Best Reads Week 8.25.2012

Image via Terretta


Since I haven’t done this in a couple weeks, and I’ve spent several nights of the past week up late, eyes glued to my computer screen, it’s time to share the week’s best reads, and one video.

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates hit the nail on the head with “Fear of a Black President.” Part history lesson (both recent and extended past), part psychological examination and part personal experience, he explains why it’s accurate to access why conservatives’ rabid backlash against President Obama is more about anger that a black man has ascended to a white man’s office than it is about objection to his progressive policy.

When the audio of this episode of Bill Moyer’s aired Monday night, I was riveted. Had I been in the car, I wouldn’t have been able to exit the vehicle. Kalil Gibrand Muhammad gives us a clear look at America’s history of white supremacy, explains how it continues to impact us and makes the importance of knowing that history clear. I heard this on Monday and read Coates’ article on Friday, after hearing about Romney going birther. If I didn’t work part time in an institute devoted to the legacy of a southern white woman who got what Coates and Muhammad are saying long before either was born, and who spent her life fighting for racial and social justice, I would believe there was no hope.

What these women in Rwanda endured during the genocide continues to haunt them as they raise the children conceived from rape. This is a photo essay, and what strikes me is how little some of the children resemble their mothers. The women featured were gang raped, repeatedly, but some surely can pinpoint who fathered their children simply by looking at the child’s face.

Back in the U.S., Shauna Prewitt was also raped and conceived a child as a result. And then her attacker tried to sue her for custody of their daughter. This is a good example of why slut shaming and sexual double standards are harmful for reasons beyond the obvious. Rape is the most under-reported crime, and women often don’t report it because a court of law will try to expose all the ways she was asking for it. And when women go forward with charges anyway, charges don’t always result in prosecution and prosecution rarely results in conviction. No conviction means innocence in our justice system, and that means a rapist could be seen as a fit parent. Attackers can also use the threat of a custody battle to keep rape victims from ever pressing charges.

That and this are why women telling their own stories is so important.

Finally, because I’ve heard from several social justice activists I respect and admire that this was good, and they were encouraged, I’ll ad my latest op-ed to the week’s best, even as I admit it’s not at the level of this must-read that takes the black community to task for its victim-blaming habits.

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