January 24, 2020

I’m struggling to keep up with my writing this week! In therapy a few weeks ago, I agreed not to take on any new commitments in my personal life, to spend extra time on self-inquiry and exploration, which has been a lovely intention. Big however, I apparently shunted that sign-up energy into the workplace, and the last week or two I’ve spent crawling out from under a scary long to-do list. I’m approaching balance again now, whew.

  1. ‘There should be clear warnings’: hair dye cancer risk stokes fear in black women, The Guardian. Wow, I did NOT know this risk. “A new landmark study that tracked almost 47,000 American women over eight years has found that using permanent hair dye increases a black woman’s risk of breast cancer by 45%, compared to an increased risk of 7% in white women.” Later the story reports that chemical hair straighteners also increase the risk of breast cancer. “About 74% of black women reported using chemical straighteners compared to only 3% of white women. “Black women straighten their hair to assimilate,” said Amelia Govan, 31, a sales rep who as a teenager straightened her hair every month. “We have to fit in – you never see black women with braids working in corporate.”
  2. Here’s Your 2020 Literary Film and TV Adaptation Preview, LitHub. The Turning looks like a spooky fun one. There’s some cool things on here as well as some I’d watch knowing they won’t live up to my own imagination — it’s fun enough just hanging out in that book world.
  3. Proposed Book Banning Bill in Missouri Could Imprison Librarians, PEN America. Yikes! Did you know that most books that have been challenged and/or banned at schools and libraries in the past few years have featured LGBTQIA characters or themes? This is an extension of the same impulse, with the intention of putting the weight of legal consequences on people who uphold the right to access information. “Under the act, the boards would hold public hearings to receive suggestions as to possible inappropriate books, and would have the authority to order the library to remove any such material from access by minors. Any public library who allows minors access to such “age-inappropriate materials” would have their funding stripped, and librarians who refuse to comply with the act can be fined and imprisoned for up to one year.”
  4. The Royal Museum for Central Africa’s Fraught Update, The Atlantic. “Museum professionals can now turn to a sudden plethora of books, symposia, workshops, and advice blogs about “creating conversation, not controversy,” “future-proofing” a museum, and handling protesters. The main problem, of course, is that so many monuments and museums were built a century or more ago by people who took colonialism, racial hierarchy, and slavery (or at least a benign Gone With the Wind view of the American South) for granted. You “can easily rewrite a textbook,” Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (and now the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution), has said, “but you can’t rewrite a museum.” This is fascinating and disturbing, I’m glad I read it.
  5. The New York Public Library Has Calculated Its Most Checked-Out Books Of All Time, NPR. What’s your favorite on this list? Mine is Where the Wild Things Are! Also, a related Slate story a friend shared with me: “Why Goodnight Moon is missing from the New York Public Library’s list of the 10 most-checked-out books of all time.” Librarian taste-maker drama!

Bonus features for some lighter fare:

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