Every day is Kids Day!

Yesterday was Father’s Day. Upon reminding my son (he made me a lovely card on the Friday), he asked “why isn’t there a kids day?” to which I replied, “every day is Kids Day!” I’ll let you debate the validity of that statement but it rings true for me.

Then today, one of my Twitter mutuals told me that there was a Kids Day (Dia das Criancas) in Brazil on 12th October. This reminded me of Japan’s Children’s Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no Hi) from an old Pokémon episode. So, how many Kids Days are there? According to Wikipedia, there are ~51 Children’s Days observed by countries around the world. While that’s not every day, that’s still nearly 14% of the Gregorian calendar. Most of us only get one birthday!

The official International Children’s Day is on 20th November so kids could get at least two Kids Days a year. In Chile, Children’s Day is officially recognized as the first Wednesday of October but it is actually observed on the second Sunday of August where children are bought toys. Different countries have different traditions, ranging from remembrance (Paraguay) to honour and relaxation (New Zealand’s Children’s Day pays tribute to children as a taonga, the Māori word for treasure)

And that’s why every day is Kids Day for me because children should be honoured and loved every single day. The world can be a horrible place and it can be challenging to nurture children in that kind of environment and explain why bad things happen. It’s important to show love, patience, gratitude, and compassion so they can know what those feelings are and keep them in their hearts. Amongst all the hugs and presents!

Research shows that 5 working hours a day can boost productivity and wellbeing #

But apparently, there’s a catch:

Rheingans CEO Lasse Rheingans says when he first floated the idea of compressed working with staff they came up with the idea of banning distractions like smartphones from their desks and minimising the use of “productivity killers like Slack”. The aim for Rheingans was to keep productivity constant but to give people more time off.

Although more productive and better for work-life balance, Rheingans says that, like Corcoran, he discovered after a year that shorter days are not without their downsides. “We realised that we were losing something on the relationship level,” he says. “It affects loyalty and team culture and the relationships people have in a company, when you don’t have time for chatter and small talk and coffee together.”

“Loyalty”. “Team culture“. Yawn. Many people come to work to work and go home. Stop trying to make work = family happen. Ugh.

Nina Banks on Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander and her ideas on economic justice

For The Washington Post, Nina Banks (associate professor of economics at Bucknell University) paid tribute to Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the first African American to gain a doctoral degree in economics. She suggested that Alexander’s ideology could be the key to solving various problems in the US, particularly for African-Americans:

As a proponent of economic justice, Alexander believed that all people had a right to jobs that paid livable wages, and she viewed this as an essential foundation for enjoying democratic rights. As such, she called on the government to provide an equitable distribution of national income and to create public works programs that addressed urgent social needs tied to poverty and deprivation.

In the 1960s, Black anger over mistreatment in urban slums, where decades of White racial hostility and public policy had confined them, and a lack of economic access erupted in a string of uprisings in cities of all shapes and sizes.

Alexander saw the moral dimension of the civil rights cause, but uniquely, she also understood the economic dynamic, thanks to her training. She knew that despite White claims to the contrary, economic uncertainty among Whites was not the cause of racial violence plaguing Black lives. Rather, it merely acted as an accelerant that intensified their scapegoating and racial animus toward Black Americans.

Yet, Alexander’s work and advice got largely ignored.

Black British LGBTQ+ community deserves better on-screen portrayals, says Nana Duncan #

The UK film industry rarely commissions Black stories because they do not believe that our stories have an audience, and I find that astonishing. Black people are the drivers of culture, and we deserve to be represented. The only stories they seem to commission are the ones about gang violence to further perpetuate the falsehood that is Black on Black crime.

It is crucial that we explore alternative narratives to represent the multitude of nuanced Black experiences in our society. Being a womxn is one thing, being Black and British is another. My queerness adds another dimension to my identity. I am not Black before I am queer, I am not queer before I am Black, I am a queer Black British womxn.

J. Wellington Wimpy, the patron saint of hamburglars

I saw this on Twitter today and thought it was hilarious and oddly poignant, from a modern political perspective.

In the panels, Popeye asks Rough House where J. Wellington Wimpy was to which RH replied “I ain’t seen him and I don’t want to see him—he hasn’t been around today.” Popeye calls Wimpy “arful” before showing pity for him, although RH didn’t share the sentiment:

Well, I don’t. Why, say—that fellow would commit a crime for a hamburger.

We then spot Wimpy taking out razor of some kind as he starts cutting through a barred window into a jail where incarcerated people are eating from a plate full of hamburgers. He sits down to their disbelief and says:

Ah, good evening, gentlemen. Pleasant weather, isnt it, we’re having?

Wimpy literally broke into jail, not to free the people incarcerated there, but to get some of his favourite delicacies, thus breaking the law that could have extended his voluntary visit. It reminded me of how we have the power to abolish jails or and attempt to dismantle the system behind it all but only show glimpses of that for moments that benefit us (i.e. how I’ve seen a lot of performative activism since last year’s BLM protests)

I’m probably reaching but so was Wimpy—behind bars, for another hamburger.

(via Popeye Otaku on Twitter)

Aimé Césaire and his Discourse on Colonialism

Tim Keane wrote about Black Caribbean poet Aimé Césaire who disseminated the brutality of colonialism in his work:

Since Césaire’s death in 2008 at age 94, as democracies devolve into autocracies and wealthy nations sidestep poorer ones on our endangered planet, Discourse on Colonialism remains prescient about the barbarity that informs civilization. In literary terms, its enduring relevance tends to overshadow Césaire’s standing as the most influential Modernist poet in Caribbean literature, an imaginative writer who molded the French language to make a personal poetry characterized by hypnotic physicality, ritualized anguish, and metaphorical exorcisms.

About Aimé Césaire

Césaire was born in Basse-Pointe, Martinique, in 1913. After moving to the capital, Fort-de-France, to attend the only secondary school on the island, he moved to Paris to attend the Lycée Louis-le-Grand on a scholarship. There, he passed the entrance exam for the École Normale Supérieure, co-created a literary review called L’Étudiant noir (The Black Student) and helped to start the Négritude movement.

Reading list

(contains Bookshop affiliate links)

Phrases to help you protect your mental health

For Grammarly, Devon Delfino wrote a great guide on language that can protect your mental health while you work from home or just talking to friends and family.

Social isolation. Work-from-home burnout. Public health-related stress. Political upheaval. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that mental health matters and has become a central issue for many. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily become easier to talk about.

Mental health awareness is one thing but we need more active behaviour to quash the stigmas and myths that surround mental health so those who need help can feel safe to talk about it (or not).

And if you need any alternatives to ableist terms, you can check that out too.

When São Paulo banned billboard advertising

In 2006, São Paulo’s mayor Gilberto Kassab proposed a law known as Lei Cidade Limpa (clean city law in Portuguese) which prohibited any form of billboard advertising or outdoor posters. 15,000 billboards were taken down and despite backlash from advertisers, citizens praised the move.

For New York’s WNYC, local São Paulo reporter Vinícius Queiroz Galvão described his experiences:

São Paulo is a very vertical city. That makes it very frenetic. You could not even realize the architecture of the old buildings, because all the buildings, all the houses were just covered with billboards and logos and propaganda. And there was no criteria. And now it is amazing. They uncovered a lot of problems the city had that we never realized. For example, there are some favelas, which are the shantytowns. I wrote a big story in my newspaper today that in a lot of parts of the city we never realized there was a big shantytown. People were shocked because they never saw that before, just because there were a lot of billboards covering the area. São Paulo is just like New York. It is a very multicultural, globalized city. We have the Japanese neighborhood, we have the Korean neighborhood, we have the Italian neighborhood and in the Korean neighborhood, they have a lot of small manufacturers, these Korean businessmen. They hire illegal labor from Bolivian immigrants. And there was a lot of billboards in front of these manufacturers’ shops. And when they uncovered, we could see through the window a lot of Bolivian people like sleeping and working at the same place. They earn money, just enough for food. So it is a big social problem that was uncovered, and the city was shocked by these news.

Check out Tony de Marco’s Flickr album, titled São Paulo No Logo, for a better look.

Islamic tartan of Scotland #

The Islamic Tartan Concept weaves together the different strands of Scottish and Muslim heritage creating the fabric of the future.

The theological explanation of the design is as follows:

– Blue to represent the Scottish Flag
– Green to represent the colour of Islam
– Five white lines running through the pattern to represent the five pillars of Islam
– Six gold lines to represent the six articles of faith
– Black square to represent the Holy Kabah

African Americans in Soviet Russia

George Tynes, flanked by Soviet army cadets

Zakkiyah Job wrote an interesting piece on the great African American escape to Soviet Russia.

Under Stalin’s de facto policy of ethnic cleansing, it’s hard to picture the USSR as any kind of paradise for persecuted minorities, but in stark contrast to the trauma and systemic oppression that people of colour had long-faced in the many parts of the western world, Mother Russia poised itself as a beacon of equality, ahead of the historical curve.

The likes of Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Dorothy West found themselves in the USSR, much to the chagrin of the American federal government. But the history of Black people in Russia goes further back to include people such as Abram Petrovich Gannibal, a Cameroonian aristocrat who started an Afro-Russian dynasty in the 18th century.

After Ottoman forces kidnapped him as a boy from Cameroon, he was sold to a Russian diplomat and “gifted” to Peter the Great, who publicly adopted and freed him. Abram became a military engineer, a high-ranking general and a nobleman. He is also a maternal great-grandfather to the famed Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

For more on the subject, check out the following list of texts:

Whiteness and racism aren't illnesses

a sign that says racism is a pandemic

I initially opted for a softer title but it was a life goal to be more active with my language back in 2016 or 2017 so there you go.

Three things popped up on my social feed today regarding the connection between whiteness and racism and the language of illness. In reverse order:

  1. An article called “Whiteness is a Pandemic” by Damon Young, referenced in this Kottke.org post of the same title.
  2. An Instagram story from Josh Rivers of Busy Being Black discussing his personal use of language linking white supremacy to illness
  3. This thread from Dr Subini which Josh had originally referenced from an Instagram screenshot post as a counterpoint to the above

Before I dive into anything else, it’s amazing how circumstances can connect through the power of the Internet. And yet that’s exactly what it was created for. Large networks of information rabbit holes that are never too far apart to be deemed coincidence.

Anyway, the final paragraph from Young’s piece for The Root:

White supremacy is a virus that, like other viruses, will not die until there are no bodies left for it to infect. Which means the only way to stop it is to locate it, isolate it, extract it, and kill it. I guess a vaccine could work, too. But we’ve had 400 years to develop one, so I won’t hold my breath.

It’s common to see racism and its structures to be represented that way and while I’ve not done it myself, I know many friends and family who have and haven’t argued against it. But then Josh Rivers mentioned how he’d used similar language before finding this Instagram post from Project LETS which referenced a Twitter thread by Dr. Subini Annamma, a Black Asian feminist and author of The Pedagogy of Pathologization: Dis/abled Girls of Color in the School-prison Nexus. Here’s the first tweet of it:

Fam, racism is not a virus. White supremacy is not a pandemic. Using illness & disability as a metaphor situates white supremacy & racism as passively spreading. These metaphors evade the way white supremacy & racism are purposefully built into structures & strategically enacted

Now this I can relate to. I understand the idea of white supremacy and racism like diseases in that they pervade society and you don’t always see it or can do little to prevent or cure it at all in large quantities. But viewing them as physical structures makes more sense because there are actual constructs that were built for the purpose of promoting white supremacy.

There is no vaccine for racism and knocking down buildings of oppression won’t solve the problem in and of itself. Instead, we tear those walls down and we clear the debris and we use those bricks to create the opposite. The work doesn’t stop because the buildings aren’t standing anymore.

(featured image by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona)

The history of US racism against Asian Americans #

Up until the eve of the COVID-19 crisis, the prevailing narrative about Asian Americans was one of the model minority.

The model minority concept, developed during and after World War II, posits that Asian Americans were the ideal immigrants of color to the United States due to their economic success.

But in the United States, Asian Americans have long been considered as a threat to a nation that promoted a whites-only immigration policy. They were called a “yellow peril”: unclean and unfit for citizenship in America.

A Gold Experience: Part 2

all the gold in the world

This isn’t as nice as Part 1. In fact, I never expected to make a Part 2 but I found this to be grotesquely interesting.

If all the gold ever mined was melted into a solid cube, the cube with sides of 20.5m would fit in an Olympic Swimming Pool.

The small gold sphere, in front of the cash couch, weighs 1 metric ton exactly, with a value over $50 Million dollars.

Demonocracy.info also made one for all the silver in the world, all the money in the world, and US debt represented by $100 bills.

During a global pandemic and “meme stocks”, stuff like this really puts things into perspective.

(h/t Boing Boing; infographic and article via Demoncracy.info)

The Unwritten Rules of Black life

unwritten rules logo

The Unwritten Rules Encyclopedia examines the various rules forced upon Black people:

Black Americans begin to learn these unwritten rules in early childhood, and they impact everything they do. The rules follow them when they are shopping, and they can feel the anxiety of the rules in their chest when they see the police. The rules shape every career move they make and restrict their freedom when they travel.

There are currently 12 rules on the site but rather than just list them, the site also offers ways to erase them through:

  • Learning more
  • Donating to initiatives
  • Signing petitions
  • Forms of activism against them

You can also send in your own anonymous stories related to these unwritten rules.

See also: The Black American collages of Tay Butler and the gentrification of Black Lives Matter.

Paul Ford on the inspiration in procrastination

I follow Paul Ford on Twitter and I love his humour and intellect. So when I found this 99U talk called “Finding Inspiration in Procrastination”, I jumped at the chance to watch.

Something funny happened on Paul Ford’s way to developing his dream project: he found about 1,000 reasons not to do it. “When you need to do a thing, everything you do is about the thing you’re not doing.”

Like many of us, I procrastinate a lot. In fact, I should be washing up right now and instead I’m writing this. But it’s good to know you can do it without feeling guilty and that there are inspirational takeaways from those deviations.

Stream the talk below.