This week, we’re exploring imperatives and the future and storytelling. From narratives of rural poverty to how to cling to your integrity in the coming years to a look at how people tell the stories of the civil rights era, we cut to the heart of what it means to be human, and to pass on legacies. Storytelling is a critical component of survival and resistance, for if we resist and survive, we need to be able to narrate the experience of how we did it.
‘We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump‘ (Sarah Kendzior for The Correspondent)
While we talk about the rise of authoritarianism, we must also talk about what it is to live through authoritarianism, to survive, to blaze a path in a world that wishes to choke the fight from us.
It is possible that I will end up living like the dissidents who I defended from foreign dictatorships for so long. I will talk in coded terms, as I have started to do already. Did you think it was a coincidence that I published an article about Elijah Lovejoy, a journalist who sought freedom for all and was killed by St. Louis mobs, right before the election? I will try to continue to publish in foreign outlets. I will rearrange my life so I can fight this fight, because I am fighting for my country, and I never give up on my country or on my countrymen.
‘After‘ (Erica Joy)
The tech industry has the power to do tremendous good in the coming years, but only if it is willing to commit to doing the work. That means radical steps. Scary steps. Necessary steps.
It is to those non-believers I speak right now, and to everyone else, especially those of us in the tech industry. Actually to everyone in the tech industry: this is your wake up call. 20% of San Mateo county voted for Trump. 20% of Santa Clara county voted for Trump. 1 out of 5 people in Silicon Valley voted for Trump. 1 out of 5 people in Silicon Valley either share his values or find them acceptable. 1 out of 10 in San Francisco county feel the same. These are the folks in your tech companies we’ve been telling you about. The ones who say racist things, who think sexism is ok, who quietly (or sometimes not so quietly) support bigotry. And these folks have now received a mandate, via the vote of the American people, that this is acceptable.
‘Queer Writers in the Age of Trump‘ (Gabrielle Bellot for The Atlantic)
The future of American thought lies in the hands of a dangerous man and the pens of those who oppose him. The United States has historically been much friendlier to the queer community than other regions of the world. Is this about to shift, and can the imperative of art overcome the audacity of hatred?
I came to America from the Commonwealth of Dominica. For me, like many other queer writers in the U.S., particularly those who’ve come from less safe places, America represented a kind of hope. Here was a country I’d decided to stay, as a dual citizen, after coming out. My former home in the Caribbean wasn’t a safe place to be openly queer in, and unlike the U.S., it lacked laws protecting LGBT persons from discrimination or violence. When I immigrated, I felt like a sea-traveler who had escaped from a storm, waves high as Hokusai’s, and who was now in a calmer place, free to fill my eyes with stars.
‘Urban and Rural America Are Connected by Economic Refugees Like Me‘ (Erin Malone for The Nation)
Much has been made in recent days of the urban/rural divide, much of it rooted in a lack of understanding about rural issues, an idealisation of rural communities, contempt for rural America, or a mixture of all three. It’s time to get real when talking about the rural experience.
I don’t think people in cities understand how bleak rural poverty can be. One difference between the urban poverty I see in my gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood and what I experienced back home is that kids regularly see people who are richer than them. It might invoke in them anger or insecurity, but they can see people living the lives they dream of. In rural America, it can be hard to imagine anything different than what you grow up with. The lack of hope hangs like a cloud over the town. ‘I just need to get away from here’ is a refrain I grew up with and still regularly see on my news feeds. I always knew I’d need to leave home to build a life for myself. I didn’t question it.
‘When There Is No Option to Forget: How My Family Shares Our Stories of Survival‘ (Shani Gilchrist for Catapult)
The telling of stories and how we narrate them are bound together to shape the way we think about our experiences and those of our elders. Growing up at the knees of a generation of civil rights activists means hearing stories of darkness and stories of triumph, in an unforgettable cadence.
The people sharing their stories before the fireplace in my parents’ living room hadn’t only survived that era of persecution—they’d created their own successes, carved some joy and fun out of their lives, in spite of it. Of course, not all the memories—the beatings, the lynchings, the massacres—could be soothed with a salve of defiant humor. But their raucous and personal remembrance of a harrowing time seems specific to a certain generation of Black Americans, and for this reason, I’ve always had an inherent understanding of it as special.
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Photo: Christine/Creative Commons