The Authoritarian Stamp of Jim Crow

The Authoritarian Stamp of Jim Crow (Jamelle Bouie)

Southern conservatives beat back Populism and biracial democracy to build a one-party state and ensure cheap labor, low taxes, white supremacy and a starkly unequal distribution of wealth. It took two decades of disruption — the Great Depression, the Great Migration and the Second World War — to even make change possible, and then another decade of fierce struggle to bring democracy back to the South.

If we look at the actions of the political party and president now in power, if we think of how they would behave with even more control over the levers of the state, then we might be on a path that ends in something that is familiar from our past — authoritarian government with a democratic facade.

Canada is Fake

Canada is Fake (Alex Verman)

The state itself is the best evidence we have for the claim that something can be both socially constructed and also terribly consequential — a border is an utterly unnatural thing, something that is so flimsy and nonsensical that states spend billions of dollars maintaining the illusion of their reality every year.

The eventual formation of Canada as “Canada” came about in the late 1800s for nakedly economic reasons, primarily to benefit the companies and conglomerates that were trading Canadian natural resources with the British, but also to facilitate railroad construction (using slave labor) in which civic leaders had investments.

The lands in question are technically unceded, meaning that they lie fully outside of the jurisdiction of the Canadian state — this land was never officially incorporated into the Canadian state, and the people there never entered into formal treaties with Canadian colonists.

The Billionaire Election

The Billionaire Election (Anand Giridharadas)

The debate is testing abiding American assumptions. A country more ardently capitalist than most is asking itself, as seriously as at any time in the modern era, whether the ultrarich, just because they are ultrarich, endanger democracy. And a country just as committed, contrarily, to its founding ideal of equality is asking whether to resign itself to a gilded revolving door in which you unseat billionaire leaders you hate by electing billionaires you don’t mind.

Do we wish to be a society in which wealth purchases fealty? Are we cool with plutocrats taking advantage of a cash-starved state to run their own private policy machinery, thus cultivating the networks required to take over the state from time to time, and run it in ways that further entrench wealth?

Six Decades After the Civil Rights Act

Nearly Six Decades after the Civil Rights Act, Why do Black Works Still Have to Hustle? (Tressie McMillan Cottom)

The hustle is an idea, a discourse and a survival strategy often glorified as economic opportunity. It is an ode to a type of capitalism that cannot secure the futures of anyone but the wealthiest. But its popularity lies in how hustling can feel like an equal-opportunity strategy. The term originated as a code for illegal activities, but according to Lester Spence, author of Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics, today we have all been turned into hustlers, trying to monetize our “human capital” for economic advancement.

While we do not think of the middle-class pitch and the low-wage hustle as the same thing, they are responding to the same reality. For black Americans, achieving upward mobility, even in thriving cities that compete for tech jobs, private capital and national recognition, is as complicated as it was in 1963.

Sotomayor Accuses Conservative Justices

Sonia Sotomayor Accused the Supreme Court’s Conservatives of Bias Towards the Trump Administration (Mark Joseph Stern)

When some of the most despised and powerless among us ask the Supreme Court to spare their lives, the conservative justices turn a cold shoulder. When the Trump administration demands permission to implement some cruel, nativist, and potentially unlawful immigration restrictions, the conservatives bend over backward to give it everything it wants. There is nothing “fair and balanced” about the court’s double standard that favors the government over everyone else. And, as Sotomayor implies, this flagrant bias creates the disturbing impression that the Trump administration has a majority of the court in its pocket.

Hot Mess Syndrome

Why High Achieving Women Pretend Their Lives are in Shambles (Kelli María Korducki)

The Cool Girl, boyish and feckless while conventionally hot, makes us want to either befriend her or bed her. The Hot Mess, on the other hand, endears us to her neuroses. But the two archetypes are rooted in the same basic belief: that to be visible in the world as a high-achieving, creative woman, you’d best be a little bit of a fuck-up.

On account of her smarts and circumstances, the Hot Mess gets that her success needs to look a little bit like an accident in order not to garner resentment. Her messiness is equal parts internalized misogyny and compensatory measure.

Why Women Choose to be Single

Why Women Choose to be Single (Feminista Jones)

Activism and education around sexual harassment and sexual assault are teaching women that they are not to blame for how others treat them and that no amount of respectability politicking is going to improve outcomes, so you’re better off living your best, authentic life. Further, we are in an important moment of heightened social awareness that is translating into women being less tolerant of emotional bullshit and pulling their relationship standards up from beneath the floorboards where they’ve been for decades.

Reading Colonialism in Parasite

Reading Colonialism in Parasite (Ju-Hyun Park)

Division and war are not Korea’s destiny, and the path to reunification and peace will only become clearer the further we walk it. If we take anything from Parasite, it should be that the liberation of Korea flows through the liberation of all peoples from capitalism and colonialism. For settlers, this especially means struggling with Indigenous peoples for the decolonization of the land beneath our feet.

The First Drag Queen was a Former Slave

The First Drag Queen Was a Former Slave (Channing Gerard Joseph)

Coming of age at a time when an entirely new form of freedom and self-​determination was developing for African Americans, Swann and his house of butlers, coachmen, and cooks—the first Americans to regularly hold cross-dressing balls and the first to fight for the right to do so—arguably laid the foundations of contemporary queer celebration and protest.