Good morning, gentle readers! Recommended reading was displaced by the Game of Thrones finale (be sure to read Dominick Evans’ post about it, and his prior dive into incest on the show), but it’s back now! As summer winds down in the Northern Hemisphere, it looks like we have quite a week ahead of us, so this is a good time to settle down with some longreads and delve deep into the heart of people, and places, and issues, that matter.
‘I Want to Persuade You to Care About Other People‘ (Danielle Tcholakian for Longreads)
In the wake of the 2016 election, many blamed journalists for Trump’s rise to power. But the conversation about communication, and how to get people to care about shared social issues, is more complicated than that.
I reeled because I love journalism. I love it in a way that, especially for the first few years I did it, I’ve never loved any person. Doing it has made me happier than I’d previously thought was possible. It was the glass slipper to my Cinderella, a calling I’d fallen into relatively late in life, at 26, but which I felt so acutely lucky to do. The idea that it was broken horrified me. I was intent on figuring out how to do it effectively, how to achieve that fundamental goal of communication.
‘Talking to My Daughter About Charlottesville‘ (Taylor Harris for Catapult)
The complicated dance of deciding when, and how, to talk to children about difficult things is heightened when those things have to do with suffocating hatred that’s determined to kill you. So how DO you talk to your Black child about racist violence?
You will find me naïve, but will you hear me, as a mother, when I tell you that I don’t want to be the one to drop Du Bois’s veil down over her face? Because when you discover racism, there is no dipping your toes in the water, no testing the temperature out. There is no great scaffolding, no good metric or measure for how to best encounter this strange American birthright of flesh-based hatred. There is no Green Book of the Black Soul.
‘The Two Americans‘ (Sabrina Tavernise for the New York Times)
This is a rich, complicated multimedia feature on mixing religions, clashing cultures, and inexplicable acts of hate driven by emotions people don’t fully understand.
Today, Fort Smith is a mix of the South and the West, a peanut butter cup of libertarian and Southern Baptist sensibilities. The Old South still haunts the place: A monument to the first white child born in Fort Smith, erected in 1936, still stands, barely noticed, in a small park behind a beverage distributorship. Southside High’s Dixie fight song was not retired until 2015, and its Johnny Rebel mascot a year later — and not without a fight.
‘The Great Pot Monopoly Mystery‘ (Amanda Chicago Lewis for GQ)
The story behind this piece is nearly as fascinating as the piece itself, highlighting how a single offhand comment or clue can bloom into a larger investigative question: Who stands to profit from the flowering of legal cannabis in the US?
Pot is an industry worth over $40 billion, which makes it the second-most-valuable crop in the U.S. after corn. And even though weed is still federally forbidden, it sounded like whoever was behind BioTech Institute had spent the past several years surreptitiously maneuvering to grab every marijuana farmer, vendor, and scientist in the country by the balls, so that once the drug became legal, all they’d have to do to collect payment is squeeze.
‘Yearning for the end of the world‘ (Dina Nayeri for The Guardian)
There’s a deep social divide between from from fundamentalist backgrounds and those who aren’t, and this powerful read bridges that divide, providing insight into what it’s like to grow up in a community that’s praying for the apocalypse.
The first time I heard about the Rapture, it sounded near and exciting. In Iran, many young people (Christians included) watched smuggled foreign films. That was probably how I first saw a movie called A Thief in the Night, a 1970s cult classic about three women, college friends, each of whom represents one of the paths set out in Revelation. One is saved and raptured; another refuses to believe and takes the mark of the antichrist, dooming her soul; and the third believes too late and must suffer through the tribulation, which ends when she is guillotined with her eyes prised open, facing the sky and the blade.
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