Camp ToB 2021
Week Nine: Peaces
It’s a new month and a new book matchup at Camp ToB 2021! This week, we embark on the mystery train of Helen Oyeyemi’s Peaces.
Just a really good conversation featuring Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
We don't exactly stan Ezra Klein's pod, but this episode was very good: A conversation with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates about the 1619 Project, our sorta-kinda democracy, and Donald Trump.
A few excerpts:
Thomas Jefferson wasn’t moonlighting as a slaveholder, George Washington wasn’t moonlighting as a slave holder. That was their career. That was how they garnered the resources to go off and do these other great things that we so admire and we praise. What does it mean to know your founder’s occupation was slave holding? What does it mean to have to accept the fact that the deadliest war in this country’s history for Americans was launched to preserve enslavement? How can you understand those facts and then go off and invade another country and talk about how you’re going to install Jeffersonian democracy with a straight face?
When Obama was able to win with a white minority but a heavy majority of every other racial group, that sent kind of a frightening message I think to even some of the white people who voted for him. That you can ascend to the presidency as a person of color, as the person from the group that is the bottom of American racial caste, and not have to get most white people to vote for you. Now this was true with most Democrats I think since the late 1960s that they haven’t won a white majority, but they were still white people who were ascending to the highest office of the land, to the symbolism of American power. So to then see Obama fall with Trump I think was the most predictable thing in the world, because a message needed to be sent about what this country was.
I think what my daughter has taught me about journalism is I would say things to my child and she would ask me why. And we talk about race a lot, one can imagine, in my household. I myself for instance I’m biracial but I identify as Black, and my daughter would ask me things like, well, your skin color is closer to Grandma, and she’s white, so why aren’t you white? And I’d just say because I’m not. And she would be like, well, why? And then I’m having to explain this completely illogical system to my child and why I adhere to it, and why we as a society adhere to it. And that race is not what we say clearly that it’s — it’s not about skin color, it’s constructed. And someone can look like me and have a white mom and not be white. I can be Black but I can’t be white.
And boy do we agree with Coates's endorsement of Kathryn Schulz's "The Really Big One" as one of the great magazine nonfiction reads of the last 10 years.
Context collapse in a case of nice parallel parking.
Parallel parking can be a tricky skill to master. It can also lead, as described at length at Curbed, to wholesale forest fire on Twitter (because what Twitter wants is people looking at a tweet that makes them so mad that they're going to spend all day tweeting about it. )
i am being cancelled for being good at parallel parking pic.twitter.com/WzEKOHpM0N— p.e. moskowitz (@_pem_pem) July 3, 2021
The author does note that they were somewhat responsible for their cancellation:
I asked the user who had called me an “objectively bad person” to comment. He said the same thing as the others: It was mostly meant as a joke. And then he pointed out something I hadn’t considered. I had been the one to screenshot his tweet, and that was the tweet that went megaviral. I had many more followers than he did, and I had put him on blast to provide them with entertainment. So how was I any different from the trolls who came after me?