Supporter takeover! Zoom theater, the power of Selma, skewering white wokeness, and more.
Digest #18, October 18th 2020
Hello my fantastic readers!
Today you're in for a special treat. My five incredible patrons (Katie, Sarah, Hailey, Ceri and Hether), plus my two regular reviewers (my wonderful friend KaM and my husband Alex) have taken over The Seven for a special guest edition. I may be biased, but I think there's a certain magic in sharing interesting content with other people, and condensing your many thoughts into a digestible, bite-sized paragraph. It was a delight to review and edit this content, and I'm pleased to be able to share this platform with The Seven's major supporters this week. And there are seven of them! Which was just serendipity, really.
Read something eye opening lately? Watched something weird, in an intriguing way? Heard a wild fact? I want to know about it! Please send me your content pitches by filling in this form. All selected contributions will get a shout out, including the hyperlink of your choice, sent to the full audience of The Seven. An opportunity to promote your business, a charitable organisation, share your social channels... whatever you like.
Also, remember to enter this month's book giveaway! Two copies of Hood Feminism are up for grabs.
As I pine for the day when I can once again settle into an aisle seat at a local venue and enjoy the art of live performance, I’m settling instead for the ways theatre companies have gotten creative and shifted their art form onto the internet. This play titled The Party Hop (starring Beanie Feldstein, Ayo Edebiri, Ben Platt, and more), which was written to be performed on Zoom, is one of my favorite examples of digital theatre so far! Playwright Natalie Margolin asks us to look 3 years down the road to a world where we are still socially distancing and staying home (I KNOW, but just roll with it). It explores if there is a way to forge real personal connections during a time when next door neighbors haven’t seen each other in years and classmates have never met. While the circumstances are exaggerated (and pretty comical), it shows the way we humans long for those types of connections and how we will put ourselves into some pretty awkward situations to secure them.
A screenshot from the play.
By KaM Schoer
As our fearless leader, Keeya, puts it, I have "a very low bandwidth for powerful things." Works about Black Americans and the struggles we have faced are hard for me to consume. But nearly 6 years ago, I was feeling bold. I visited my local theater on MLK day all by myself to see Ava DuVernay's Selma. The film chronicles Bloody Sunday, a peaceful demonstration that turned tragic on Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. The event would prove to be a monumental turning point in the national perception of the Civil Rights Movement. Within 15 minutes of watching the movie, tears started pouring down my cheeks and didn't stop through the closing credits. I cried for what we've been subjected to, how far we've come, and how far we still have left to go. Most importantly, I cried because I was reminded how worthy, good, and resilient we are as a people. Selma is a fantastic depiction of historic events and people. But beyond that it's also a beautiful film with an incredible soundtrack and exquisite performances from the cast. Even if you have a low threshold for heavy things, I promise you won't regret this one.
The film's theatrical release poster.
Kiley Reid’s debut novel Such A Fun Age is unapologetically blunt in skewering white women’s selfish pursuit of wokeness. It made the 2020 Booker Prize Long List, and slips between the perspectives of 25-year-old Emira Tucker (English Major, typist, journeying through the existential dread endemic to the early twenties) who babysits Briar, the daughter of 33-year-old Alix Chamberlain (Instagram influencer). Alix develops an obsession with Emira, after she is accused of kidnapping Briar by a security guard in a supermarket because Emira is Black and Briar is white. Reid ruthlessly shows how good intentions of well meaning, guilty white people don’t matter when it comes to the outcome of everyday racial biases. At points, the synchronicity of characters’ lives felt too planned, which could be the product of a first novel. This did make it a quick read, though, and also made the book ripe for a TV adaptation. I read this book with my largely white, middle class book club and our initial feeling was that it was too blunt. After some discussion, it became clear we all just felt very called out by a very excellent social satire, and that Such A Fun Age is essential, funny, brilliant reading.
The cover of the novel, and the author, Kiley Reid.
When Keeya asked me if I'd like to contribute to The Seven, I knew I had to share an episode from my favorite podcast, 99% Invisible (or 99PI for those in the know) by Roman Mars. The show examines at the "unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world", giving new perspectives on everyday subjects, and places we take for granted. In August, they released an episode called "The Revolutionary Post". While the politicization of the US Postal Service may currently be a divisive topic among the left and right, its origins began as a way to unite the American colonies, and to provide people with news and information no matter where they lived. In 1831, the USPS was so remarkable that prominent French politician Alexis de Tocqueville was astounded by the levels of literacy and global current affairs knowledge he encountered in even the most remote areas of the country. This is a far cry from modern America, so much so that this episode also caused me to reflect on how this has completely changed, and how many institutions this country was founded on have eroded. Very interesting, and worth a listen.
Kelso, California frontier town post office in the Mojave Desert. Photo by Michelle Loeffler.
On Tuesday, my mother-in-law waited in line for five hours to vote early in the US presidential election in Georgia. This isn’t new. Voter suppression efforts have disproportionately affected Black and Brown people for years, but now the problem is more visible than ever. Last month, the New York Times Magazine released an investigative report on voter suppression, focused on decades of GOP-led efforts. Trump isn’t the first, or the last, politician to oppose equal voting rights, but I appreciate the NYT’s humanization of the faces of this issue. The article highlights the stories of Georgians who waited in line during June’s disastrous presidential primary election, only to have their right to vote denied. I hope we do better by democracy this year and call out blatant voter suppression. Do you live in Georgia and have an interest in protecting your community’s right to vote? Join me as a poll observer on November 3rd.
A screenshot from the beginning of the report, which is interactive and uses multimedia storytelling.
By Ceri Howes
Wherever you are in the world, this year has been tough in terms of being physically separated from family, and for some, a sense of home. For those of us that live alone, physically thousands of miles away from loved ones, it’s been particularly tough, and food has an undeniable ability to dredge up comforting memories when we need them most. As the nights are drawing in here in London, I’ve found myself back on the baking bandwagon, and these Welsh cakes (Pice ar y maen) take me right back to both my gran’s kitchen in Cardiff and my mum’s way over in Seattle. They’re simple and quick to make, with a moreish crunch from the sugar on top. Have one (or three) with a hot cuppa as a working-from-kitchen-table afternoon food hug.
Image from BBC Good Food.
Elsa Majimbo has been one of my favourite discoveries during the pandemic. Her content is hilarious, because it’s so relatable and has my friends and I laughing every time. It’s amazing to see her getting the recognition she deserves and landing a Fenty ambassador role. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Elsa but in the meantime, here’s my current favourite reel from her.