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Selomé Samuel   

This week
These days, when I find myself in the rare position of speaking with a total stranger, I talk fast. I'm so excited to be interacting with a new person that I can't get the words from my brain to my mouth fast enough. I am an awkward child again, mispronouncing words I've only read in books and asking questions on top of statements on top of questions. I notice it especially in contrast, when I talk with someone whose words are extremely considered and deliberate.

That's how I felt interviewing Tara Houska for the podcast this week. She is an Ojibwe activist and attorney who's been working to prevent the construction of an oil pipeline across her homeland. I loved slowing down to speak with her about wild rice harvesting, whiplash code-switching, protesting in a pandemic, and fostering personal connections to the Earth.

I'm reading
Every love is a long-distance love. We have now spent a year in sweatpants—and the people who make them are being paid less than ever. The celebrity fixer who gets compromising material off the internet—or into the hands of the highest bidder. Black history month and women's history month are the same season. A sculptor is paving the way for prosthetics in darker skin tones. On police violence, race-based trauma, and mental health among Filipina/x/o Americans. The Catholic dissident on a crusade against clergy sex abuse. What happened when Venezuelans lost access to contraception. Women are giving birth in prison, alone. Why did we ever believe teen girls could hold all the power? "Our worth is calculated crudely, so when we do measure up we’re overflowing at the brim, excessive, taking up too much space." The energizing potential of Asian American mediocrity. How the Kardashians changed the way we see beauty. A rare, delightful interview with Frances McDormand. Martha Stewart is the original influencer. What "terminal lucidity" teaches us about life and death. The rise of the wellness app. A free food forest in Atlanta. For several decades, Southern Oregon was the heartland of lesbian separatism. What does it really mean to be nonbinary? I welcome Mx. Potato Head.

Pie chart
Pie chart: What do we have in common with Baarack the Sheep? 35% Persistent feeling of heaviness, 25% wearing a shocking amount of fleece these days, 15% Have skipped our annual physical maintenance, 13% Kind of crusty, 12% Resilient hooves
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I’m looking & listening
Appearances, an absolutely enthralling podcast that blurs the line between fiction and memoir. It's a story about a woman who wants to be a mother and so is grappling with her relationship with her own mother and to the Jewish Iranian American community of her upbringing. I've been writing to Yusuf Lateef's Eastern Sounds. How am I just now learning that the Pointer Sisters covered "Dirty Work"?! And I'm loving Michelle Tea's new podcast Your Magic.

animated gif of wind blowing the red dust on the rocky dry surface of Mars, from the Perseverance Rover's landing
Mars is a beautiful hellhole, and it's making me feel a little better about Earth.

I endorse
Some turns of phrase that have delighted and inspired me as of late:

"assuming" rather than "passing." - Angelica Ross. I love this radical flip of the script: Instead of referring to someone as "passing" as a certain race or gender, what if we called this phenomenon what it is: an assumption made by others?

"hard pants" - Kat Aaron. A term for jeans, trousers with a zipper, any non-soft pants. As soon as I read it I felt the truth of this term in my bones, which are, by now, very accustomed to being swaddled in sweats. 

"the Jonathan panDemme" - Hunter Harris (and, earlier, Jean Grae). For when you're tired of calling it a panini, panorama, or panzanella. I laughed so hard when I read this, and have been recalling it and chortling to myself all week.

The Classifieds

Learn how your unexplored fear of loss contributes to systemic racism—and what to do about it. When most of us think "grief," we think of a singular event. But grief is bigger than our past, and it's bigger than concrete loss. Download an excerpt of Breeshia Wade's Grieving While Black to learn more.
Want to learn a song on piano while learning about yourself? Tap into your creative personality and develop your piano skills by studying with Kelsey.
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Divest from distraction. Reinvest in your self care. Instead is a card deck for people who want to scroll less. Pre-order the deck on Kickstarter, and support a Black woman owned business.

Smithsonian Presents: Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham discuss Afrofuturism and what it means "to be Black and alive right now". Virtually March 11

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"Dear @annehelen, your newsletter is less a flare sent out into the darkness than the campfire that draws us all in and says, "join me, sit down, get warm, listen..." -Nick Childs. I am pretty sure this is referencing my intro to last week's newsletter even though it's @ Anne Helen Petersen. God let's hope she didn't also write about flares in the darkness and I somehow missed it, because if this testimonial really was intended for her I will be deeply embarrassed! (On a related note, AHP's newsletter is excellent.)

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