We are 11 days out from the election, 8 days out from Halloween, and zero days out from when it is acceptable to play Christmas music in the year of 2020. Look, those are the rules. I have begun the loop of Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas Unicorn and am introducing myself to Leslie Odom Jr.’s new Christmas album (featuring Cynthia Erivo!). I joke, but self-care is important as the weight of this moment hangs over us, and while reading is often where I find great solace…so is Christmas music…I hope you are all finding ways to take care of yourselves.
Nigeria is home to a number of literary powerhouses. Not least of them is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. As the country falls into chaos amidst police/military violence against its citizens, we can look to voices like Adichie to put into words the pain of her fellow Nigerians. In her NY Times article she speaks of families impacted by SARS, noting, “there are so many families…who are caught between pain and hope, because their sons and brothers were arrested by SARS and they fear the worst, knowing the reputation of SARS, but still they dare to hope in the desperate way we humans do for those we love.” (Read the article.)
You might be surprised to see Teen Vogue on my list, but I actually find the outlet to be a great resource for gaining an introductory understanding to political topics. They do a good job of explaining who the players are, what the stakes are, and what it matters. In fact, I often use their articles in my teaching. In the case of Bolivia, I was unfamiliar with the current political situation, so this article gave me a great overview of the significance of their recent election, and explained why I kept somehow seeing Elon Musk connected to it. (Spoiler: it’s a case of Elon being Elon). (Read the article.)
One of the eeriest things to happen in the last year is for my research background in atrocity prevention to become relevant to my life in the United States. But, as this article from Crisis Group notes, with America’s history one shouldn’t really be that surprised. “The country may be internally at peace, but it is not especially peaceful.” This article was informative not just about the dangers we currently face in America with our election and the turmoil surrounding it, but also about what steps we might take in the coming weeks to protect our democracy. (Read the article.)
This week U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the State Department announced they intend to label three NGOs (Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Human Rights Watch) as anti-Semitic organizations. This is of course ludicrous, and ties directly to the organizations daring to critique Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. We are living in an America where critiquing government sanctioned violence somehow equates anti-Semitism. If you are unfamiliar with what it means to live in an occupied territory, this photo essay is a glimpse into the daily lives of Palestinians. (View the essay.)
Walk Toward the Rising Sun by Ger Duany
I had the opportunity to meet Ger Duany a few years back here in New York. He was infectiously kind, and as he spoke of his story–going from child soldier, to actor, to UN Goodwill Ambassador–I couldn’t wait for him to write it one day so everyone could hear it. Thus, it was with great excitement that I walked down to my local bookstore last weekend and picked up his memoir, Walk Toward the Rising Sun: From Child Soldier to Ambassador of Peace. If you’re in need of a story of determination and strength of will, I would encourage you to pick up a copy.
Header image this week is Fortitude from the New York Public Library. Like all New Yorkers, Fortitude sports a mask these days. (Photo: Eden, Janine and Jim)