This week in “Help Me Not Be Such an Ass”: March 30-April 6


Here’s what I turned to for help this week:

Al-Jazeera English’s 25-minute video on the spread of drug-resistant TB in India, because my cool mom works with the lab and doctor featured (the one crazily maligned by the Indian government for proving that totally-drug-resistant TB exists). This whole series (101 East) looks good. (Thanks, Mom)

A few pieces on the shitty respresentation of people of color in American publishing: Saeed Jones’ first-person account “Self-Portrait of the Artist as an Ungrateful Black Writer”; a piece from the Guardian about spending a year reading only authors of color. (Thanks, Shelley)

Kindred” by Octavia Butler. Up til 2 am finishing it last night–that kind of good.
Mother Jones on Chris Rock’s selfies-when-pulled-over.
How to Write a Contrarian Thinkpiece” from The Pessimist. You know, as in, “Why Firefighters are Worse Than Hitler” etc. Brought up in another thing to read: my friend Dina’s reflections on having written her own clickbaity post title. Important: subscribe to Dina’s blog.
Two poems:
Sapphire’s “Wild Thing” (that link is the Google Books version of the book I actually read it in, and would recommend if you need some poetry to kick your ass: “The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry.”
Phillip Lopate’s “Once a Long Time Ago“˚ (also Google books version of recommended book, though different book)
 “Zen and the Art of Social Movement Maintenance”: Angela Davis rhetorically asks Jon Kabat-Zinn, “In a racially unjust world, what good is mindfulness?” and a delightful article ensues.
Leslie Iwai’s art, especially Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum!
Mary Flanagan’s work “Career Moves” : a board game. Go look, but here’s a taste: The game itself represents several aspects of women and work under a variety of conditions, from menial jobs to corporate spaces. Many plastic items are embedded into the game board, representing accoutrements of “success.” Players typically take turns moving their game pieces around the board using the die. Upon landing on a space occupied with an object, players use tongs to retrieve the object. If the player falters or touches the side of the board with the tongs, he or she hears sampled voice sources taken from the career coaching and self-help industry directed at women, groups feeding off of social change by offering patronizing and constrictive advice to women caught in flux. The sampled dialogue presents a tangled web of contradictory statements about women, work, and agency. Also, Giant Joystick.
 That’s it for this week. If you have suggestions for not being such an Ass, I’ll always take them!

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