I took a long break from writing my top article reads for the week. The world is hard as it is, and to maintain a tranquil energy for as long as possible, I have leaned to less dense materials with focus on whimsical stories. In today’s roundup, I share summaries of a few of the articles I’ve come across that explore ideas in art, literature, and lifestyle.
I read a brilliant piece by Maryam Sefati, where she chronicles her experience as an immigrant in America, metaphorically weaving each phase of her experience with the life cycle of a plastic bag. The article resonated with me on a personal level, from a cultural, religious and career perspective and as an immigrant in America. The parallels her narration painted felt like my current world and current state of mind, since moving to the states. The experience of an immigrant in America is a significant one, which barely replicates the whimsical dreams the bearer may have bore, before tucking their bags under their arms and moving to a strange land. Maryam sufficiently captures that in this quote, where she speaks about her experience.
“The experience came with so much loss and stress and struggle. All those hardships made us depressed, angry, and grumpy — not always pleasurable friends to be with. So, we became like those thick plastic bags you get from stores that hide everything inside one with a happy face on the outside and the phrase “have a nice day!” under the smile.” I am an avid reader of Catapult’s stories and Maryam infusion of metaphor to her storytelling is compelling a must read.
To a more adjacent but related story, I saw the snippet of this short read on Twitter and decided to do a deep dive- Aisha is a brilliant writer and captures succinctly, a pivotal point in her storytelling journey when she encounters a drunkard at age 10. As humans, we have encountered a lot of Danladi’s as we go about our daily lives and immediately passed our judgements. Some are familiar faces others are strangers. But until we let go of our bias and pay close attention, we may never unearth the gory stories behind the faces we encounter.
If you have connected with me here from my newsletter or blog, it’s no news that I love fashion. I recently read a piece in ManRepellar, centred around black creator’s joy which was written by a friend Micaela Verrelien. It is a timely piece considering the continuous conversations about amplifying black voices. Micaela takes us through her week-long summer style, in colorful pieces, featuring black designers like Andrea Iyamah, Loza Maléombh, and Castamira. A must-read.
A while ago, there was a fierce debate on twitter about Afro-futurism and its adoption into contemporary art. A lot of people who did not understand the tour de force, of such genre, were against its infusion in an art form like music. Thankfully a favourite author and essayist, Namwali Serpell in her reflective essay, “I’m Everything and Nothing,” about the legendary Sun Ra, referenced his work and the ‘hybridity’ of his art, which infused or synthesized futuristic costume with Afropop.
According to this lengthy New York Review of Books read, “In 1974 Sun Ra co-wrote, produced, and starred in a film that’s often considered the origin text of what we now call Afrofuturism.” She also highlights the ‘negative-theology of black identity,” which may explain the dissonance by the black community in the accepting of Afrofuturism as a genre in black storytelling, citing Mark Derry, who coined the term ‘Afrofuturism.’ “The notion of Afrofuturism gives rise to a troubling antinomy: Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures?”
“The writer also goes at great length to exhume in different narrations the person-hood of Sun Ra, a character which she also describes as “he’s the boy who cried wolf, he’s the wolf itself, he’s the shimmering go-between.” A lengthy but brilliant read, Namwalli is a surreal writer.
Blessed are the ungovernables is a political-poetry piece and a dramatic work that on a personal level, portrays the kind of politics I have seen and witnessed, especially as a Nigerian. In Nigeria, “politics is a dirty game, that the rich old men play to take our collective power.” Every word in this piece was impressionable, a punchline, and resonated with me deeply.
“In see you next Friday,” prolific writer Andrew Sullivan pens a farewell letter to his readers, following a fallout with the news company, New York Times. His situation is part of the ongoing debate about cancel culture and the place of diversity in opinion. He opines that the ‘cancel culture’ as a norm is not a sustainable move when it comes to critical thinking, and only stifles nuanced conversations on fresh ideas or topics.
I have opinions concerning cancel culture but cannot share them as my ideas are still being shaped by ongoing research. Regardless, this piece is one to read.
These are all the reviews I could loop in for the week, without being tiresome. I hope you enjoy them and you can leave your links below to articles you are reading too.