Queens of Infamy: Anne Boleyn


Anne Thériault | Longreads | May 2018 | 23 minutes (5,949 words)

From the notorious to the half-forgotten, Queens of Infamy, a Longreads series by Anne Thériault, focuses on badass world-historical women of centuries past.

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Some people believe that the Myers-Briggs questionnaire is the ultimate way to classify personality types. Others think that the Enneagram is the way to go. Even more people set their stock in astrology, hoping that the fixed position of the stars at the time of a person’s birth will explain everything about them. I, however, think that you can tell everything you need to know about someone based on which wife of Henry VIII’s is their favorite. Do you prefer Catherine (or Catherine, or Catherine)? Do either of the Annes do it for you? Or, god forbid, are you a fan of the insufferable Jane Fucking Seymour?

Personally, I’m Team Anne Boleyn…

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A Funeral and a Turf War

Dispatches From the Former New World

095 Bog Land, Twelve Pins, Connemara by John Francis Skelton (1954-)

The newspaper clipping is yellowed with age but carefully folded and preserved in a box of papers left by my Irish grandmother. The box was inside a larger one with an assortment of family papers that sat in the back of my closet for more than two decades. I would have opened it far sooner if I had known all the little treasures and poignant stories held within: my father’s British Army ID card, congratulations telegrams sent to my parents on their wedding day in 1947, my Flemish grandmother’s passport stamped with all her visits to England when I was small, annual receipts my Irish grandmother kept for the upkeep of the grave of the baby she lost to pneumonia before my father was born. The yellowed newspaper clipping my grandmother kept so carefully all her life was the announcement…

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Stacey Abrams’ Historic Win in Georgia: A Reading List


On Tuesday, former state representative StaceyAbrams won the Democratic nomination for Governor of Georgia, becoming the first black woman gubernatorial nominee of a major political party in U.S. history. She defeated her opponent handily, beating Stacey Evans with a three-to-one margin with a platform calling for Medicaid expansion, criminal justice reform, gun safety measures, affordable childcare, and universal pre-K.

Abrams faces a tough general election in November. Only four African-American politicians have served as governor in the U.S. ever, with none in the Deep South since Reconstruction. A run-off election will be held in July to determine the Republican nominee, and of the candidates likely to oppose Abrams, both support looser gun laws, tax cuts for high earners, and defunding sanctuary cities as part of a “crackdown on illegal immigration.” Abrams hopes to win by building a multi-racial coalition of progressives (including new voters) that taps into Georgia’s shifting demographics.

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Nell Battle Lewis, Storyteller for Jim Crow


Elizabeth Gillespie McRae | Excerpt adapted from Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy | February 2018 | 19 minutes (5,394 words)

In the late fall of 1923, a young Nell Battle Lewis decided to spend an evening at the Superba Theater in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, watching Birth of a Nation for the fifth time. Reviewing the film in her Raleigh News and Observer column “Incidentally,” Lewis noted that each time D. W. Griffith’s movie came to town, she had to see it. This was her sort of “religious observance.” Birth of a Nation, she wrote, was “the best movie we’ve ever seen.” It made her weep and drove her to exclaim, “This is my native land.” She went on to claim that the first KKK was “a necessary tour de force effected by some of the leaders of a . . …

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A Chance to Rewrite History: The Women Fighters of the Tamil Tigers


Kim Wall | Mansi Choksi | Longreads | May 2018 | 22 minutes (5,980 words)

Kim Wall and Mansi Choksi met at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2012. Mansi returned to India after graduation and Kim soon followed; it was the start of a writing partnership that took the pair on reporting trips to Africa and Sri Lanka.

“We went on our first reporting trip together to write about an emerging Chinatown in Kampala in 2015,” says Mansi. “And then the next year, I moved to New York, where she was living, so we would spend our afternoons working together.”

Mansi and Kim traveled to Sri Lanka in 2016. Mansi recalls Kim’s dedication to telling the story of the women who fought with the Tamil Tigers during Sri Lanka’s brutal, 25-year civil war.

“Kim genuinely fell in love with the women we were writing about,” says Mansi. “You…

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More than Make-Work


Livia Gershon | Longreads | May 2018 | 10 minutes (2,366 words)

In the past several weeks, a flurry of U.S. Senators have come out in support of a federal jobs guarantee. Bernie Sanders announced that his office will propose a plan; Cory Booker filed legislation for a pilot program with Jeff Merkley, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Elizabeth Warren as cosponsors. “Creating an employment guarantee would give all Americans a shot at a day’s work, and by introducing competition into the labor market, raise wages and improve benefits for all workers,” Booker said.

The idea—that the government should provide a job for anyone who wants one—is both radical and impressively well-liked. A recent study found that 52 percent of Americans support it, compared with just 29 percent who say they’re opposed. David Shor, a senior data scientist at Civis Analytics, which conducted the research, told The Nation

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Can the Jaguars’ Unique Biology Help It Survive On Our Over-Populated Planet?


In Peru’s Candamo Valley, one of South America’s most remote pieces of rainforest, wild jaguars still prowl the forest. Sometimes you see them, often times you don’t. For The Atlantic, journalist Nadia Drake narrates her startling, close encounter with the Americas’ largest wild cat, and she examines the traits that might equip the jaguar to survive the world’s true top predator: people. What she finds is a powerful stealthy predator who, instead of hunting humans, tries to avoid confrontation with us and find ways to live on the margins ─ possibly because it knows another able competitor when it sees one.

No one knew how long the jaguar had been watching us. We’d pulled our canoe up to the spot in the late afternoon, then macheted a clearing in a flat patch of jungle uphill from the river. Then we’d cooked dinner under the observant gaze of several monkeys, and afterward…

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Terese Marie Mailhot on the Personal Cost of Speaking Out Against Racism


In a compelling personal essay at Pacific Standard, Terese Marie Mailhot reflects on the systemic racism she’s experienced as a human and as a writer. She relates that speaking out against racism can come with a personal cost, but that as a natural-born liberator, she is both willing and prepared to use her voice and her stories to overcome it.

I used to will chaos into my life. It was a gift of sorts. Mother said I was born to Thunder—which is an element of chaos and liberation in my culture. I have always believed that an electric chaos ran through my blood.

“It’s a gift to be born this way,” my mother said, the first time I told her that I had a terrible dream of a large wheel spinning before me. It would not stop. “That is Thunder. This is a gift.”

She saw the world…

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Feeding Our Kids, In Fatness and in Health


Lots of public health work in the U.S. focuses on the “obesity crisis” and how poverty and fatness intersect. But what stereotypes are we internalizing about poor parents and fat kids? What does it feel like to be a fat person doing this work? Harmony Cox, a fat food justice activist, tells us in her essay at Narratively.

We were discussing the neighborhood, and how we could help people here get healthier food. Creating access to healthy food is my job, but it’s also my passion. It’s how I pay my bills and find an outlet for my frustration with a society that allows the poor to suffer. I was hoping to hear some optimism. Instead I got this:

“Nobody would eat it. Everyone around here is just so… fat.”

I felt the folds of my belly pushing against the table. I felt familiar shame burn the back…

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The Death and Birth of the Los Angeles River


When I first started exploring Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, meaning, really started looking at the city beyond the beaches, people were surprised when I mentioned its river. “It has a river?” Not anymore. In Places Journal, professors Vittoria Di Palma and Alexander Robinson show how increasing numbers of Angelinos have not only discovered their river but are working to rehabilitate it, creating parks with places to bike, jog, and watch wildlife.

The Los Angeles River has come a long way since the days when characters in Repo Man burned trash in barrels in its dystopian cement riverbed. Di Palma and Robinson examine the river’s historical narrative through the lens of Thomas Cole’s 19th century five-part painting series, The Course of Empire. First claimed by colonizers from indigenous people, the river has been tamed and spoiled by Western industrial civilization — and now, hopefully, modernity can return…

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