Recent Must Reads: A Weekly Roundup

For a number of years, I taught writing at a state university in Massachusetts. One of my favorite courses to teach was “Writing About Art,” a class I designed myself. I asked students to list artists that they liked, artists that they knew and recognized. Then we perused our lists for artists of color, and most of us came up empty. Brittany King’s essay on University of Missouri student, JoMerra Watson, focuses on a similar issue. In her art studies, Watson did not find herself or her African American culture reflected in art. So, she took iconic paintings by Munch, Van Gogh and others and replaced the people in those paintings with people of color. Her purpose is to search for her own identity in our current political climate and to create Black Representation in art.

Other articles this week include issues of rape and sexual harassment, specifically in regard to Casey Afleck’s Oscar win and how Afleck and Nat Turner’s experience in the media has been very different. Another article describes how we use language, that a slave is never a “mistress.” More of an obituary, a piece from The Coversation tells the life of African writer and activist, Miriam Tlali. Tlali is a new writer for me, but her biography is inspiring. I include the piece here for those readers unfamiliar with her courage in writing and living. In a Teen Vogue interview, Gavin Grimm is interviewed by another trans student. The article sheds light on transgender issues, particularly for young people. With Grimm’s case being heard later this month at The Supreme Court, the interview is a timely one. I could have included another 20 articles and barely scratched the surface of all that happened this week. So, in case you missed some of these pieces, READ ON. Your comments are welcome.

  1. She wanted the painting to make people stop, think, and inquire more. She believes this is the best way to get people from opposing sides to come together. “I want people to learn how to ask questions,” she says. “Asking questions will cause you to do research and ask more questions. That’s how we get cultured. That’s how we learn things about people. That’s how we dismantle hate.”

“The Power of Centering Blackness in Iconic Art”/ by Brittany King/ The Establishment/ February 24, 2017

2. A slave cannot be a mistress. This is not an “alternative fact” but rather the objective reality of being dominated, dehumanized, and disenfranchised against your will.


“Why You Can’t Ever Call an Enslaved Woman a ‘Mistress’ ”/ by Lincoln Blades/ Teen Vogue/ February 27, 2017

3. It makes people squeamish to think a famous person they like might have assaulted someone. Maybe she lied, they say. After all, who is she? She’s nobody, so shaming her is easy. We can keep watching Oscar-nominated movies without feeling guilty if she is overreacting.

“Why the Oscars (and Everyone, Really) Should Ignore Casey Affleck”/ by Linni Kral/ marie claire/ February 24, 2017

4. What is new, however, is a (questionably legal) executive order from President Trump stating that any city that does not assist federal authorities in identifying and detaining persons thought to be of interest to ICE will no longer be eligible for federal funding.

Fear of an Immigrant Nation: How Many Generations Until We Are Considered American?”/ by Soraya Membreno/ bitchmedia/ February 27, 2017

5. At its best, when not colluding with white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, black religiosity allows us to learn how to love our flesh, and love it hard, in a world that does not deem blackness as loving or lovable.


“To Be Held By Moonlight”/ by Ashon Crawley/ The Root/ February 27, 2017

6. When I interviewed her in 2006, Tlali recalled being brutally beaten in her home in Soweto by police on several occasions. During those years, she would wrap her manuscripts-in-progress in plastic shopping bags at the end of each day, and bury them in her back yard to avoid police confiscating them during raids.


“Rest on Power, Miriam Tlali: Author, Enemy of Apartheid, and Feminist”/ by Barbara Boswell/ The Conversation/ February 28, 2017

7. Monday’s threats arrived just a day after dozens of gravestones were toppled and damaged at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. Just days prior to that, vandals in Missouri damaged a Jewish cemetery in University City, toppling at least 100 headstones.

“Another Wave Of Bomb Threats Hits Jewish Community Centers, Schools”/ by Matt Ferner and Willa Frej/ Huffington Post/ February 27, 2017

8. “Donald Trump’s campaign and victory has emboldened people on the radical right or people who simply hate certain minority groups to act,” Potok said. “They feel that their views have been legitimized by the man who is president of the United States.”

“Four Mosques Have Burned In Seven Weeks — Leaving Many Muslims and Advocates Stunned”/ by Albert Samaha and Talal Ansari/ Buzz Feed/ February 28, 2017.

9. In an age where sexual assault has received renewed attention, and the likes of Bill Cosby and Roger Ailes are being forced to face their own allegations of sexual misconduct, what has happened to Parker and what hasn’t happened to Affleck deserves interrogation, if only as a case study of how race, class, access and one’s attitude are inextricably linked.

“Race, privilege and a bad attitude: Why are Nate Parker and Casey Affleck being treated differently?”/ by Tre’vell Anderson/ Los Angeles Times/ January 19, 2017.

10. Trans people are your sisters, brothers, teachers, doctors, neighbors, children, friends. We are normal people just striving to be ourselves. We’ve been around for as long as people were around, and our trans-ness does not make us dangerous or perverse or insidious.

“Gavin Grimm Talks Bringing Transgender Rights to the Supreme Court”/ by Grace Dolan-Sandrino/ Teen Vogue/ February 22, 2017.


Joyce Hayden left her university teaching job two years ago in order to pursue her own artistic work. An assemblage artist, painter, and writer, Joyce is currently in the process of acquiring an agent to represent her memoir, The Out of Body Girl, which describes her 8 year relationship with a charismatic gambler and the dangerous road that eventually led to her freedom. Her chapbook of poems, Lost Handprint, is forthcoming from Dandelion Review. A freelance editor and writing coach, Joyce’s writing services and a selection of her artwork can be found at her website Joyce is available for commission art work, including celebration shrines for loved ones and pets.

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