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Required Reading


“It’s also partly the difference in mentality between the west and Russia, they never care about human life,” he continues, and quotes – apologising for his slightly rocky translation of what turns out to be a very succinct point – a sentiment attributed to the wartime Red Army general Georgy Zhukov. “He said, you take care of the technical side, and more soldiers will be born by the women.”

He thinks the same attitude is being displayed now. “They are sending more and more and more soldiers,” he says, “but they are absolutely not motivated. The Russian troops, they don’t know what to do. I have seen lots of videos of those taken prisoner, everybody behaves with them absolutely normally and allows them to call their mums and fathers in Russia and describe the situation, and mostly these are young people and they are not motivated. And we are very motivated. I even don’t have fear. I’ve expected this for 30 years.”

In a letter to U.S. Ambassador Tom Nides, Yad Vashem, together with the country’s chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau and Sheba Medical Center Director Yitshak Kreiss, asked that the United States not sanction Abramovich, a major donor to the memorial and other Jewish causes. They said that sanctioning him would cause harm to Jewish institutions that rely on him for donations, said Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan. He said Abramovich was the museum’s second-largest private donor, after the late Sheldon Adelson and his widow, Miriam.

By all accounts, everyone knew Ray Johnson, but no one knew him fully, and no one knew quite the same man. Many of these people, some of them quite famous, pop up once you go down the Johnsonian rabbit hole, a journey that ought to include watching “How to Draw a Bunny,” a 2002 documentary by the filmmakers Andrew Moore and John Walter, titled for a blobby little cartoon Johnson used as his tag. It was Johnson who took Andy Warhol to a haircutting party at Billy Name’s, whose silvery apartment became the basis for the decorative scheme of The Factory.

One particularly irksome example of this recently came from the influencer activist and author Adam Eli, who has over 100,000 Instagram followers. In a tweet, which was copied to Instagram, Eli wrote in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “In times of war, marginalized people are always hit first. This includes queer people, especially trans people. Below is a list of organizations that are helping queer people in the Ukraine.” This is incoherent, of course. The Russian invasion has launched an indiscriminate bombing campaign which endangers all Ukrainians, regardless of identity. But I nevertheless saw this claim shared across Instagram stories countless times.

It’s understandable why. The proliferation of an ill-defined and silly version of intersectionality discourse online has made it such that every event and circumstance is instantly framed in terms of its alleged effects on marginalized groups. This isn’t a bad instinct, but systems of oppression are complex, there is not a one-size-fits-all model for how different communities are affected by those in power. The rapid, reactive nature of online discourse is antithetical to nuanced understanding. It compels the social justice-minded among us to frame all events and all circumstances through the idea that, within a complex chain of oppression, we can universally expect outcomes to be worst felt by the most socially marginalized groups. This simply does not apply to Ukraine. Ukraine has military conscription, with reservists, men, and boys obligated to stay and fight against invading forces. While Ukrainian women have been granted the right to fight in combat since 2016, and conscription has been expanded to women, the reality is still that the majority of soldiers are men and boys. The country is reported to have banned all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 60 from fleeing the country. What has any of this to do with queerness?

One year after the biggest protest movement in American history demanded police reform, we now find ourselves in the ludicrous position of being told by all of the shallowest professional political savants that defunding the police is a toxic position that is poison to Democrats. From Axios to Thomas Friedman, almost the entire centrist pundit class has coalesced around the analysis that because crime rates rose during the pandemic year, defunding the police is a bad idea, electorally speaking. Do they attempt to engage with the fact that crime rates rose in cities across the nation that have not actually defunded the police? No. Do they attempt to engage with the question of whether cities’ enormous spending on police relative to other civic priorities is justified by the results? No. Those are policy choices with profound consequences on human lives, and would probably require a lot of research, and are therefore not something that Tom Friedman or Axios would ever bother with. The pundit all-stars are interested only in the question of whether the misleading, kindergarten-level connection between the mere words ​“defund the police” and the fearmongering crime propaganda being featured constantly on Fox News will translate into a political liability for Democrats. By focusing exclusively on this frame, they facilitate it becoming a reality. 

Latino/a/x studies has been a mainstay in US universities for several decades. With the inauguration of Transgender Studies Quarterlyin 2014, and the establishment of one of the first transgender studies programs at the University of Arizona, trans studies has seen a boom in scholarship, academic programming, and intellectual exchange. Bringing Latinx and trans studies into epistemological proximity, however, highlights disciplinary and conceptual limitations specific to each field. While on the one hand, queer and trans studies has been overwhelmingly white in terms of its analytic purview, its objects of analysis, and the actual researchers doing the work, Latinx studies, on the other hand, has had trouble with early masculinist leanings and is today circumscribed by cisheteronormativity, exemplified by debates over the use of gender-inclusive language and whether Latinx/e should be widely used. Thinking trans and Latinx together provides pathways for more rigorous and complex approaches that do not cleave apart race, sexuality, nationality, and gender, and trans of color theorists are making fierce strides at articulating this conjuncture.

More than a century before 105 white “adventurers” from the Virginia Company of London landed on a Virginia beachhead on May 14, 1607 (Don’t ask me how they knew they were going to Virginia; I think they had a beta version of Google Maps), Africans had already ventured to America, befriended natives and built plantations. In the words of the immortal historian Ray J: “We hit it first.”

Much of what we know about Garrido comes from his probanza de merito, or “proof of merit,” which states that while he was from West Africa born and raised, exploring is where he spent most of his days. Born around 1487, Garrido moved to Portugal before eventually landing in Spain, converting to Christianity and changing his name to what translates as “Johnny Handsome” (because, of course). Some researchers speculate that he was a formerly enslaved Congolese man someone eventually freed. In contrast, historian Ricardo Alegría believes Garrido was the son of an African king who sent his son to Portugal as an emissary. In any case, in 1503, at 15 years old, Garrido joined explorer Ponce de Leon’s expedition to New World, landing on Hispaniola’s island. From there, Garrido rode around with Ponce de Leon as the Spanish explorer enslaved and killed Taino around the Caribbean, searching for the Fountain of Wealth (that Fountain of Youth thing was a myth created years after Ponce died; we’ll get to that part.) 

Dark stores, being more sidewalk deadening than even the branch banks that close early in the evening, pose a particular threat to some of the only stores that have, until now, remained largely unscathed by the previous retail cycles: groceries and bodegas, said Gale Brewer, the Upper West Side’s longtime and once-again councilmember. (Brewer was on the council from 2002 to 2013, then did a seven-year stint as Manhattan borough president, then got reelected to her old seat last fall.) “I don’t know if what they’re doing is legal, but I do know I want my grocery stores, bodegas, and delis to survive,” she said. Dark stores raise a lot of other issues, too, she added, from zoning — warehouses are supposed to be located in manufacturing districts, not on Broadway at 102nd — to the storage of e-bike batteries, which are essential to 15-minute deliveries but have a tendency to start fires.

The Wyoming Senate voted 16 to 14 to eliminate the University of Wyoming Gender Studies program with a budget amendment.

  • The UK is finally considering how to deal with its history of attracting and protecting autocrats and oligarchs. The Washington Post‘s Hannah Fearn writes:

If I left my office late at night, I would walk past rows of white stucco mansions shrouded in darkness. Cavernous rooms in some of the most beautiful streets in London existing only to pad the portfolios of oligarchs and sheikhs.

It shouldn’t have taken a war to force the British government to act on what had become an international money racket. The way Russians have used the city has even earned it a nickname: “the laundromat.”

Not every empty home is hiding dirty money, of course, but the result is the same: Anonymous wealth from overseas pushing up property prices for all, leaving housing inaccessible to the majority. The effect is that the commuter belt for the capital now extends as far as the south coast of England and north to Birmingham, England’s second-largest city. Some workers must commute two hours each way to afford to buy their own homes.

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.



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