Saturday, July 21, 2018

First and 15th

Today I recommend to you the new bimonthly newsletterish offering called The First and 15th from Tressie McMillan Cottom. I have mentioned her name a few times in a too-many-tabs post or in my Twitter roundups (her Twitter handle is @tressiemcphd), but given how much she influences my thinking, she has been largely absent from this place.

Her first post on Fand15 is about Twitter itself. Women on Twitter, and especially black women, take the constant brunt of misogyny and hatred from "real" men and bots, and some are driven from that space to keep their mental health. Tressie will not be driven out. As she puts it,

There is a lot wrong with that space. It is racist. It is sexist. It is reactionary. It is ephemeral.

There is a lot great with that space. It is networks. It is community. It is culture. It is ephemeral.

That is, Twitter is us. It is horrible and wonderful because we are horrible and wonderful.

I am not leaving Twitter. Can’t leave society no matter what Thoreau tells y’all fools. We here now.

I am living a great life during really bad times. That does not always feel great.
Writing Fand15, she says, will be her attempt to make a more productive conversation than she usually finds on Twitter, though:
We will talk here. Rather than writing to an imagined audience or into a canon of thought, I want to talk with humans through the machine. On the first and the fifteenth of every month of this experiment that is what you will see in this space…if you subscribe.

The subscription is the rub. The club has velvet ropes and so does nationalism. How can I endorse a border in a time when borders appear to want to kill us?

I am a peninsula.

My waters are finite and land to which I am tethered cannot be just anywhere. My boat is not welcome at all docks. And, frankly I am tired of people’s bullshit. I am tired of hate mail and being called a monkey and famous people being mad that I retweet them or do not mention them when I should or mention them when I shouldn’t or being told that I am fortunate that I have a job but also that I do not deserve my job. And, also, my nose is big, my ass is fat, my work is meaningless, black men are kings, black women are bitches but also superheroes but aren’t those the same thing so which one am I? Just generally tired.
The name of her new offering has a meaning that I am just learning from her:
Historically, [the first and fifteenth] were the dates that cash transfer payments (or “welfare”) were issued in major cities like New York. That is how the bi-monthly cycle became hip-hop lingo for the moments of possibility that punctuate days of precarity and hustle.

The first and the fifteenth are hopeful days, when we stop to assess who we might be if we did not have to pay the bills or fight the good fight. That’s what we do here. Pause. Reflect. Think. Smark. Refuel.
I'll be subscribing and reading.

No comments: