A list of news items that may interest you

Muslims

“I lived like a machine for a month,” said Mohammad, who had sat through so many memorials, greeting friends and family as they came through his door, putting off tears while the rest of the world paid their respects and talked about the tragedy of his life. Yousef described his father as “shocked, numb and functional.”

The Bad Muslim is the exhausted Muslim. A Muslim whose morale has been drained by perpetual anxiety, hostility and social marginalization for being seen as a criminal for acts of violence he or she has never committed. The Bad Muslim is the Muslim who makes the mistake of thinking he or she is as human as the next person and should be given a modicum of respect as anyone else would receive, such as the random white American who is never harangued to apologize for what KKK did or modern day Neo Nazis do.

Instead, Jones mentioned several other causes: “Indonesia is a country that doesn’t have a repressive government, is not under occupation, it’s politically stable, so there’s no social unrest or conflict, and the Muslims aren’t a persecuted minority. So when you put all of those factors together, it’s not all that surprising that it’s actually only a tiny minority of even the activist population that’s leaving for Syria.”

 

Literature

The track begins with an encroaching, distorted swell of noise that suddenly breaks into a tight and crisp percussion section offset by The Weeknd’s airy and gentle vocals. Light piano phrases and atmospheric background synths add to the introductory mood, preparing the listener for the eventual switch into something more grand and worthy of a Daft Punk feature. But it never comes.

Like a lot of young writers, when I started out, I had a dim conception of my material. I wrote about people and places that were vastly separated from those I knew. Then, too, if I tried to write about my own self, the results were far from illuminating, for the simple reason that I didn’t understand myself too well. As soon as I began writing The Virgin Suicides, however, I suddenly realized that I knew a lot, not about my own psychological dimensions so much but about the town where I grew up. I knew everything about the people who lived on our old street.

Race

Food is the smell of leftover massaman curry on your fingertips that your white coworker notices and says, “Ewww, what did you eat?”

Food is the struggle to find an ethnic grocery store in town so you settle for the ethnic aisle at Walmart instead, knowing damn well they ain’t gonna have your chicharones, chingkiang vinegar or frozen chicken patties.

Food is a Sushi restaurant owned by Korean-American immigrants selling Japanese-American sushi for white-American customers with bland-American taste buds.

“WHOOOOOOO’S READY for sake bombs and California rolls?!”

We all want to believe in progress, in history that marches forward in a neat line, in transcended differences and growing acceptance, in how good the good white people have become. So we expect racism to appear, cartoonishly evil like a Disney villain. As if a racist cop is one who wakes in the morning, twirling his mustache and rubbing his hands together as he plots how to destroy black lives.

I don’t think Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo set out to kill Black men. I’m sure the cops who arrested my father meant well. But what good are your good intentions if they kill us?

Class

I thought of Intel’s Andy Grove, a chemical engineer who, at age 32, suddenly found himself in charge of a chip-fabrication plant full of people he was supposed to manage. A more complacent person might have lunged for the comfort of his existing skill set. But Grove opened a school notebook and posed himself the question What is a manager?

He pasted in news clippings (Time’s description of a movie director’s role, for instance), annotated these with more questions (“My job description?”), and began to bear down on his fuzzy new understandings by sketching them as graphs. It’s the record of a man repeatedly hurling himself against an unfamiliar challenge. In the end, the notebook was full.

Some critics might argue that sport is not intellectual enough to be enshrined as a field of academic study. But this objection presumes a much too restricted view of intellect, a proper account of which must also clearly make room for performative activities such as art, theatre and dance. Thanks to recent scientific and academic research, we have a much better appreciation of the intelligence required for athletic excellence.

Feminism

I’m scared people won’t call what happened to me rape because for a long time, no one did. But as I gear up for my paperback tour, and as I brace myself for the women who ask me, in nervous, brave tones, what I meant by my dedication, What do I know?, I’ve come to a simple, powerful revelation: everyone is calling it rape now. There’s no reason to cover my head. There’s no reason I shouldn’t say what I know.

Mental Health

One of the most striking paradoxes of the disease is that despite its devastating prevalence — depression is the most common form of disability in the world today — its symptoms are so imperceptible from the outside that it is extremely difficult to tell who is suffering and who is not. And yet what goes on inside is acute and unmistakable.

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2 thoughts on “A list of news items that may interest you

  1. Ahhh, so much good stuff to read here. “No Apology” sounds really good, and the idea behind “ISIS in the World’s Largest Muslim Country” makes sense. Like… who knew that having a stable country prevents terrorism?! /sarcasm

    I’ve read the piece on food and racism before and it’s AMAZING, isn’t it? I’ve noticed that myself with food trucks… they were considered gross and unhygienic until white people “discovered” them and now it’s the hipster thing to do, eating at one of them. :/

    Also I’m interested in that piece about what depression is really like… I love this sentence from it: “Nonetheless, for over seventy-five years the word has slithered innocuously through the language like a slug, leaving little trace of its intrinsic malevolence and preventing, by its very insipidity, a general awareness of the horrible intensity of the disease when out of control.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No Apology has definitely been monumental in shaping my life philosophy re my Muslimness and its political connotations. So much.
      And yes, the stable country thing was kind of embarassing, wanting to share such an obvious fact because of how much it’s been overlooked. Gah.
      The food and racism piece is BLOODY BRILLIANT. It’s my favourite post by the guy because of how true it is, and how easy it is to see it.
      I love, love, love the article on depression because she called depression a disease instead of a mental illness and did the one thing a lot of people in the mental health ish community have been calling for: treating mental illnesses as illnesses on equal level of importance to physical illnesses. It was refreshing, reading her article.

      And definitely, yes, the way the word has changed in meaning over the years – and the way such a word can be malevolent and insidious but also contains so, so much more and can never really truly label what happens to those who suffer from it – that’s so interesting and eye-opening.

      Like

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