September 4, 2020

It was so nice to take August off from Friday5, but I’m also really happy to share things with you all again! The school semester has officially started where I work, so I’m writing this intro with a mask on, with mixed feelings — it’s comforting to see the campus, coworkers, my little office lamp, and a much-smaller number of students, but I’m also KNOCKED out at the end of the day. That looming feeling of ambient danger is exhausting! Here’s some stuff I read this week:

  1. COVID cases in college: Are partying students ruining fall semester?, USA Today. “None of [the public health guidelines] included student buy-in or asked students how they were planning to behave or what challenges they might encounter.” We’ve already seen a bunch of campuses struggling to contain COVID-19, citing off-campus parties as a main source of outbreaks. I think a chorus you’re going to hear a lot this semester is along the lines of, “My classmates are dumb and ruining this for all of us,” or “It’s the partying students that made these carefully-laid college reopening plans fail.” I strongly disagree with this, and I encourage you to consider all the pieces of the puzzle too. First off, if colleges couldn’t keep their 18-20 year olds from underage drinking and partying before a pandemic, I’m not surprised they can’t now. Plus, think of the developmental stage these traditionally aged college students are — at 18, I thought I was invincible, or at the very least, that I’d bounce back from anything. And after a year of missing graduations, proms, and senior trips, I kind of get it. Imagine being 18, mental health and identity issues emerging for the first time, isolated and alone in a dorm room. I’m not saying they’re blameless, these students definitely have ignored health warnings, but this is a problem colleges could have avoided by not re-opening the campus, or at the very least engaging in more intense harm reduction strategies. “There are things as 20-year-old humans that they’re going to do, so it’s about how you educate them,” Girard said. “It’s harm reduction, not ‘just say no.’” I don’t have all the solutions, but I can tell you that shaming and blaming young adults in this situation won’t get the outcome we’re hoping for.
  2. Fashion Trends Are Still Only for Skinny Bodies, InStyle. “Of course, any fat person with even a passing interest in fashion knows this has always been the case. Thin women in tight clothes are empowered for reclaiming their sexuality; fat women in tight clothing are criticized for being overly sexual. Thin women in baggy athleisure are celebrated for embracing the low key; fat women in baggy athleisure are chided for being sloppy and frumpy. Thin women in oversized blazers are adored for playing with androgyny; fat women in oversized blazers are criticized for rejecting femininity.” This piece also addresses the way that class intersects with fatphobia and other body stuff. “The voluminous high-waisted denim shorts I was forced to pull from the Misses section at Sears are the height of cool girl fashion. The wolf moon T-shirt is no longer the uniform of the kid who had to shop at a thrift store; it’s the Bushwick e-girl’s oversized shirt dress, worn for a selfie squatting next to her parents’ swimming pool.”
  3. Weeding Out Racism’s Invisible Roots: Rethinking Children’s Classics, School Library Journal. “I’m not advocating we ban classics. Or erase the past. Classics are undoubtedly examples of excellent writing, or they wouldn’t have survived the test of time. I’m just suggesting we study classics in social studies classrooms, where inherent ideas of inequity are exposed and examined; where Huckleberry Finn may be viewed as an example of literature that showcases the white lens. Delay the study of classics until readers are mature enough to question, debate, and defy subtle assertions. Dissect classics in college by setting aside time to delve into both literary merits and problematic assumptions. Redefine parochial notions of what “well-read” means; after all, British children are unaware of many celebrated American authors.” I really like this idea of challenging the canon of classic lit, especially for children. In particular, waiting until students are old enough to have a nuanced conversation about a book like Huckleberry Finn, rather than having Black students have to sit in a room with white classmates and read/debate the use of the N word. That is alienating and teachers shouldn’t put their students in that position when there are so many other books you could examine for a middle school class. A “new-classic” for middle grade readers that I would recommend is One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. I loved it — her narrative voice is literary but authentic to a young person’s perspective. 
  4. What was it like to be on Supermarket Sweep?, AV Club. David and I have been LOVING this show. One old season is on Netflix and I can’t think of anything more comforting and mindless to put on. This interview is a DELIGHT. “When you’re taping the show before the—I don’t even know what they call that round, but I think it’s the “Supermarket Sweep” round—you get about 10 minutes or so to walk around the supermarket so you can see the prices. Everything has a price on it, so you can see where everything is and then you kind of map out what you’re going to do. And it’s the weirdest things that were expensive, like hoses. And you can only get five of one thing. But hoses were $20. So it was like, “we’ve got to grab hoses,” and brooms were some ridiculous amount of money. That’s where we think the pricing was a little bit odd, because it was like they made cumbersome things expensive because of the comedy of you trying to hold brooms in your cart with hoses and having your cart stacked with diapers and all this with really expensive stuff.” I wondered about that, how people know right where to go! Also the MEATS WERE FAKE I REPEAT THE LARGE HAMS AND TURKEYS WERE FAKE
  5. All 282 American Girl Doll Outfits, Ranked, The Niche. Look, I’ll be honest that I didn’t read every word, but I wanted to share this with anyone else who would like to scroll through a giant page of classic American Girl Doll outfits. I’m glad Kirsten’s Christmas St. Lucia outfit is in the top 10, and this made me want to get all the books out of the library one by one. 

Donation station:

  • Donate to The Trevor Project – This week, join me in donating $5 to the Trevor Project, a live-saving mental health crisis hotline for LGBTQ teens and young people. 

Bonus feature:

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