• Your Remembrances of RBG Are Powerfully Insightful. Here’s a Sample. Keep Them Coming.

    A makeshift memorial for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg near the steps of the US Supreme CourtAlex Edelman/AFP/Getty

    As grieving continues and mobilizing begins in the wake of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death after a profound and pathbreaking life, so too does memorializing, and the sharing of her life’s lessons. Mother Jones readers are sending us glimpses of how you hear her legacy and where you find a recharge in her memory. Below is a selection. Keep your messages coming, in the form embedded in this week’s column by MoJo’s Monika Bauerlein, or by emailing us at recharge@motherjones.com.

    These especially ring true for many of us (and we also heard from those who wished she’d retired under President Obama, but that’s for another post):

    I was born in 1949 and RBG changed my life. Before she helped change the laws dealing with women’s rights, I couldn’t get a credit card in my name. In the want ads, jobs for men were listed separately from jobs for women & I wasn’t allowed to apply for any job listed for men. The laws were crazy & discriminated against women in many ways. Ruth changed that & I will be eternally grateful.
    —A reader who wishes to remain anonymous

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg is all that I ever hoped to be. A strong, intelligent woman who fought the good fight. Who protected the rights of the people who could not protect themselves. She shaped the lives of generations of women. She showed them that they could have control of their lives, their bodies, their family size, their futures. She gave generations of women (and men) hope. And self-determination. She did not allow old white men to control her or us. We cannot let her legacy die. We must fight on in her memory. I own my body. As does every Woman. And man. And I will not ever accept the chains that others wish to reapply. I, for one, will always love RBG and the justice she stood for. And the freedoms she fought for.
    —Roma Johnson-Egea
    Westerville, Ohio

    RBG was such a tower of strength, civility, and compassion in this seriously messed-up country. At least RBG was there to steady the judiciary. It comforts me to hold the memory of her courage and grace.
    —Margo Pearce
    Boston, Massachusetts

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg has inspired generations and made life fairer for all. Tzadik exemplifies her. I know that her reasoning has had an incredible impact the world over and that her dissents will pave the way for progress, as they already have in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Ruth Bader Ginsburg lived with courage, dignity, humility, and love. There could be no better example of a life well-lived in the service of others.
    —Linda
    Hyattsville, Maryland

    Strength, fortitude, intelligence, calm, wisdom. Bonus: She’s from Brooklyn.
    —Gregory
    Brooklyn, New York

    Thinking of RBG reminds me of “When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Angelou.
    —Dee
    Concord, California

    At Dee’s suggestion, Maya Angelou’s “When Great Trees Fall”:

    When great trees fall,
    rocks on distant hills shudder,
    lions hunker down
    in tall grasses,
    and even elephants
    lumber after safety.

    When great trees fall
    in forests,
    small things recoil into silence,
    their senses
    eroded beyond fear.

    When great souls die,
    the air around us becomes
    light, rare, sterile.
    We breathe, briefly.
    Our eyes, briefly,
    see with
    a hurtful clarity.
    Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
    examines,
    gnaws on kind words
    unsaid,
    promised walks
    never taken.

    Great souls die and
    our reality, bound to
    them, takes leave of us.
    Our souls,
    dependent upon their
    nurture,
    now shrink, wizened.
    Our minds, formed
    and informed by their
    radiance, fall away.
    We are not so much maddened
    as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of
    dark, cold
    caves.

    And when great souls die,
    after a period peace blooms,
    slowly and always
    irregularly. Spaces fill
    with a kind of
    soothing electric vibration.
    Our senses, restored, never
    to be the same, whisper to us.
    They existed. They existed.
    We can be. Be and be
    better. For they existed.

    Send us your RBG recharges here or by emailing recharge@motherjones.com. And if you’re looking for a continuing boost, our Recharge blog awaits.

  • “The Root 100” Was Announced This Morning, the Annual List of the Most Influential Black Americans Ages 25–45

    A jumpstart to the week, and a big one to celebrate and contemplate: In its 11th year running, the Root 100 was just published, the annual list of “the most influential African Americans, ages 25 to 45,” selected by The Root’s editorial staff. It’s a powerful lineup.

    Go check. It’s here! Share it. Argue over it! Use exclamation marks! Tweet about it! Agree or disagree with the selections, and once you’re done sharing and debating it, learn from it. Discover or rediscover the 100 people honored by the site’s editors, writers, and producers. The team, led by Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton and Managing Editor Genetta Adams, considered hundreds of publicly submitted nominees and, with the help of a custom-built algorithm, weighed influence by reach—the audiences touched across digital platforms and social media—and substance—the overall impact of work on communities, culture, and society. Winners were picked from the finalists pool by a committee of award-winning, National Association of Black Journalists–honored contributors.

    “This year is more important than ever to highlight those making strides to stand up against social injustices, no matter how large or small,” Belton says.

    While you’re browsing the list and learning about people on it—and sweating why you yourself, or influencers you cherish, didn’t make it—be sure to follow The Root’s editorial crew for continuing analysis and insight in the runup to the election. Follow Belton, Adams, Michael Harriot, Anne Branigin, Felice León, Terrell Jermaine Starr, and many other staffers, past and present, including, of recent Root glory, Danielle Young and Ashley Velez, two of the premier voices in video journalism and narrative storytelling.

    Here’s the full The Root 100. Congrats to the honorees, and the staff behind it.

  • From Our Archives, an Excerpt From Maxine Hong Kingston

    Each week, we take a look at our archives for boosts to propel you into the weekend.

    In Maxine Hong Kingston’s “The Brother in Vietnam,” which we excerpted in 1980, the main character is simply “the brother.”

    It is the Vietnam era. The draft looms. He, “the brother,” does not have a religion, a wife, a physical disability, or a desire to go to war—he has only a job teaching high school in California. So “the brother” does that, at first; he teaches. The brother waits to be called up to the war. He hopes not to be. He spouts a bit of anti-capitalism to his students in the meantime. Kingston writes:

    During Current Events, [the brother] told his class some atrocities to convince them about the wrongness of war. They looked at the pictures of napalmed children and said, “Sure, war is hell.” Where had they learned that acceptance? He told them the worst torture he knew: the Vikings used to cleave a prisoner of war’s back on either side of the spine, and pull the lungs out, which fluttered like wings when the man breathed. This torture was called the Burning Eagle. The brother felt that it was self-evident that we ought to do anything to stop war. But he was learning that, upon hearing terrible things, there are people who are, instead, filled with a crazy patriotism…

    He explained how water, electricity, gas and oil originally belonged to nobody and everybody. Like the air. “But the corporations that control electricity sell it to the rest of us.” “Well, of course they do,” said the student; “I’d sell the air if I had discovered it.” “What if some people can’t afford to buy it?” “Whoever discovered it deserves to be paid for it,” said the stubborn boy. “It’s Communist not to let him make all the money he can.” Although the students could not read or follow logic, they blocked him with their anti-Communism, which seemed to come naturally to them, without effort or study.

    Some have written that “the brother” is likely Kingston’s own brother. Her work often swirls into an autofiction, as Hua Hsu wrote in a profile this year in the New Yorker. This roots Kingston’s story in a tangible haze of guilt. Perhaps one we all recognize today.

    Hsu’s article begins where most do with Kingston: her iconic The Woman Warrior, which “changed American culture.” He describes the process of her writing the book—she burned out on Berkeley counterculture, moved to Hawaii, and, on vacation in Lāna’i, Kingston in 1973 began writing by moving a desk to face the wall.

    But it is his description of her process of writing her second book—China Men, a series of stories about immigrant men published in 1980, which includes “The Brother in Vietnam”—that caught me, and made our excerpt make more sense. He writes: 

    When she completed “China Men,” she and [her partner] flew to New York. After reading the manuscript, [her editor] told her that she had failed. “You don’t understand men,” she remembers him saying. “They’re lonelier than this.”

    Devastated, Kingston got on a bus uptown to her friend Lilah Kan’s apartment, where she and Earll were staying. “I just felt terrible,” she said. She was met by [friends] who greeted her with champagne and pot to celebrate her big meeting. They went ahead with the party, as she retreated into the corner with her Selectric typewriter and wrote a scene based on her father’s time in New York. So much of the immigrant story is joyless hard work. America is so free that you are even free to work through the holidays, Kingston wrote. She wanted to give the immigrant workers a day off. Her father enjoys a night out on the town, ending up at a tearoom, where Chinese men could buy dances with white women. Her father fox-trots with as many blondes as he desires, then returns home alone, wondering if his wife will ever make it to America.

    This work follows a similarly sly trajectory. Unsure what to do, Kingston’s “brother” actually enlists in the Navy. “He arrived at his decision by reasoning like this,” she writes. “In a country that operates on a war economy, there isn’t much difference between being in the Navy and being a civilian.” If every microwave purchase fuels the bombs what point is there?

    Yet the brother cannot fully give up his hatred of the Vietnam War. As much as he tries to give in, Kingston finds that the brother keeps fighting: in small, subtle ways. It is the “sadness” of men that her editor wanted. But the strength too.

    The brother cannot fully go limp, cynical, and evil. He is complicit, yes, in war, but never wages it fully. In Vietnam, as part of the Navy, he refuses to kill. And he refuses to die.

    There’s a shrewd lesson there. Sometimes we must just survive.

    Check out Hsu’s profile, and pick up a copy of any of Kingston’s books.

  • CNN’s Brian Stelter Unpacks Fox’s Playbook on the Latest Mother Jones Podcast

    As my colleague Molly Schwartz neatly sums up, the lies, obfuscations, and dizzying talking points of Fox News are bad. Exposing them is good. We’ve known this forever, but it is freshly necessary to corroborate, investigate, and understand the big picture and the small, to see how we got here. In case you missed the steady skewering that Fox and Trump took last week by CNN’s chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, in conversation with Mother Jones Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery, catch it here. With Jeffery’s pinpoint questions, he assesses whether Fox explains Trump or Trump explains Fox, or each explains the other in a dance of propaganda and power trading. He dishes on what Fox insiders told him for his book Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth. It’s all laid out, the horror and the humor, the madness and the bleakly fascinating details.

    “You say that Hoax is essentially about the Foxification of Trump and the Trumpification of Fox,” the conversation begins. “Who leads this dance, the president or the network?” The answer is good. (Back to good-good news tomorrow. Today we welcome, for a midweek lift, good-bad news.) Reach us with personal stories and good-good recharges at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • A 100-Year-Old Postcard Just Arrived in the Michigan Mail. A Family Search Begins.

    Here’s a post office puzzle that isn’t about the scapegoating of workers or the sabotaging of the universal delivery mandate by a corrupt president and an inept postmaster general. This one’s good; read the whole tale, an epic about a 1920 postcard that took its time reaching its mailbox this month, with a come-from-behind win thanks to the dedication of postal workers. Kudos to the Washington Post’s Sydney Page for piecing it together. Highlights:

    —“Dear cousins,” the postcard starts. “We are quite well but mother has awful lame knees. It is awful cold here.”

    —“Don’t forget to write us,” the note ends, followed by a question about whether ol’ Roy got his pants fixed yet.

    —There’s a Halloween illustration on the front, with the words “Witch would you rather be, a goose or a pumpkin-head?”

    —The one-cent George Washington stamp is legibly marked October 29, 1920.

    —The 30-year-old who received it has pledged to help find members of the original family. “I was shocked,” she said. “At first I didn’t think much of it, other than that it’s old and interesting, but then I took a closer look.”

    —A local librarian is pitching in to complete the puzzle; he has turned, in part, to the 1920 census. (If you’re a census neglecter, get on it.)

    —The Facebook group Positively Belding is on the case.

    —The letter is signed by one Flossie Burgess.

    If you’re related to a Flossie Burgess, let Page know, or drop a line to recharge@motherjones.com. We hope Roy got his pants fixed.

  • A Graphic Designer Is Relabeling Canned Food With Calls for Justice

    If you live in Texas or know someone who does, look twice—or have them look twice—before reaching for that jar of peanut butter or can of soup, cranberries, or ground coffee. And definitely that tin of Spam, container of salt, and jar of mayo. A San Antonio artist has been sneaking around to supermarkets and relabeling food in an act of creative consumer disobedience. Jars and containers are popping up on shelves with parody labels bearing call-to-action political messages, and the labels are virtually indistinguishable from the originals. You’d be forgiven for mistaking them until you get home, when your astute, label-reading housemate makes the fool of you.

    “One of my San Antonio friends has been using his graphic design skillz to re-label grocery store cans with facts about local/national police issues,” tweeted the artist’s friend, who hasn’t named the artist, but the friend, with permission, has made the labels available as PDFs: “Want to bring this revolution to your grocery aisle? He’s made the label files public.”

    See the photos here and here. Enjoy your Ocean Spray Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce, or, if you’re looking, Priorities San Antonio Just Added $8.1 Million to the Police Budget Cranberry Sauce.

  • From Our Archives, a Radicalizing Moment for a Pioneering Organizer

    In August 1976, before Ron Chernow wrote his famous biographies—of Grant, Hamilton, and Washington—he was a freelance magazine writer in New York with a story in Mother Jones. It was our cover that month: a gripping profile of the fight by domestic workers, primarily Black women, to form a union. Chernow writes that they’re “the last frontier of labor organizing.” (It goes without saying these were earlier times, before the Reagan era, when one could think of labor as having a “last” frontier.)

    Most of the piece focuses on Carolyn Reed, a worker in New York who on her midday break goes to other apartments, getting to know each door worker to organize them. You can read more about her here, from Yes magazine, which excerpted a portion of Premilla Nadasen’s book Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement. And much of our own piece can be found here, with Google Books. It includes vivid scenes in which Reed stands up to Republican legislators in the New York state Assembly. When probed by them on the role of helping the elderly who want to be treated like family by their workers, she is forthright:

    “Can I just make a comment on the companion thing,” she says gently. “I don’t like to take the companionship thing and make it an excuse for someone being underpaid. Basically this is what happens. For too long, we have been addressed as ‘one of the family.’ The basic thing is to be paid and have the right kind of coverage.”

    It works. The legislators are convinced to vote in Reed’s favor (though she worries it’s only appeasement for bigger battles down the road). Reading about wins like this is not only gratifying; it also helps make sense of how workers have continued to organize. The National Domestic Workers Alliance is relatively new, forming in 2007, but has gained and grown from the hard work by Reed and others—and it has amassed increasing power. You can read about the long history of this work in a timeline we created, too.

    But, for a moment back to Reed. There is a gem of a moment in this article in how she came to organizing work.

    It is 1963, she is working in a home and wants to join marchers in Washington, DC. Her employer says no. They want her to work a dinner party at their home that evening instead:

    In protest, [Reed] kept the television set blaring throughout the day, pouring out speeches from the Lincoln Memorial. At the dinner table, one pompous doctor wondered aloud, “What do these people want?” He answered his own question: “What they need is an education.”

    “That galled me so,” says Reed, “that I said in the kitchen, ‘What the hell do you think they’re marching for?’ So I went into the dining room and I passed the beans. When I got him, I just—choomph!—right in his lap. ‘Excuse me so much,’ I said, ‘I really should be educated as to how to serve beans.'”

    She then retired to her room and nobody dare bother her that night. Her employers still retained her.

    Incredible! If you have any stories of activism spurred by or involving beans, please let us know at recharge@motherjones.com. I imagine it will be hard to beat this one though.

  • Can We Knit Our Way Forward? Probably Not, But I’m Trying Anyway.

    A perfectly good work in progressVenu Gupta

    I have never looked so hard for ways to recharge myself and come up short. Forget feeling recharged—I would take a day without anguish and despair.

    The fabric of our country is giving way; threads pulled and seams undone. Whether we actually had a more perfect union before the 2016 election or I just saw it that way by selectively focusing on the potential around us, I’m not sure. Either way there’s no chance that I can unsee, and many of us can unsee, America’s sins and separateness.

    I have found a bit of solace and relief in knitting. For days on end during the protests, I shuffled around my house, jittery and nervous not for my safety but for our country’s, and for its future. With each story of militarized assault on free speech and assembly, and with each act of solidarity and strength by protesters, my urge to knit grew stronger. The healing power of knitting—to steadily build—is akin to the power of storytelling, if only in the privacy of my hands and my home. Each day I resisted my urge to knit because I don’t usually knit in the summer—too hot in Chicago, all that wool in my lap. Then one day I relented. As the protests grew, I was moved to take out my needles and yarn.

    Knitting has surged in popularity during the pandemic, with knitting sites and chatrooms growing. I want our country remade and repaired; I want people who’ve suffered for generations to be made whole; I want that line “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all” to mean those last two words. Yet I can’t stand the process that change demands, the upheaval required of uprising, when it feels and hurts like nails on a chalkboard. Uncertainty to me feels like nails on 10 chalkboards. But I know the sound is of something better to come, that we have to take apart what’s loose and weak to make it tighter and stronger. And start again.

    I began the Muhuroosa Blanket pattern a year and a half ago—a year and a half ago!—giddy to create something beautiful and useful. I restarted 10 times—180 stitches, 90 knits, and 90 purls, multiplied by 10. I guess I didn’t have to start fresh, but the blanket would’ve been f’ed if I hadn’t. Even with a good foundation of knits and purls, it’s bound to be a mess. I’m one-third of the way through.

    One stitch after another, back and forth, fixing some mistakes but not all, reminds me that change and creation are slow but possible—and then fast. Seams can be reinforced and threads placed in the right way. But we’ll have to pay vigilant attention as it goes, or we’ll have to start again.

    Venu Gupta is Mother Jones’ Midwest regional development director. Share your stories with her at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • A New Coalition of Poets, Novelists, and Playwrights Is Mobilizing Against Trump

    To the long list of groups formally opposed to Donald Trump’s reelection, we can now add Writers Against Trump. The coalition formed a few weeks ago to mobilize the literary community in opposition to “the racist, destructive, incompetent, corrupt, and fascist regime of Donald Trump, and to give our language, thought, and time to his defeat in November.” The group joins the growing ranks of Against Trumpers, from Republican Voters Against Trump to the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, Christians Against Trump, Jews Against Trump, American Muslims Against Trump, Atheists Against Trump, Hairdressers Against Trump, and Cute Animals Against Trump, which tweets @damncutebunnies. The literary group is collecting video and written testimonies from authors “at all stages in their careers” to assess the stakes in the election and add their voices on Instagram, Facebook, and its website.

    The coalition’s organizers include Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt, as well as Carolyn Forché and Natasha Trethewey. And one John Turturro has come out swinging in the group’s support with a video of his own.

    Unsurprising for a group of literary giants, they get to the core of the candidate and the essence of the moment: “The brutal and criminal regime called an ‘administration’ may remain in power a while longer, spewing disinformation, exacerbating ill health, earth-hatred, obscene inequality, race- and woman-hatred, and encouraging violence, but as an unintended consequence, we are coming together to resist. We hope you’ll join us, and bring us your good ideas and your energy.”

    Writers everywhere are welcome. More than 1,300 have joined so far. Auster’s, Hustvadt’s, Forché’s, and Turturro’s videos are here.

  • After 6 Murder Trials and 23 Years Behind Bars, Curtis Flowers Is Set Free

    The scope of good news that makes Recharge is expansive, from stories of justice achieved to the brightening, heartening, surprising boosts from the archives, like Dorothea Lange’s photos getting digitized, Satchel Paige’s life advice revisited (from our second-ever magazine), and Pharoahe Monch’s truth-telling returned to. Then there’s the genre of good that is essentially bad interrupted, or atrocity halted; when injustice is intervened on late, like wrongly prosecuted people no longer prosecuted, decades after irreversible harm accumulates.

    My colleague Venu Gupta messaged me with a story of exactly this kind. An innocent man, Curtis Flowers, tried six times on murder changes and incarcerated for 23 years before the case was dropped. “How have we come to a point where we caused so much pain to someone and feel like the end of that pain is a celebration?” Venu asked. What does it say about the world “that a man who was not guilty and spent decades in jail after six trials was then found not guilty”?

    Read the full story by Mother Jones and by the Mississippi Center for Justice’s tireless, heroic leaders (here and here), and share more goodness like it, and all forms of recharges, at recharge@motherjones.com. Also share the Recharge blog at motherjones.com/recharge with one person who might want or need it today.

  • Portraits of Survival: COVID and Community Strength Through an Artist’s Eyes

    A family poses for Ashima Yadava's "Front Yard" series of portraits during the pandemic, focusing on how families relate to their homes and each otherAshima Yadava

    When shelter-in-place orders swept the country in March, Ashima Yadava’s first thought was not just to rush home safely to California from New York, but to find ways to make more visible—and help alleviate—a threat indoors. Domestic violence had been her photography’s focus for eight years. She knew right away that isolation in unsafe homes amplified risks for millions of survivors, including people she advocates for. She’d been documenting survivors’ stories in portraits, and she saw immediately that “not all shelters are equal and safe to shelter in,” she tells me.

    But she vowed to continue advocating. “The project closest to my heart is If Hands Could Speak, about domestic violence in the South Asian community in the Bay Area. I had to find a visual grammar to tell their stories without compelling them to relive their trauma. So I started to photograph their hands.”

    If Hands Could Speak is a vivid, powerful portfolio of images, each answering the title’s question. Gesture, touch, texture, expression, and so many aspects of hands tell a story of how trauma goes unseen—and how, in creative forms, it is seen. In one image, two hands hold a third supportively; in another, fingers are bent back. As Yadava tells me, “Not all bruises are visible. Perpetrators often resort to hurting without leaving physical evidence of bruising, and twisting fingers is manipulative, intimidating, and deliberate because, in many ways, it signifies the possibility of more violence.”

    In another image, hands drape across a chest in self-embrace or guardedness, or both. Each person decides for themselves if and how to participate, pose, reimagine, and share their stories, with Yadava’s support:

    A drawing adorns the hand of one of the people photographed in Ashima Yadava’s If Hands Could Speak series.

    The power of Yadava’s approach is not in documenting harm. It’s in reframing what survival and support look like; in finding a language to share and respect bodies’ experiences while protecting identities. She began If Hands Could Speak as an artist-advocate with Maitri, a nonprofit that launched in 1991 when a group of women created a confidential helpline for South Asian survivors of violence in the Bay Area.

    Yadava speaks about herself and her work reflectively, choosing her words as deliberately as she chooses her themes and subjects—but “subjects” is not a word she uses. “I’m very conscious about the language of photography because we’ve known for a long time that photography is a power tool. How it oppresses. ‘Shooting people,’ ‘my subjects.’ They’re not. They’re not my subjects—they’re people.”

    She calls up Sustan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others as a foundational work to illustrate a photographer’s role, and Teju Cole’s essay about the camera as a weapon of imperialism. She also mentions Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind as a reminder of how civilizations progress by collaborating. “Stories are never one-sided,” she says. “I need to keep sharing my power with the people I photograph.”

    She accomplishes that brilliantly in Front Yard, a pandemic series that portrays families in their yards. After developing large-format slides, she prints them in black and white, inviting each family to color as they like:

     

     

    A selection of images from Ashima Yadava’s Front Yard series

    “This is your story. Do what you want!” she tells them. “Write on it, paint, embellish.” Some faces are pensive and quiet; others are bursting with joy. “Homes are places of love, comfort, fears, and so much more. I see how each family deals with the pandemic differently.”

    Yadava keeps the 6-foot distance. “I miss the tactility of interaction. I wasn’t able to hug them, but the exchange of sharing the print and seeing the art they made of it added a bit of cheer.”

    In her latest work, a 40-page zine that’s a photographic representation of “Black Lives Matter” in American Sign Language, Yadava returns to the theme of hands. “The use of ASL not only speaks to this idea of pervasive silence on racism, but also deploys hands as powerful metaphors,” she says. “Hands are in equal part tools of oppression and agents of resilience and revolutionary change.” With the zine, she’s raising funds for grassroots organizations in their fight for racial justice.

    “At the core of my work, I’m trying to answer some difficult questions and add to conversations around issues that matter,” she says. “I want to be a creative channel through which these stories are told. Because I have this skill, and if I can use it to amplify these voices, that’s what I’d like to do.”

    For more of Yadava’s work, visit AshimaYadava.com. Art inputs in the Front Yard series are by Hamida Banu Chopra, Molly Brennan, Mia Villa, Krish and Mayura Iyer, Shriya Manchanda, Nitya and Arvind Kansal, and the Shade family.

    Maitri is at maitri.org and 1-888-8MAITRI (1-888-862-4874). The National Domestic Violence Hotline takes calls 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY. If you’re unable to speak safely, visit thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522. The Department of Health and Human Services has compiled a list of organizations by state.

  • From Our Archives, Baseball!

    Each Friday, I’ve been doing a bit of archive digging, looking back at old issues of Mother Jones to bring you the good stuff. So, let’s go back to our second-ever issue. It is from April 1976, replete with our usual strong reporting.

    We covered a rent strike in the Bronx’s Co-Op City (the high-rise heavy apartment megaplex brought to you by Robert Moses on the former site of an amusement park called Freedomland). We told the story of a worker-owned mine in Vermont. We looked at the presidential race (or, at least, listed musician endorsements: Pat Boone for Ronald Reagan; Linda Ronstadt for Mo Udall; the Allman Brothers for Jimmy Carter). We had a Der Spiegel reporter write from Vietnam.

    Also, we covered baseball.

    The issue had two short pieces on baseball. One was significantly harder-hitting than the other: a report of a canceled trip by US baseball to Cuba, derailed by Henry Kissinger (over, the State Department said, Cuban relations with Angola):

    And the other is the best advice you’ll ever get in your life, from Leroy “Satchel” Paige, a pitcher who played until 59 years old both in the Negro Leagues and for Major League Baseball:

    Here are the six pieces of wisdom from Paige, taken from his book Maybe I’ll Pitch Forever:

    1. Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.

    2. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.

    3. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.

    4. Go very lightly on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain’t restful.

    5. Avoid running at all times.

    6. Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.

    Great stuff. Overall, I’d say Mother Jones was looking to be a top-flight magazine. But you can’t please everyone. One reader had picked up our inaugural issue. He wrote to us:

    Dear Editors,

    As a newspaperman of some 25 years’ experience, I might agree with your letter that there is a question where American society is headed. I must say I did not have quite such a question 25 years ago, but the reaction of people like yourself to the problems of the world, make me wonder.

    No, I don’t think I want to read your magazine. There’s room for an honest publication that tells it as it really is—but that wouldn’t be trendy enough to sell well, would it?

    Gordon E. White

    ALEXANDRIA, VA.

  • A Virtual Dinner Party With Anand Giridharadas, Free and Open to All

    Author, MSNBC analyst, Time editor, no fan of plutocracy, and possessor of one of the most stylishly written, justice-driven Twitter accounts Anand Giridharadas is inviting you to dinner. Join him tomorrow, Friday, for food and drinks. It’s part of Busboys and Poets’ weekly virtual dinner series; register for free. If you haven’t read Giridharadas on money and power and corporate consolidation, catch his latest at The.Ink or his bestseller Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. Spin his interview with podcaster and broadcaster Nelufar Hedayat, and watch his rundown of the challenges and conceptual solutions to capitalism’s economic arrangements.

    If you pull up a seat, get him going on the engines and excesses of growth; the widening wealth gap; and the illusions many of us uphold about corporate powers that are unaccountable to public oversight. He and Elizabeth Warren spoke last year about the case for a Big Tech breakup, and Giridharadas has intoned one of the most memorable truths of modern life: “Plutocrats are going to plute.”

    Tomorrow’s dinner is hosted by the series’ founder, Andy Shallal, who brings together artists, activists, and writers to eat and learn out loud. One imagines what a world would look like in which these collective acts, and changing our minds publicly, were more encouraged.

  • 3 Chefs to Watch, Rewatch, and Celebrate for Recipes to Ease the Pandemic’s Grip

    If you haven’t heard, everything is solved: the pandemic, presidential corruption, climate armageddon, systemic injustice, the cratering economy, raging wildfires, and assaults on human rights everywhere. All set. Pack it up. We did it! Well, no. But when you follow a wide range of chefs it can remind you that creativity and generosity are still abundant. Take chef Latif of Latif’s Inspired. His unscripted videos lead us into the kitchens of family-run restaurants (including his own); he shares recipes alongside his mother and sister; and he welcomes friends and family from the UK, Bangladesh, and worldwide.

    Huddle around the campfire with Anita Lo, whose Cooking Without Borders is creative beyond category; it’s no less extraordinary than her recent Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One. But no one is solo today. We’re all dining and learning from Lo’s versatility.

    And get down with Jack Chaplin of the popular, peerless Daddy Jack’s Cooking With the Blues, running for 12 years. He shares blues history, restaurant secrets, and home cooking tips, with phenomenal camerawork by Lakisha and relentless circling by their dog Axel. “It’s a wonderful thing to see people assist each other” through the pain of the pandemic, he told me when cities locked down as he continued to cook safely at a distance for those in need. He launched a Patreon page to support the effort, and he’s about to release an album of live blues from his years organizing shows—including with the legend Lucky Peterson, his old friend, who’d played with Etta James and Otis Rush.

    Latif’s Inspired is here, Lo here, and Chaplin here. If you have pandemic tips and Recharge recipes to share, email us at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • When the Runway Lights Broke, They Used Their Cars to Land a Medevac

    Last Friday in Igiugig, a village on the Kvichak River in Alaska, residents of the town (population 70) drove at least 20 vehicles to the airport to cast light on the runway as a medevac plane circled above.

    A child needed to be airlifted to a hospital. But the lights of the state-operated airport weren’t operating properly. The vehicles guided the plane down.

    The story was reported by the local station KTOO and by the New York Times. One of the leaders of the group that helped the plane was Ida Nelson. Here’s a bit more about how she gathered people to help. It involves, of all things, a late-night steam bath:

    Ida Nelson had just climbed out of a steam bath and was getting dressed when she heard the LifeMed plane fly over her village…

    “Anytime there’s any type of planes flying after dark, you always assume it’s going to be something urgent and an emergency,” she said. 

    She can see the airport from her steam bath. And when she looked to see what was going on—the runway lights weren’t on.

    “Normally if you push the button like 10 or 15 times the lights will just light up,” she said. “But they didn’t and so the medevac plane flew over the village.”

    She hopped onto her four-wheeler and sped the few hundred yards to the runway. Her neighbor jumped in to help too.

    This is very moving, and concerning (fix those lights!). But it’s also a good example of how civic engineering undergirds our entire lives. (See the fact that the United States has two measurements of feet for no reason, and the havoc it causes.)

    There’s one way of thinking of these kinds of events—one-off moments of humanity peeking through. But it’s actually a civic mindset we’re reminded of. This isn’t the first time Nelson has been profiled for what seems to be her regular practice of helping her neighbors. She’s featured in an article in Hakai Magazine that highlights the practice of villagers in coastal communities sharing smoked fish in winter. It’s a bigger deal than that might sound:

    In a community where a jug of fresh milk is considered a luxury item, with a $20 price tag, fish shared from the Christensen smokehouse contributes nutritious food to freezers and pantries throughout the long, cold winter months. But each act of sharing involved in bringing salmon to a loved one’s dinner table—from mending nets to delivery, and even child care—serves an additional purpose. It gives a reason to check in with those who can’t fish themselves and to ensure they have everything else they need, like medication, a working furnace, and a shoveled driveway. Together, these interactions keep families and community members connected and thriving…providing support that’s just as essential to human survival as food.

    And here is Nelson again:

    Ida Nelson of the Bristol Bay village of Igiugig is Yup’ik and a single working mom. Because she doesn’t have the time to fish and hunt, she welcomes gifts of moose and fish each year. “I think we’re a lot richer than the statistics say we are,” she says.

  • Black Philanthropy Month Sets a New Record for Giving and Growth, and It’s Running Far Beyond August

    As the month comes to a close today, the scope and power of Black Philanthropy Month continue beyond the confines of any calendar or designated stretch of days; it’s running all year long at #BPM365. This month’s haul was its largest in history, measured not just financially but in the impact of livestreamed events, media coverage, and community service projects, thanks to the movement’s founder, Jacqueline Bouvier Copeland, and its architects, Tracey Webb and Valaida Fullwood. They see the campaign less as a finite financial pitch than as a movement to cultivate acts of giving and support, compiled in this year’s list of stories.

    The very word “philanthropy” evokes a range of structural challenges. It’s also a call to action. A sharp essay on the subject was written days ago by Hawwa Muhammad, founder of Pink Trumpet, on the Tides Foundation’s website. Give it a close read; she outlines three pillars of the campaign’s future and ways to think about sustained giving as a lever of real, not just gestural, change.

    The month launched in 2011 as a commemoration of the United Nations proclaiming that year International Year for People of African Descent, and with Copeland’s, Webb’s, and Fullwood’s efforts, it’s reached nearly 17 million people, with a new organizing concept each year. Check out the highlights and reach us at recharge@motherjones.com with stories about the campaign’s impact far beyond the backend of August. And follow Copeland, Webb, and Fullwood for initiatives throughout the year.

  • From Our Archives, a Visit to the Culture Wars (of the 1990s)

    Do you remember the hysteria of the “culture wars”? In the 1990s—across magazine pages and college campuses and in books (Arthur Schlesinger Jr., hello!)—there was a growing concern about the culture. Ah, that vague noun. Much like today, discussions of the problem with the discourse or the culture fit the eye of the beholder. In grasping for facts that fit a feeling of anxiety, thinkers lumped in anything they could find.

    This led to one of my favorite sentences I’ve read in our archives—as I pull from it each week to give you a boost into the weekend: The opening line in Louis Menand’s 1995 piece “Mixed Paint.”

    The “culture wars”—the metaphor into which campus hate-speech codes, school prayer, Afrocentric school curricula, abortion, politically correct language, family values, affirmative action, the racial distribution of intelligence, deconstructionist literary criticism, sexual harassment policy, the Great Books, hardcore pornography, publicly funded art, and many other fractious things, are currently stuffed—are misfigured.

    I found comfort, and maybe you will too, in realizing how “stuffed” terms can be when they mean, in fact, whatever you want them to.

    The rest of Menand’s piece might not be worth the read. I don’t agree with much of it. Its best parts point out that these discussions over “culture” have occurred for a long time. He quibbles that the misconfiguring fear for liberalism in the “culture war,” much like the fear of “cancel culture” ruining free speech today, is actually a series of attacks (from every angle, all across the political spectrum) over who has power. Gripes about the end of the melting pot, and the end of liberalism, are misplaced. That’s all interesting, and worth remembering.

    But Menand, who now writes at the New Yorker and published the fantastic history of American pragmatism The Metaphysical Club, spins that out as a grand vision of liberalism as saving America. He believes that all this friction of ideas means America is actually finally doing some mixing, as real integration occurs. (I disagree!) He says liberalism is to thank for that. (I disagree, again!) And it drones on from there, with more than a vague hint of condescension.

    His most fascinating (and wrong) point, to me, is that the problem is that “liberalism has nothing substantive to say about culture.” While “liberals, like anyone else, have views about culture,” he writes, “liberalism doesn’t.” Think of the “cultural vacuum” of the SAT, as an example, he writes.

    Liberalism’s faith is that groups are fundamentally equal in capacity, so that bracketing race and gender to eliminate bias will produce demographically proportional results. There is no reason to believe that, in the cultural vacuum tests like the SATs are supposed to provide, people will score lower or higher just because they have breasts or darker skin. Holding cultural background constant, liberals believe we can measure, and reward, excellence and excellence alone.

    I think many would find the SAT example laughable. The test’s false neutrality is the problem. In a racist society, you cannot, as liberalism would hope, just keep “cultural background constant.” Menand holds out hope for the triumph of a neutral meritocracy that liberalism will create. Well, it hasn’t happened.

    But, at the same time, I think Menand is aware of how capitalist democracies are prone to complain about “culture” as a code for battles over inequality.

    The obsession with “culture” (as opposed to, say, economics) as the key to our national problems draws on an intellectual tradition which points to culture (high culture, indigenous culture, or folk culture, depending on the theorist) as the element of continuity and moral coherence in a world characterized precisely by its lack of respect for continuity and moral coherence. The trouble with this faith is that in addition to being socially and economically mobile and unstable, modern liberal societies are culturally mobile and unstable, as well. Capitalist democracies are not just permissive about cultural change; they actually thrive on it. A new taste means a new market. A free-for-all is exactly the sort of “culture war” capitalist societies produce.

    Even if you hate all of this Menand article, take comfort—hate-reading a long article can be a lovely weekend activity too. Plus, his recent one on affirmative action in the New Yorker has a markedly different series of conclusions. Check that out here.

  • A Top Court Resoundingly Affirms Trans Rights in Gavin Grimm’s Battle for Equality

    After a yearslong fight for equal protection in a bathroom access battle that’s made Gavin Grimm a trans hero, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that it’s a violation of Title IX to bar students from bathrooms that match their gender identities. Grimm made national news in 2015 when his Virginia high school refused to let him use the boys’ room. Now 20, he celebrated the “incredible affirmation” not just for him “but for trans youth around the country.”

    In a tweet yesterday, he shouted out the relentless solidarity that sustained him: “Thank you to everyone at the @ACLU for inviting me in like family and fighting like hell to make sure justice was served.”

    “Fighting like hell” will be familiar if who’ve heard our namesake’s best-known quote, “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living”—and it could use an extra beat: Fight like hell for the living, and mark victories when you score them. The fight doesn’t end, but wins dot its path. The trajectory is best seen by revisiting my colleague Samantha Michaels’ powerful 2017 profile of Grimm and enduring look at one of his attorneys.

    The victory, just as schools start up, is perfectly timed for students looking for signs of progress as a counterweight to the self-absolution and snarling discrimination of the revisionists onstage at the RNC this week. The headlines are stacked; they’ll keep elevating chilling reminders of the steep climb ahead. But a major win is a major win. Congrats to Grimm. Share thoughts at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • LeBron James Just Launched a Multimillion-Dollar Fight Against Voter Suppression in Battleground Districts

    If King James’ crossovers and dunks on Donald Trump in tweets and press statements weren’t enough to mobilize voters, the NBA star has another move: He’s leading a group of top athletes to fight voter suppression in heavily Black districts before the election. Collaborating with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, he launched the group More Than a Vote, focusing on Ohio, Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states beset by disenfranchisement and disinformation.

    Most poll workers are over 60, and many states are looking for younger recruits to join them. More Than a Vote plans to bring aboard paid workers and volunteers of all ages while prioritizing poll safety during the pandemic. The details are here. If you’re a poll worker in one of these states and want a shoutout, or have stories or concerns about ballot access, let us know at recharge@motherjones.com.