Friendmendations friends! Hello! Have I told you lately that I love you? Several of you have reached out to talk over the past few weeks, and I can’t tell you how much it’s meant to me. I am so grateful to have readers that care about and engage with the stuff I’m putting into the world. Thank you so much for reading.
(I do not say any of this lightly! About 80% of the engagement with my last project, Lizzie McGuire Reviewed, came from people telling me that feminism had so poisoned my brain that I couldn’t appreciate Gordo, and 10% continues, to this day, to be people under the impression that the site’s Facebook or Twitter is a direct line to Hilary Duff.)
It’s Monday, so I have recs!
Keep prioritizing our Black trans family
Pride Month is almost over, but don’t forget that it commemorates a riot against the police led by queer people of color.* New York’s Pride March was yesterday, so I donated to the Okra Project to support Black trans people today. This organization brings home-cooked, healthy, culturally specific meals to Black trans people who need them. They also assist in other ways, like mental health and wellness initiatives. I really admire the intention and care that they put into their work. If you have the means, I encourage you to donate to the Okra Project or a similar organization of your choice. This link lets you donate to a bunch of Black trans-focused organizations at one time, selecting which ones you’d like to support. And here’s a list of other ways to help, including petitions to sign and ways to advocate for trans-inclusive healthcare.
*I’m using an umbrella term because our terminology has changed a lot since then, so I don’t want to use specific labels that might invalidate the terms that these people preferred during their own lives.
Two sides of the problem with the NYPD
I try not to be too New York-specific in this newsletter, but this week I read two really well-reported, illuminating longreads about the unchecked power of the NYPD. The first was David Freedlander’s “How Bill De Blasio Lost New York,” an examination of our mayor’s weird, confusing desire to be both pro- and anti-police that has one of the best ledes I’ve read recently. It’s the kind of profile of cowardice that could inspire schadenfreude if it weren’t so infuriating.
The second piece was Ryan Devereaux’s “What Law Did We Break?: How the NYPD Weaponized a Curfew Against Protesters and Residents.” It’s a riveting, horrifying look at how a bullshit curfew led to even more police violence, which in turn led to police turning protesters over to the FBI for questioning about violent agitating.
Together, these two pieces show how many systems prop up this rotten police department. The NYPD’s gotta go.
Small consequences for Nazi bronies
2020 is upending all of our long-standing social norms. White people can’t get married on plantations anymore. Pancakes can’t have a racist stereotype for a mascot. And now the reckoning has come for… the white supremacist section of a brony fanart site. "My Little Pony Fans Are Ready to Admit They Have a Nazi Problem,” Kaitlyn Tiffany’s piece for the Atlantic, looks at a ridiculous microcosm of the internet and shows how lax moderation lets the worst people run wild. It also offers an encouraging takeaway:
That the conversation has managed to penetrate one of the most head-in-the-sand groups on the whole internet speaks to how far the movement has already gone in challenging people where they are—in their imaginary worlds, in their anonymous message threads, and in all of the places where there have long been no rules.
(Because the limp excuse “it was just an edgy joke!” comes up here, I’m also going to plug the excellent Contrapoints video “Decrypting the Alt-Right: How to Recognize a Fascist,” which is such a useful, clear explainer on the purpose of such obfuscation.)
Beyoncé and Africa
Look, I love Beyoncé. According to Spotify, I listen to more Beyoncé than 99% of people IN THE WORLD. I am obviously excited for her new project, Black is King.
However, because it’s a visual accompaniment to her compilation album The Gift, I’d like to recommend the Switched on Pop episode examining the album. Switched on Pop is a podcast that dives deep into pop songs using music theory, cultural history, and other contextual methods, so it’s obviously extremely my jam. In this episode, the hosts talk to Nigerian-American writer Ivie Ani (whose essay “Diversity is in the Details” critiqued the album) and Kenyan musician Blinky Bill about the ways in which The Gift could have been improved.
If you’re interested in pop culture, you’ll probably find a Switched on Pop episode to interest you, whether it’s on “The Unbearable Sameness of Restaurant Playlists” or the history of autotune. I’ve discovered a lot of emerging pop artists through the show, too. It’s really solid, all around.
On the topic of music…
This song is so fucking cool.
Oh my goodness, how I love this dreamy song. I love that its riff sounds like “Heart of Glass,” one of my all-time favorite songs. I love the singer’s British accent. I love the cheeky chorus: “Hasta la vista, baby! (ciao!)” I love the band’s name. 10/10, joyful experience all around.
Okay! That’s it for this week! I leave you with this iconic moment in TV news history.