Week 38 — to live

I saw a meme somewhere about how future historians will ask what quarter of 2020 they specialise in. Tbh after the last few weeks, it feels like specialising in a day might be more appropriate.

This week, where 14 million things happened, this is what I’ve been reading.


Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police
by Mariame Kaba

Regardless of your view on police power – whether you want to get rid of the police or simply to make them less violent – here’s an immediate demand we can all make: Cut the number of police in half and cut their budget in half. Fewer police officers equals fewer opportunities for them to brutalize and kill people.

Black Lives Matter is Not a Design Challenge.
by Schessa Garbutt

If any of you signed up because I’m a designer, you probably know by now not to expect design chat that often. I mean, yes, I read those posts about how to optimise shared Figma libraries but it feels woefully out of place here.

Anyway, here’s a design one for you. It is sitting heavily on the visual side

When I see your overworked hand-lettering and your redraw of George’s selfie and your retro typography protest poster…

but I think it’s good to think about for those of us who design products and services.

#icantbreathe
by Annette Joseph

Perspective from someone who works in tech in the UK, with a brief historical outline and lots of resources to learn more.

Last week when we saw these situations unfold before our very eyes, to many of us, it felt familiar. As does the feeling that, like the others, these perpetrators will not be brought to justice. The situation feels real to us because it is real to us. The ancestral trauma is in our DNA and #wecantbreathe.

The End of White Supremacy, An American Romance
by Saidiya Hartman

The tags call this an essay. Though more some kind of beautiful mashup of essay and science fiction. It’s that kind of essay that you can imagine in an anthology. (Is that the right word for a collection of essays?) Brutal.

Few noticed him. Few ever noticed him except in a way that stung. He was outside the world—“nothing!” When their eyes land on him, he feels the gaze like a blade against his skin and his body retreats from the assault, anticipating where a blow might land, flinching before the kick. His flesh has become a sensor. His muscles are tense.

If nobody is racist, then what is racism?
by Sahar Shah

I was looking for a clear, simple way to explain how we are all racist and found this article. I definitely have seen better versions, but now can’t find them. If you have any, please share.

We live in an institutionally racist society, which I would argue is populated almost entirely by subconsciously racist people. … Otherwise, the publicly accepted definition will remain what white people decide and whether they deem their own thoughts racist or not.

Lots of protest tips are available these days. You don’t need more, do you? Well, just in case here’s how to prepare, dug up from the previous historical period that was 2016. Also, some basic etiquette for white people.


In praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club
by Justin Torres

The 4 year anniversary of the shooting in Pulse nightclub was on Friday, and this old article resurfaced. It tips me sideways. Lola says it best, ‘thinking about how to remember our dead & the gift that is queer living’

The only imperative is to be transformed, transfigured in the disco light. To lighten, loosen, see yourself reflected in the beauty of others. You didn’t come here to be a martyr, you came to live, papi. To live, mamacita. To live, hijos. To live, mariposas.

Why we will always take a stand against transphobia in the British press
by Nim Ralph

This article was published in March, before JK tweeted and then published that absolute nonsense. Before Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells and Riah Milton were brutally murdered. It is very pertinent to anti-racism. Black trans lives matter.

For centuries, white women have been actively complicit in the oppression of black women and other women of colour. White feminism finds its lineage in the biological determinism, eugenics and scientific racism of 19th century, which led to the categorisation of bodies within a racial hierarchy that deemed some women inherently more “human” than others.

Queering the map

This project is part of the research for my dissertation, and I am obsessed with it. I interviewed the founder, Lucas LaRochelle, and we had such an amazing conversation about queerness, data, the internet. The gift that is queer living. Here is a description of the project. And a couple text spinoffs:

Boundaries as invitation, rather than limitation by Lucas LaRochelle and rudi aker

Fragments of a Shattered Urn: Queering The Map, Stonewall, and the Question of Collective Memory by Ali Adenwala

I’m Queer and I Dance and had a lot of Feelings Here: The Archive and History’s Returns in Queering The Map by Jacob Carter

Image: My poorly-thought-through addition when it first launched years ago.


‘Collapse of civilisation is the most likely outcome’: top climate scientists
by Asher Moses

I don’t know why I read these articles. I already know we are doomed and it just gives me stress insomnia. Anyway, it’s an article about how we are doomed.

I was very underwhelmed by their view on how we need to live in the future.

Turner believes it would be possible to provide for everyone’s needs in a sustainable way but we would have to live a 1950s or 1960s-style lifestyle with limits such as one car and TV per household. We wouldn’t be living in caves and we’d still have technology but the rate of change would be a lot slower.

Extremely American and unimaginative. Mate, I live in London. We don’t even have ‘one car’ and good luck finding a flat with space for multiple TVs. To say nothing of the rest of the world. If you are looking for generative ways of imagining our future in the ruins, you won’t find it here.

No house of straw: Sarah Wigglesworth's eco-home, 20 years on
by Nell Card

One for the architecture nerds. I like this idea of caring for your home.

Your home should be treated as if it were a part of your body – which in a way, it is … You need to look after it

Also…

Making It Count: Resisting the Authority of Ignorance by Sita Balani for some political takes I couldn’t possibly comment on due to my contractual ‘impartiality’ which is, as always, very tenuous.

Why Sleep Deprivation Kills by Veronique Greenwood where the point is absolutely not animal cruelty but my stomach turns at the descriptions of what is done to these poor animals (yes, the flies too).

The Wave by Andrew Key on how art can hit you.

Girl by Jamaica Kincaid to feel something.

We Share the Same Tears by Sophia Al-Maria responding to Le Guin’s Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (which I recommend to everyone, all the time). I first discovered Al-Maria’s work from a collaboration with Victoria Sin. Both artists are doing stunning work.


Angela Davis has a bunch of speeches on Spotify. I’ve been listening to them while cycling, starting with The Prison Industrial Complex.

This video about the Black Panthers by Agnes Varda is fantastic. It is depressing how little has changed structurally since 1968. But Angela says, ‘This moment holds possibilities for change we have never before experienced’. So I’m holding on to hope.