Being judged for what you read


I hope you are having a great week. Here are this week’s thoughts, links, articles, etc that I would like to share.


fountain pen on black lined paper

A conversation that keeps cropping up in my circles is the importance of education, in particular, at tertiary level, and how that helps you then navigate the world of work. Globally, graduates are coming out of universities with degrees, debt and limited prospects. Having come to writing in a roundabout way, more from doing than studying, I often grapple with my place in this world, especially in relation to who and what I have read. Reading to write.


This sentence from Brian Dillon’s Essayism: On Form, Feeling, and Nonfiction (extract posted on Slate) has me reflecting on writing and reading: “I think what I wanted from writing—from Barthes in particular but others too—was a passage out of the dismal place in which I found myself in my midteens, but also some assurance that the world could not only be recast in words but had been made of language in the first place.”


I’ve been following Mensa Ansah’s career for some years now since I first came across him in the early days of Twitter when we still built relationships on the platform before it became an abyss. I even wrote a short review on his solo project No 1 Mango Street. He recently released his EP Dreamscapes. (Click image to listen)

He says, “The EP Dreamscapes is an opening from the artist’s sleepless mind to a collective state of consciousness that gives clarity to the real world with a broader emotional range.”


For some strange reason, the ice cream truck often drives through my neighbourhood during the day, when kids are at school, at least pre-COVID 19 times. Or during winter days when the last thing on our mind is ice cream. Who knew that the ice cream jingle had racist connotations, particularly from an American perspective. So, the ice cream company Good Humour partnered with Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA to create a new jingle.


Tik Tok is going through the most. I have reached the stage, in my life’s journey, where I struggle to get a handle on all the platforms that keep getting launched. Tik Tok is one of those. My son tried to show me its workings but I have resigned myself to engaging with it only when he shows me videos he thinks are funny.

WIRED September 2020 cover

While it fights for its survival in the US, it has been censoring Black creators and has a problem with cultural appropriation. “Blackness is a proven attention getter. Its adoption is racism, custom-fit.”


Bias and, by extension, prejudice extends beyond us, as human beings, into the systems we create. I randomly had the opportunity to meet Joy Buolamwimi on a trip to Hennessy’s Maison in Cognac, France, and have been fascinated with her work, including with The Algorithmic Justice League, around the bias in the algorithms that increasingly govern our world.


Sisonke Msimang’s book The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela is a must-read for context on a woman who sacrificed a great deal for the liberation of South Africa and was systematically vilified, without consideration for the nuance. I love Msimang’s writing for both her craft and her perspectives, which are both visible in To be a black mother is to manage the rage of others while growing joyous black children. This is no easy task.

That’s it for this week. I hope you are staying safe and healthy. Please share if you enjoyed this newsletter. If it was shared with you and you enjoyed it, please subscribe.



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