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This week
"You don’t get to pick your family of origin or the place you grow up. But you do get to choose your friends, and those choices say something about the kind of world you want for yourself."

Today's episode of CYG is another one about the ways we navigate the relationships we choose, particularly those that cross deep divides in identity—specifically, in our case, race. Our guest is the cultural critic Wesley Morris, who wrote about "the trapdoor," a metaphor for an unexpected incident that causes a Black person to be destabilized in their friendship with a white person. We write about this in our book, too, and you can read an excerpt of that chapter (which I've quoted above) at The Cut. We also chatted about race and friendship—and why conversations about race should not be limited to interracial relationships—on The Cut's instagram. You can watch the playback here

I'm reading
A powerful posthumous message from John Lewis: "Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America." On the "Wall of Moms" and Black mothers who have been doing activism for generations. The white women defecting from Trump. How this administration's war on immigrants is playing out within families. What happened when a Florida family opted for restorative justice rather than the death penalty for their mother's killer. The shaming and incarceration of Patricia Ann Prewitt, the longest-serving woman in prison in Missouri. A history of lockdowns in Turkey. Is the postal service being manipulated? The House passed a desperately needed child-care bill. A screen-time expert reconsiders her advice. The cutthroat staycation economy. The campaign to save Halloween, a defense of shopping malls, and the history of a legendary punk hotline. The untold story of your favorite rappers' favorite trippy brand. With Sqirl, it was always about more than moldy jam. The sexual harassment problem at McDonald's, a reckoning among Facebook employees, and the walkout at The Wing. On craving nature during quarantine. A friend comes out as autistic. On Roman nosesWhat to ask instead of "How are you doing?" The arts of sipping Kool-Aidbreathing slow and running late. And the most practical thing I read this week: Science-backed advice for managing COVID risks.

And I love this entire Voices of Disability package, a perfect read as we mark 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act and consider how much work we have yet to do.

Pie chart
Pie chart: What is the US offering instead of paid leave and universal health care? Several Purell stations marked with flashing neon, the sound of one nitrile glove clapping, another dozen "Courage--Pass It On" billboards, a few puffs of Lysol spray into the air, poignant email about no-contact delivery
The Hygiene Theater Pie

This depressing pie chart is free for all thanks to my paying members, who support this newsletter for just $5/year.

I’m looking & listening
Rep. Pramila Jayapal pushes back against Attorney General William Barr's selective crackdown on protesters. Anne Braden, a Southern white women who organized other white people against racism for 60 years. Cartoonist Liana Finck on navigating the confusing rules of social etiquette. My pal Lesley continues to post delightful food videos

I've been relaxing with keiyaA's Forever, Ya Girl, Gabor Szabo's More Sorcery, Snoh Aalegra's Ugh those feels again, and Here It Comes Again by Cate LeBon and Group Listening. And I was recently reminded of this high-pitched neanderthal voice simulation, which made me laugh so hard I sobbed. A classic. Maybe you need to laugh that hard, too?

woman crosses herself and kisses an envelope before mailing it
*everyone mailing a ballot in October*

Speaking of people we choose (to elect)... Aminatou and I are on the podcast discussing vote by mail. If you're in the U.S., you can find the voter registration deadlines and mail-in ballot deadlines for your state. Plan to request a ballot and mail it early! And check on your friends to make sure they know their deadlines, too.

I endorse
Community accountability. Lately I have received a few great emails from subscribers prompting me to be better about the language I'm using and the places I'm linking. These emails tend to follow a pattern:
  1. Open with a warm greeting and let me know they are subscribers, not someone just popping in from a random corner of the internet.
  2. Express faith in my own desire to know better, do better, be better.
  3. Identify something very specific that I could have done better, and offer a few sentences of explanation of how I fell short.
  4. Link to some resources so I can do my own reading and follow-up.
In other words, they've called me in. I cannot take back a newsletter once it's been sent, but I can use better language—and links—moving forward, so I always appreciate being educated. Recent feedback has involved the use of the term "ex-pat" in an ad, and a particular article I linked to describing the situation at the LA restaurant Sqirl. (Here's a much better one, with much deeper reporting and context, which I've also linked in the reading section above.)

These conversations can be hard to initiate, and they are definitely time-consuming, so I am grateful for how these subscribers have engaged me. It's very top-half-of-the-Disapproval Matrix. I'll be using this template when I reach out to organizations and people that I am invested in as I ask them to do better.

Book events
Join us as we discuss the book at these virtual events:

Aug 6 - In conversation with Glory Edim of Well Read Black Girl, hosted by AloudLA and Scripps Presents
Aug 10 In conversation with Teen Vogue executive editor Samhita Mukhopadhyay, hosted by Girls' Night In and Politics and Prose

Time zones and ticketing procedures are different for each event, so click through for details.

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"My two favorite things about @annfriedman’s newsletter are (1) that it leads me to so many good articles and (2) that my childhood friend’s dad, who is a brain surgeon, reads it religiously with his work friends and then they discuss" -Mattie Kahn. Hello to Mattie's friend's dad, and all medical professionals reading this today. Thanks for your work, and I'm so pleased to have you here.

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Ann Friedman

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