In the same week that we witnessed the trial of the police officer who killed George Floyd, and in the same week that yet another Black man, Daunte Wright, was killed by a white police officer, the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance HR 40 , the bill that would establish a commission to consi
In the same week that we witnessed the trial of the police officer who killed George Floyd, and in the same week that yet another Black man, Daunte Wright, was killed by a white police officer, the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance HR 40, the bill that would establish a commission to consider reparations to Black Americans for slavery. By no means, of course, am I hopeful. After all, HR 40 was first introduced more than 30 years ago, after the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted reparations for the internment of Japanese Americans. Nevertheless, the conversation about reparations is growing. This week’s lead article, ”Return the National Parks to the Tribes,” by Dave Treuer, argues that the country’s 423 national parks, comprising 85 million acres, should be returned to their original stewards. If you have 30 minutes sometime this week, I urge you to read it.
Also in this week’s issue, Shayla Lawz explores the power of writing, Dr. Miin Chan criticizes the fermented food industry, and Joshua David Stern celebrates the classic French omelet. As always, thank you very much for being a loyal reader of this newsletter, and I hope you have a great week.
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David Treuer: “More than a century ago, John Muir described the entire American continent as a wild garden ‘favored above all the other wild parks and gardens of the globe.’ But in truth, the North American continent has not been a wilderness for at least 15,000 years: Many of the landscapes that became national parks had been shaped by Native peoples for millennia.
“We live in a time of historical reconsideration, as more and more people recognize that the sins of the past still haunt the present. For Native Americans, there can be no better remedy for the theft of land than land. And for us, no lands are as spiritually significant as the national parks. They should be returned to us. Indians should tend — and protect and preserve — these favored gardens again.
“To be entrusted with the stewardship of America’s most precious landscapes would be a deeply meaningful form of restitution. Alongside the feelings of awe that Americans experience while contemplating the god-rock of Yosemite and other places like it, we could take inspiration in having done right by one another.” (30 min)
+ Mr. Treuer is the author of The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award.
A writer, poet, and interdisciplinary artist, Shayla Lawz, who is Black and queer, begins this piece, “I began writing in order to imagine. If I put something down on the page, suddenly, it existed. Suddenly, I existed.” But the murders of Sandra Bland and Eric Garner, along with a racist incident with a white professor in graduate school, challenged Ms. Lawz’s belief in her imagination. In this contemplative essay on grief, the body, and ways of seeing, Ms. Lawz acknowledges her pain and eventually returns to her vision — that writing, for her, is a willful act of being, of living. (10 min)
The Fermented Foods Industry Is Built on Global Ingredients. So Why Are Its Most Visible Faces White?
Twenty years ago, Dr. Miin Chan tasted kombucha for the first time in a Whole Foods in San Francisco. Her white friends sneered and called the beverage “gross.” That’s not true anymore, of course. Now the fermented foods of her childhood have been glorified, fetishized, and appropriated for profit. In this well-written piece, Dr. Miin explores the history of kimchi, miso, tempe, tibicos, and other ferments, criticizing the growing industry ($690 billion by 2023) and its attraction to whiteness. (19 min)
+ My new fave show, Waffles + Mochi, devoted one of its episodes to fermented foods. Please watch.
Back in college, my roommate Dave introduced me to chef Jacques Pépin, delighting me with his outlandish French accent, reminding me of the chef’s rapport with Julia Child, and ensuring I watch, over and over again, Mr. Pépin’s omelet masterclass. Here’s Joshua David Stein and his appreciation of that 1995 cooking demonstration. In this coming-of-age story, Mr. Stein writes, “There are no tricks to the omelet. No shortcuts or hacks. Plainspoken yet brilliant, humble yet exalted, Pépin is the omelet he makes.” (9 min)
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