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Sunday Reads

Long Reads

An Aesthetic of Blackness: Strange and Oppositional
by bell hooks

As artist and critic, I find compelling a radical aesthetic that seeks to uncover and restore links between art and revolutionary politics, particularly black liberation struggle, while offering an expansive critical foundation for aesthetic evaluation. Concern for the contemporary plight of black people necessitates that I interrogate my work to see if it functions as a force that promotes the development of critical consciousness and resistance movement.

Placial Justice: Restoring Rehabilitation and Correctional Legitimacy Through Architectural Design
By Victor J. St. John

If we must live with jails and prisons, which in my view is debatable, then the author suggests we use affective architecture to increase perceptions of justice, fairness, and positivity in criminal justice buildings.

Mass Incarceration Poses a Uniquely American Risk in the Coronavirus Pandemic
By Alice Speri

The fragmentation of the U.S. criminal justice system — a sprawling, decentralized bureaucracy with thousands of jurisdictions and powerholders — has long served to hide the full cost of mass incarceration. Comprehensive data on those the U.S. deprives of their freedom is virtually impossible to obtain in a timely fashion, if at all. The coronavirus crisis has laid bare this systemic failure more than ever. The country’s more than 3,000 jails, in particular, function like fiefdoms. While state corrections departments oversee prisons, and the Bureau of Prisons runs federal facilities, jails operate under the authority of thousands of local officials. Only a handful of states collect data from their jails.

Isaac Kasamani/AFP via Getty Images

Fighting the ghost
By Harriet Salem

This article was published in Delayed Gratification before the COVID crisis was a pandemic. The subject is Ebola and vaccination development. Reading this in light of COVID is very interesting and may point to some future directions. “In November 2019 a highly effective vaccine against Ebola was cleared for use by the European Commission. But as Harriet Salem found out on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, huge obstacles remain on the path to beating this horrifying disease.”

‘You’re Fired!’ Retrotopian Desire and Right-Wing Class Politics
By Simon Schleusener

This essay will explore the way in which the populist right has utilized the realms of popular culture and the media in its struggle for hegemony.1 Along these lines, I will focus on Donald Trump’s former reality show, The Apprentice, drawing attention to the show’s prefiguration of precisely the right-wing class politics that was in many ways constitutive of Trump’s election as president – and which is still one of the key features of Trumpism today. In the course of the essay, I will also analyze certain facets of the online culture wars (cf. Nagle 2017), particularly examining right-wing efforts to pit feminists and working-class men against each other.

State Surveillance: Exploiting Fear during the Pandemic Crisis?
By Kirsten Hillebrand

During the pandemic crisis, state surveillance measures violated citizens’ privacy rights to track the virus spread. Little civic protest resulted—“safety first”? Indeed, many measures were implemented during the crisis without ever having been discussed in advance of the event of a crisis, which may raise ethical considerations, as individual consent to surveillance may change while experiencing fear.

Shorter Reads

Free Up the Prisoners
Anis Shivani

Why immigrant advocates should move from reform of prisons to abolition. And, In Migrating to Prison, Cesar Cuauhtémoc García Hernández puts both the financial and political motives for the explosive rise of immigration imprisonment into broader context. Migrating to Prison makes the persuasive case that the astronomical boom in imprisonment of immigrants stems from exactly the same root causes, both financial and political, as the dramatic escalation in mass incarceration. The case for abolition of prisons in general and immigrant prisons in particular rests on the same grounds.

For us to heal, we must be willing to not fear, fear.
By Irene Lyon

Fear is a biological and survival necessity. The cascade of neurochemical reactions lets us know, at lightning speed, that something is not right. Nature designed fear with speediness in mind. To understand how we embed the biological message that fear is to be feared and that fear is supposed to be scary, it’s important to understand how early life experiences, usually traumatic ones, trap fear.

Now Is the Time to Take Radical Steps Toward Housing Equity
By Chris Tittle

The current pandemic and economic crisis reveals in new ways just how cruel the private housing market can be. In April, one third of all renters could not pay rent—and 20 million more people have filed for unemployment since then. Research by the Eviction Lab shows how damaging eviction has always been to families and communities – evictions during COVID-19 might effectively amount to a death sentence for some people.

Bonus Material

If you just need something beautiful and kind, then enjoy this performance by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Be sure to turn on subtitles/captions so you get the translation from Japanese.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Playing the Piano for the Isolated
Performed on April 2, 2020 in Tokyo
Published on YouTube on May 16, 2020

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Reading

Sunday Reads

Long Reads

Creation in Confinement: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration
By Nicole R. Fleetwood

“In popular entertainment, journalism, and documentaries, images of “life behind bars” fascinate, horrify, and titillate. They also offer a familiarity with prison as a cornerstone institution of modern life, but one that the majority of people never enter. The nonincarcerated public comes to recognize prison and the people in prison almost exclusively through a set of rehearsed images created by the state and by nonincarcerated image-makers—images like arrest photos, mug shots, the minimal furnishings of the prison cell, fortress-like walls, barbed wire, bars, metal doors, and the executioner’s chair.”

Russell Craig: Self Portrait, 2016

Russell Craig/Photo by Kisha Bari, provided by the Soze Agency
Russell Craig: Self Portrait, 2016
Russell Craig/Photo by Kisha Bari, provided by the Soze Agency

The datafication of teaching in Higher Education: critical issues and perspectives
By Ben Williamson, Sian Bayne & Suellen Shay

“Although ‘datafication’ – the rendering of social and natural worlds in machine-readable digital format – has most clearly manifested in the commercial domain, such as in online commerce (e.g. Amazon), social media (Facebook, Twitter), and online advertising (Google), it has quickly spread outwards to encompass a much wider range of services and sectors. These include, controversially, the use of facial recognition and predictive analytics in policing, algorithmic forms of welfare allocation, automated medical diagnosis, and – the subject of this special issue – the datafication of education.”

Why climate change is a pandemic in slow motion (and what that can teach us)
By Rob Wijnberg

“If this time is showing us anything, it’s this: we are able to transform society on a global scale in order to protect ourselves from danger. Now is the time to solve not just one crisis, but two at the same time.”

Short Reads

Beyond Rights: COVID—19, Conservatives and the Responsibilities of American Christianity
By David C. McDuffie

“In claiming religious freedom as a justification to act contrary to public health advice, some conservative Christian leaders in the United States are choosing to risk American lives so that their congregations can attend to their spiritual needs. Though most Christian communities have suspended traditional worship in adherence of social distancing guidelines, David C. McDuffie sees the defiant behaviour of the minority as rooted in a common supernatural understanding of Christian duty.”

We’re Still Living and Dying in the Slaveholders’ Republic
By Ibram X. Kendi

“Slaveholders disavowed a state that secured any form of communal freedom—the freedom of the community from slavery, from disenfranchisement, from exploitation, from poverty, from all the demeaning and silencing and killing. The freedom from. The freedom from harm. Which is to say, in coronavirus terms, the freedom from infection.”

How Serbian activists started a nationwide anti-authoritarian protest during COVID-19 lockdown
By Miloš Budimir

What began as a nightly cheer for healthcare workers has inspired thousands of people to bang pots and pans, blow whistles and blast music to protest Serbia’s ruling regime.

The COVID Crisis Is Reinforcing the Hunger Industrial Complex
By Andrew Fisher

“The existence of this unholy alliance poses the fundamental question of: “Why end hunger when anti-hunger work is so profitable to all parties?” Through supporting anti-hunger organizations, corporations reduce their labor costs, garbage disposal fees, and tax bills while building their reputations as socially responsible firms.”

Is Our War With The Environment Leading To Pandemics?
By Fiona Armstrong, Anthony Capon And Ro McFarlane

“It might be clear to readers here that human health depends on healthy ecosystems. But this is rarely considered in policy decisions on projects that affect natural ecosystems – such as land clearing, major energy or transport infrastructure projects and industrial-scale farming.”

BONUS – Videos

Life-Making, Capitalism and the Pandemic: Feminist Ideas about Women’s Work with Susan Ferguson and Tithi Bhattacharya

Martin Luther King, Jr. on Income Inequality and Redistribution of Wealth + James Baldwin

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Reading

Sunday Reads (2020-01-12)

This first piece is a great read on public discourse and tech monopolies. I’ve read and respected the author Cory Doctorow for many years. You should look for other work by him! – Inaction is a Form of Action

In The Merchants of Thirst, Peter Schwartzstein takes us to Nepal to discover how difficult and costly it is for people to receive water. The dire nature should be a wake-up call for everyone.

This third piece was of particular interest to me because I know Marc Benioff. We can ask the question: is there such a thing as a good billionaire? Chris Colin wrote for Wired magazine The Gospel of Wealth According to Marc Benioff.

My final read for the day is a shorter piece from the NYT opinion pages. Talk Less. Listen More. Here’s How. by Kate Murphy digs into what it means to listen.

Gold bars