Laverne Cox Shares Wisdom, an End to Creepy Literary Figures, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading

Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today we have Ta-Nehisi Coates on Howard French’s black journalist paradox, a hopeful vision for the end of sexual harassment’s pervasiveness in the literary world, more recommended reading for the Roots remake, the legacy of Keynes, and Laverne Cox on how black trans bodies are under attack.


Responding to an essay by longtime prominent black journalist Howard French for The Guardian, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a great thinkpiece for The Atlantic yesterday about the limits of measuring black media by white recognition. French lamented what he saw as the limits of black journalists who can either maintain the racist boundaries of national media, or be pigeonholed to write about race, only toted out occasionally for the sake of white guilt. But in Coates’ view, this idea reinforces that tokenism:

The most significant thing about my work, in French’s rendering, is that an influential community of white people have praised it. (Even this formulation is restrictive and rooted in the dated notion that there are no black decision-makers at the National Book Foundation or the MacArthur Foundation.) Another perspective might hold that this community of influencers is ancillary to my work, that my writing is actually a product of the community of black writers and journalists who French erases.


Over at Jezebel, Jia Tolentino gives an overview of where the literary community is at in fighting often subtle (and often not-so-subtle) violence against women. Hint: when we speak up about it and stop shaming and actually believe survivors, rape culture gets weaker.

Women often circulate warnings about them in private, never sure what to do: they talk about incidents that are disturbing but often shy of criminally reportable, and they distribute warnings via hearsay….In terms of artistic value, this man is often phenomenal, the type that can define and support an institution; in terms of his effect on half the women writers he encounters, this man frequently adds up to shit. The cultural landscape is set up ideally right now for women to speak out about this. Privilege and rape culture are phrases in common parlance; sexual inequity and assault are seen (finally) as an epidemic; social media allows whispers to grow into flames.


Really hope the syllabus trend takes off for major pop culture events, like the one for Lemonade, or this one for the Roots remake. Recommendations include “Reflections on the Role of Black Women in the Community of Slaves,” by Angela Davis, and The Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (made into a mini-series last year). Educate yourselves, y’all.

John Maynard Keynes is that economist who finds his way into basically every conversation about macroeconomics and federal spending. Writer Andrew Elrod renews the argument over what Keynes really intended for his theories in reviewing Eric Rauchway’s The Money Makers: How Roosevelt and Keynes Ended the Depression, Defeated Fascism, and Secured a Prosperous Peace. If the current election shifts its focus from every intentional gaffe out of Trump’s mouth to actual economic issues, this piece from Jacobin will be worth your while during the debates:

Part of the trouble comes from Keynes’s appearance in the book. Rauchway admits to a fascination with Keynes, yet downplays the economist’s central arguments. As Robert Skideslky has argued — and as The General Theory itself made clear — Keynes’s unique contribution to liberal economic thought was his warning about the limits of monetary policy as a tool of economic management.

This is clearly evident today, as central banks set interest rates near zero, yet capitalists refuse to marshal these extra funds to generate employment. Predicting this, Keynes argued that when investors fail to promote adequate growth, the government must step in and spend their savings for them.


Obviously you’re going to be on edge until June 17, when the new Orange Is The New Black season drops on Netflix. But until then, you really need to read/watch Laverne Cox and Cece McDonald discuss their new documentary, Free Cece, about McDonald’s life and eventual imprisonment for defending herself against a transphobic attacker. It gets really personal really quick, and there is a heartbreaking but insightful moment when Cox tears up and says,

I think it’s important to look at the intersectional piece, that we’re usually talking about trans women of color, that there’s something about—that black bodies are under attack in this culture, and black trans bodies are under attack. So it’s important for us to remember that. And how do we create spaces of healing for ourselves as a community in the face of such oppression, in the face of such trauma? It’s devastating. It’s devastating to our community to continually hear about this kind of violence.