As August comes to a close, teachers are building relationships with their students from a distance, wildfires are ravaging California, the pandemic is claiming 1,000 lives a day, the police have shot another Black man in the back, and the officers who killed Breonna Taylor still do not face crimina
As August comes to a close, teachers are building relationships with their students from a distance, wildfires are ravaging California, the pandemic is claiming 1,000 lives a day, the police have shot another Black man in the back, and the officers who killed Breonna Taylor still do not face criminal charges.
This week’s lead article, “A Beautiful Life,” illuminates the life of Ms. Taylor, told from the perspective of her mother, Tamika Palmer, in a series of conversations with Ta-Nehisi Coates. You don’t need to be a mom to feel the enormity of the loss.
If that’s too much for you to bear, the rest of today’s issue is also outstanding, with articles on depression in the Black community, the rise of fat shaming during the pandemic, and the perils of white saviorism when mediated by YouTube. Hope you find an article or two to read, thank you again, let me know what you think, and have a great week!
Tamika Palmer: “I have so many stories. I think about how I had to tell Breonna how to make chili a hundred times, and she would still call me when she would go to the store. She worked third shift. So she gets off of work at 7 in the morning, and of course I’m at work by then, because I start work at 4, 4:30 in the morning, you know? And so Breonna would be in the grocery store at 7 in the morning, calling my phone, and it would be funny because this is what my coworkers will remember the most about her—they always talked about Breonna in the grocery store, calling me like, Mama, what do I need to buy for chili? Blah, blah, blah. And I would say Breonna, can you write this down, because I don’t understand why I got to tell you this all the time. And she would say, I don’t need to write it down, I can just call my mama. My coworkers would just laugh. But she’d just say, I need to talk to my mama. And I’m like, Girrrll.” (29 min)
In her Black, Southern family, author Kim McLarin learned that mental illness was reserved for white people. She writes, “White people had nervous breakdowns, black folks just got tired of shit. White people had anxiety, black folks had nerves. Black folks got the blues sometimes, but only white people got clinically depressed. White people listened to Prozac. Black folks listened to their mother, their pastor, and God.” In this outstanding, expansive essay, Ms. McLarin explores her life with depression and her relationship with Eshu, the trickster god of the Yoruba people. (29 min)
+ TW: Suicidal ideations and suicide notes.
When the pandemic hit in March, many of us hoped that shelter-in-place would finally give us a chance to get in shape. Five months in, we’re eating cookies, wearing sweatpants, and skipping the scale. Rather than embracing our bodies and a few extra pounds, Erika Thorkelson has found the opposite is true, especially among poor and working-class women, shamed into believing that they have a moral duty to lose weight or die from the coronavirus. (14 min)
+ Click here for nine more great articles on dieting, body positivity, and fat shaming.
If you’re a straight white Christian couple on YouTube, you gain followers as your family grows, and you get extra points if you adopt a child from overseas and then homeschool them. That recipe was working for Myka and James Stauffer, who amassed more than 1 million followers after recording the “Gotcha Day” of their son Huxley from China. But when Huxley grew combative and was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder level three, the Stauffers changed course, giving Huxley up, no longer “so excited to open our hearts and see what the Good Lord has in store for us.” (26 min)
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