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What the world needs now…

Is Serious Media Literacy Skills

And yes, love, etc. And rage. Bread and roses. JUSTICE.

All the things!

I’m skipping a comics class because our apartment building is running on one laundry machine and I just don’t think I can hang out every day after work this week waiting until I get that magic spot. (yeah, world’s smallest violin, I hear it too).

There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world, eh? Some truly incredible resistance led by indigenous people and people of colour in North America (yep, let’s problematize NA as a place naming, another time). Look up #IstandwithStandingRock and #BlackLivesMatter and #webelieveyou to get a taste of what I’m talking about.

On my mind, at the moment, though, is our collective need to cut down on spreading crap media (lies, lies, lies) around like peanut butter on warm toast (or nutella, if you prefer).

If we don’t develop critical media literacy, we’re fucked. I know, it’s crass. But it’s true. Just, critical thinking in general. I’ve taken for granted that my folks raised me ask questions and cultivate thoughtful, hopeful doubt. I also got to sit around in classrooms in high school and university and have a think about “how we know what we know, blah blah blah.” Something increasingly rare, it seems, in neoliberal approaches to post-secondary education of late. So, privilege and timing / timing and privilege. But, developing critical thinking skills and media and digital literacy does not require access to the university. I’ll stop here and research this more for another time.

Buzzfeed nails it, discussing Myanmar‘s astoundingly fast conversion to internet access, when less than 1% of residents had internet access two years ago. In the span of a hot minute, the country has moved from near-total state control of the media and telecommunications to a huge percentage of the population getting online. As the article notes, this leap in technological access and lack of media/digital literacy is feeding anti-Muslim rhetoric and misinformation at a terrible rate. You may think it’s just because it’s Myanmar (which would be pretty idiotic). But this is partly what happened with Trump, in the land of so-called free press (have you been paying attention to Trump’s relationship with the media? Ugh. Danger ahead).

And this from the New Yorker’s Adrian Chen on Russia’s concerted misinformation campaigns on behalf of the Kremlin.

Yeah, I should take it easy with citing the New Yorker all the time. Sorry. The New Yorker was my best friend (not an exaggeration), regularly left in the hospital lobby by one of the local doctors with a subscription, where my mum worked reception nights and weekends. A definite step up from Readers Digest. So, I get a little wrapped up in the NY (my security blanket, really). I’ll take it easy.

Some satire brightening my life for moments on the daily: “TODAY’S DEBATE: Should men THEMSELVES be involved in decisions about their reproductive health? Or would that be seen as pandering?”

Have you seen the new Gilmore Girls? Have you noticed how fatphobic it is? Episode three (Summer) is particularly cruel and lazy in this regard. At first I thought it was just the new edition then I went back and watched some old stuff and yep, it’s a constant thread throughout. WTF. GG offends on multiple levels, but this struck me in particular last Saturday. And still I watched it.

A book I’m nearly done reading is Kate Bollick’s Spinster. The review cites one of my favourite lines from the book:

she recalls eating a Big Mac late one drunken night on the sidewalk on her walk home. “I chomped and strolled as slowly as I could, prolonging the delectable realization that waiting for me at home was nothing but an empty bed into which I’d crawl naked and drunk and stinking of fast food, disgusting nobody but myself.”

And with that, I bid you adieu. Till next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week six in ephemera.

On slaves in the White House.

I try to stay away from current affairs because keeping a legit news reading list would be a full-time job. Buuuuuuut, everybody was talking about Michelle Obama’s explicit naming of the fact that slaves built the White House. Why would she do that? If we talk about American history in full, we have to talk about everybody’s history, from multiple perspectives not just the (literally) white-washed dominant narrative. And the image of her two black daughters playing on the lawn of the house that black slaves built is a powerful, monumental message. If you’d like to read some historically astute responses to claims that the First Lady was “over the top” or (ugh!) race-baiting, here you go: interview with Jesse J. Holland, the author of a recently published history of African American slaves in the white house; Julie Hirschfeld Davis factchecks for the NYT; and Peter Holley tracks the glitterati of Twitter on the topic.

#BlackLivesMatter in Canada, as we need to be reminded over and over again. A recent incident in Ottawa, not far from where I grew up, had (white) people in Canada shocked that police brutality against black people happens (for more information about what I’m referring to, check the #JusticeForAbdi hashtag on social media). It should not be shocking, but angering, galvanizing, even. Our strange, seemingly passive, national pride built on mutations of British politeness is dangerous, and it needs to change (and the narrative of who Canadians are, and indigenous folks are, for example needs to change). A #BlackLivesMatter in Canada reading list has been compiled. Lets check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.

Marjorie Liu, the creator of Monstress, a bitching comic series I mentioned last week, talks to NPR about how rejection shaped her work. You’ll find the transcript button under the “play” button for the recording. And, as my friend Sabrina says, it’s amazing. Do yourself a favour and read Monstress!

More on the comics front, a list of top comics to read at the beach this summer, courtesy of some comic creators (including the aforementioned Marjorie Liu). I am obsessed with Paper Girls! It’s not an exhaustive list so if you want to turn some folks onto something new, leave a comment!

A few weeks back I referenced and shared an article on how the net is not neutral because algorithms are overwhelmingly developed by white dudes. Further news on this front: WikiLeaks is losing the plot (perhaps never really had it in the first place) in terms of being on the pious vanguard of radical net activism. Speaking of how we get our information and who we trust, the NYT Magazine has a big piece on what’s going on for journalism right now, including several first-person interviews with folks from standard print publications and newer digital publications.

Speaking of pious, how about these holy Sisters of Twitter, eh?

I’m getting ahead of myself here so I’m going to wrap up with something personal. Outside on the beauty of silence when you run (no music, no podcasts, no conversation, just let the ambient sounds of your immediate environs wash over you). Of course, when I run, it’s in near absolute silence, as hearing aids like to fuck shit up when they get humid or damp and that’s no fun for me. And I love intentional, dedicated allotments of silence.

I’ll leave you here this week. The bike photo is from my route to the swim spot I frequent as often as possible. It was abandoned in the twilight, in the middle of a park. Twilight makes everything beautiful, to me.

Week two in ephemera.

The world is going to pot on the daily (hasn’t it always already been?). So, some stuff of inspiration: the women kicking ass as Guardian Angels fighting harassment and violence on NYC’s subways; the Perv Busters!

Less inspiring: how the rich controls the media by silencing journalists. Terrifying.

The Reluctant Memoirist has appeared on a few lists and made the rounds, but it’s a compelling example of how journalist Suki Kim’s gender and race impacted the way her work has been perceived and critiqued in media and publishing circles. From the article:

“As an Asian female, I find that people rarely assume I’m an investigative journalist; even after I tell them, they often forget. Having spent my formative years in America not speaking English, I know how to be mute; my accent sometimes makes people assume I am naïve. I am good at disappearing. I am aware that such apparent weaknesses can in fact be advantages.”

Speaking of a journalist going undercover to get the story: I haven’t been paying close attention, but so far I’ve not seen critiques or categorizing of Shane Bauer that the reluctant memoirist in question above faced. Something to chew over? And, the impact of the prison industrial complex in the United States is one that has been horrifying to watch (and prisons are already horrifying).

I was a front line social worker for eight years and harm reduction was always part of the services I provided, regardless of the position of organizational leadership. If, for a minute, you think it’s alright to write people who use drugs off because you’ve never had that issue, I hope you read this. People are people. The people I worked with and that our community lost are still with me today; memories knocking any self-serving piety out of me on the daily.

Since it’s July 1st, or where I live, Canada Day, I have to add some “CanCon.” Last year, the Truth and Reconciliation Report (TRC) was released to the federal government and general public. This spring, a TRC Reading Challenge was started, and people have been pledging to read or listen to a reading of the Report in its entirety. I signed as a means of intentionally pursuing reconciliation in the present and future. For more information about Canadian history as it relates to ongoing colonial structures, read Lynn Gehl / Gii-Zhigaate-Mnidoo-Kwe’s Algonquin-Anishinaabekwe love letter.

Thank you for reading!