderstanding about the realities of people who hold different class identities, it adds up. Layer in the polarized political climate, and the feeling that Americans really can’t understand each other makes a lot of sense.
Giraffes, at least, just get their conflicts out in the open.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
By now, most of you may have seen or, at the very least, heard of the latest vaccine-related controversy that happened late last week. On the night of the Met Gala, rapper Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to let the children know why she wasn't attending this year's party: because contrary to Gala rules, she is not vaccinated and doesn't plan on getting the shots ("yet").
As you can imagine, her tweet prompted a ton of responses, including setting off one of this year's and the pandemic's biggest meme to date. Basically, in a separate tweet, Nicki claimed that her cousin's friend in Trinidad had to call off his wedding after getting the vaccine and getting "swollen testicles" and becoming impotent. Someone was clearly cunning enough to use the pandemic and the Covid vaccines as cover for stepping out on their fianceé and potentially contracting an STI but that's above my pay grade. Anyway, Nicki very seriously tweeted this as a caution to folks about getting the vaccine and/or backing evidence as to why she herself will hold off on doing so until she's "done her research." And thus, what started out as a night of dunking on Nicki Minaj for her clearly misinformed and somewhat stupid tweets evolved into something larger than all of us, involving no less than Tucker Carlson, the White House, Boris Johnson, and Trinidad's Ministry of Health in a "controversy" that quickly become more exhausting than entertaining.
First, Trinidad's Minister of Health had to announce that upon investigating Nicki's claims about vaccine-induced swollen balls, they found that no such case or complaint had been recorded, calling their efforts to track down the patient a waste of time. The minister's dismissal of Nicki's claim was supported by Dr. Anthony Fauci and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (and his Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty), who were each separately asked about the vaccine and its effects on reproductive health to the extent of what Nicki had tweeted. On the flipside, she had people like Tucker Carlson, Rose McGowan and Candace Owens publicly supporting her, so that's... something? Anyway, you would think that by this point, this stupid scandal would go away already but you would be thinking wrongly because of course the White House had to get involved as well and offered her a phone call with one of the Biden administration's doctors to discuss the vaccine.
Thanks to her efforts at being a public health menace, Nicki was shadowbanned for a bit on Twitter for spreading vaccine misinformation. Nicki's not letting any of this get to her though. Instead of just apologizing for the mess or even stopping to talk about it at all, she instead doxxed a couple of reporters and empowered some of her fans to protest outside the CDC in Atlanta against the vaccine. God this is a lot of messiness. And I honestly doubt that Nicki will ever own up to any of it. She'll probably continue to double down on how very wrong she is and continue causing more harm than doing good.
Anyway, click here if you want the real Nicki Minaj tea. Trigger warning: it discusses sexual assault, rape, and intimidation. This could be a big reason as to why she's rolling ahead with the anti-vaccine stance. In any case, she's kind of an asshole, right?