This month’s Reading Round Up offers a collection of some of the best articles I read, covering topics including environmental racism, slavery, and the pandemic. Plus a list of my own written work. Get those tabs ready!
Short fiction spotlight: Must-Read Speculative Short Fiction: March 2020
Book review: Friendship and Magic in Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky
Book review: “Network Effect” by Martha Wells
Book review: “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead
Book list: 9th Grade Reading Recommendations – 2020
Book list: 10th Grade Reading Recommendations – 2020
Book list: 11th Grade Reading Recommendations – 2020
Book list: 12th Grade Reading Recommendations – 2020
“‘A White Man Took Her’: Trauma, Loss, and Grief among the Enslaved” by Tyler Parry for Black Perspectives: “Most registrants preferred brevity, answering with a single word for how they were separated: “force,” “sale,” “Master,” or “death” are among the most popular descriptions. Nelson was one of the registrants never previously married, allowing her to skip the question by placing a “—” through the question. Bumper, however, crammed five words into the space, and his statement even spilled into the certificate’s predetermined typeset questions. “A white man took her,” he wrote, with a specificity not commonly found in these short certificates. His decision reflects one of the realities African Americans confronted as they transitioned from enslavement to freedom toward the close of the Civil War. Liberty brought unprecedented opportunities for those once defined as chattel, but the requirements of citizenship now necessitated that they relived the traumas of their past. In this regard, Bumper’s decision reveals how he wanted his trauma to be remembered as he pointed the finger toward a system predicated upon the exploitation of his own body, and that of his former wife. “A white man took her” was more than a simple explanation; it was a method through which he assured that the record accurately revealed the violence of white supremacy, while simultaneously manifesting the grief and pain he was forced to confront each time he was asked about his past.”
“Black Deaths and Black Mourning in the Time of Coronavirus” by Joan Flores-Villalobos for Black Perspectives: “The pandemic’s particular impact on Black people had miserable, grim parallels to the experience of Black Caribbean immigrants to Panama during the Canal construction in the early twentieth century, where the threat of malaria, yellow fever, and industrial accidents disproportionately killed them. By the official count of the Canal Commission, disease and accidents claimed 5,609 lives (though this is likely a serious underestimation). Black workers accounted for 80% of these deaths. The estimated combined death toll during the French and American Canal construction periods was closer to 25,000 people.1 Remembering the early years of construction, a West Indian man named Alfred Dottin expressed the overwhelming sense of mortality that pervaded the period, saying, “Death was our constant companion,” and describing how he saw “the train loads of dead being carted away daily, as if they were so much lumber.””
“The “Father of Environmental Justice” on Why He Isn’t Surprised by COVID-19 Health Disparities” by Amal Ahmed for TexasMonthly: “When it comes to who gets in line first, and who has priority [for resources like health care], a lot of that is predetermined by the power structures, politically and economic. Oftentimes privilege aligns with race, with white people getting the first and the best protection. And so it’s not surprising when you look at how structural and institutional racism has given privileges for some and disadvantaged others. And when you have poverty, lack of access to health care, [high rates of] uninsured, many who have no private automobiles and are dependent on the buses and public transportation, and neighborhoods in pollution sacrifice zones—and then you pile on top of that the stress of racism—you’re going to get people who are vulnerable. It’s not rocket science. These social determinants of health have been known for many years.”
“Op-Ed: John Cho: Coronavirus reminds Asian Americans like me that our belonging is conditional” by John Cho for LA Times: “I called my parents a few nights ago to tell them to be cautious when stepping out of the house, because they might be targets of verbal or even physical abuse. It felt so strange. Our roles had flipped.
My plea mirrored the admonitions I received from them as a child growing up in Houston. The world, they cautioned, was hostile and it viewed us as strangers. So they warned me to stick close to my family. Close to my kind.”
“Millennials Don’t Stand a Chance” by Annie Lowrey for The Atlantic: “The Millennials entered the workforce during the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Saddled with debt, unable to accumulate wealth, and stuck in low-benefit, dead-end jobs, they never gained the financial security that their parents, grandparents, or even older siblings enjoyed. They are now entering their peak earning years in the midst of an economic cataclysm more severe than the Great Recession, near guaranteeing that they will be the first generation in modern American history to end up poorer than their parents.”
“Our Pandemic Summer” by Ed Yong for The Atlantic: “The pandemic is not a hurricane or a wildfire. It is not comparable to Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Such disasters are confined in time and space. The SARS-CoV-2 virus will linger through the year and across the world. “Everyone wants to know when this will end,” said Devi Sridhar, a public-health expert at the University of Edinburgh. “That’s not the right question. The right question is: How do we continue?””