As I'm writing this, the sky is completely hazy with smoke from the California fires. There are already more fires this year than ever in California's recorded history—twenty times more than last year. It's not a record anyone wants to win—and unequivocal evidence of how close to home climate change hits (around half of the people reading this live in California, and many of you are in Oregon). I hope you're all staying healthy and safe from the, you know, pandemic and devastating fires. Here are a few ways I've been educating and entertaining myself this week:
Most people have felt the desire to be smaller at some point in their life—to take up less physical or emotional space, to not speak up for their needs, or to be invisible in a classroom or work environment. Lara William's Supper Club is all about what would happen if women took up more space, with our bodies, messes, and desires. When Roberta meets Stevie, a woman with hunger, for more food but also more joy, they form a secret club where they and other women break into buildings and literally feast together. It's an offbeat story—kind of Donna Tartt's The Secret History (it has similar Bacchanalian references) meets Mona Awad's Bunny—but I loved it, and felt myself building an appetite for more as I read.
I fell in admiration for activist Chanel Miller before I even knew her name, then over the course of reading her brave book, Know My Name. Earlier this month, she and her sister Tiffany launched the podcast, "Childhood," in which they giggle (a lot) and resurface charming, funny, and introspective stories from their childhood. It's far from serious or educational (that's kind of the point, actually!) but a very sweet, stream-of-consciousness break from the news, fires, and 2020.
Last week, a reader held me accountable in the comments on The List. They wrote, "I was hoping to see a little bit more about what progress you were making in your anti-racism work. How is that going?" And I realized it's been far too long since I've shared an update! So, here's a bit of the anti-racism work and education I've been doing recently, mostly offline. My hope in sharing this here is not to wave a virtue flag or prove myself, but to keep myself accountable and maybe even provide some resources you might find helpful in your own journey because it's vital to keep the momentum going, even when others are dropping off:
1. I recently started Rachel Cargle's September The Great Unlearn syllabus on Respectability Politics accessible now via her Patreon page, which you can join for as little as $5 per month. I'm aiming to get through half of the syllabus by the 9/19 "office hours" (more information is available in the syllabus, once you subscribe).
2. I didn't take any African American Studies courses in college, or any class that had a specific focus on diversity or racism, so I'm currently enrolled in an online course on Cultural Diversity in American Life through University of Illinois, which is free if you don't need to get a certificate for it.
3. I'm making my way through an ever-growing list of fiction and nonfiction books that address racism. I'm happy to share the full list, but recently I've been rereading Toni Morrison—and getting so much more from her work than I ever did in high school. Next up: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Ibram X. Kendi's work.
4. Jess did hours of legwork last week to gather some of the most impactful anti-racist activists and posts on social media in August, which I took a deep dive into–and recommend you do too! Thank you, Jess!
1. I try to take at least one five-minute action everyday, like calling officials in Kentucky to (still) demand justice for Breonna Taylor. Nicole Cardoza's newsletter Anti-Racism Daily does a fantastic job of listing quick actions to take everyday.
2. Beyond that, I feel that the most impactful action I can take is to work toward getting Trump out of the Oval Office. I'm texting voters in Swing States, writing letters via Vote Forward, have a recurring, weekly donation going to Biden's campaign through November 3rd, and have volunteered to be a poll worker in November to help counteract voter suppression.
The California fires have served as a vivid reminder to many that climate change cannot be ignored. Beyond supporting candidates and policies that heal our Earth, there are more ways than ever to track and reduce our carbon footprints. The app, Capture, makes it easy to track and reduce your emissions. As soon as you download it, it has you take a quick quiz on your commute, food, and flights. I entered mine as I would pre-COVID and learned that 87% of my carbon footprint comes from flying alone (something I've struggled with in the past). Largely because of flights, my average is far above the global average, which was powerful to see. The good news is that the app makes it easy to create a CO2 target goal, track it, and even offset it (I learned that eating vegetarian just one day would bring my daily output from 5 kg CO2 to 3.8). Download it here and save the world!
Like most of Charlie Kaufman's movies, I'm Thinking of Ending Things (based on the book I was too chicken to read) is a head-scratcher but also amusing and magnetic. My mother-in-law put it best over a text to Jonah and me, "It's nice to chew on and kind of figure out what the thoughts behind it were." Watch it here for a thought-provoking spook.
1. How Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez achieves her signature red lip because "femininity has power" and caring about makeup and universal healthcare are not mutually exclusive (stay for the pep talk at the end).
2. Our contributor Thao (who has a wonderful post on motherhood coming later this week!) just launched an Etsy shop that includes beautiful hand-made dolls. I bought one for a girlfriend I haven't been able to see since she had her baby.
3. How to help California, Oregon, and Washington's fire relief efforts. Also, this cupcakes and cashmere reader is donating proceeds from prints sold to the Red Cross for September month—support Sam's art while giving back here!
4. Gender reveal parties aren't a great idea—says the woman who invented them.
5. I've been trying to buy dumbbells since quarantine started and just got this hot tip from a very kind man at Target—he said that Target restocks them roughly every two to three days and recommended that I go online each night at 10 PM to refresh the page. When you see them in stock, buy them immediately for in-store pick up. Don't say I never provide breaking news here. 😉
6. Magic Castle is doing virtual magic shows now and I'm definitely intrigued...
7. Baby panda-mondium. (Sorry, had to!)
8. This cocktail book looks great.
9. 20 shows to watch this fall. (NYT)
10. Think you're making good climate choices? (NYT)