What I Read This Week: Coping Through Clothing, “Girls” and Racial Representation, and “How America Fails Black Girls”

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Photo by Girls HBO

This week’s readings include very moving essay that was published on GQ.com, in which a writer discusses how he coped with his mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer, a relocation to Los Angeles and more through clothing. I’ve always been critical of the racial diversity on “Girls.” In its final season, there is still much criticism about how the show never really got representation right. The essay below grapples with the show’s racial representation as perpetuating tropes of minorities. One of my favorite writers, Morgan Jerkins, penned an essay on the missing black girls in DC last week, making the case that it is high time white women show up for black women in a real way. Outside of essays, I’ve also included two poems featured on Buzzfeed this week, in which a poet grapples with the painting of Emmett Till featured at the Whitney Biennial.

Share! And have a great week!

How Clown Pants Saved My Life

We were strangers to each other but I quickly laid it out for Hiroki, the reason I’d come. The rootlessness, formlessness of Los Angeles. My mother on the mend, my family trying to make sense of the void we’d all just glimpsed. My new wife and I, trying to learn how to be good to each other. Our new president, hours away from the oath of office. The foreboding everyone I knew felt. The sense of powerlessness. How do we take care of ourselves when the world won’t take care of us? You could already tell we were entering a year of psychic trauma, and I wanted to hear that there were things I could do to mitigate that, things I could wear to increase my resolve.

“Girls” Has Gotten Less White, But Not In a Good Way

Still, the consequences of relying on this trope are minority characters who are so shoddily developed that their inclusion is not a boon, but rather a regression. The solution? Either embrace the verisimilitude of white hipster New York — because after all, even if there are white New Yorkers who see ethnic minorities as “supporting characters” in real life, those minorities would never be as blindly invested in white strangers’ lives as the supporting characters of color on Girls — or hunker down and create POC who do more than give sage advice, make sassy clapbacks, serve as mute comic relief, and then promptly disappear.

How America Fails Black Girls

It is exhausting to see black people, particularly black women, always having to do the work to change society. Queer black women began the Black Lives Matter movement and put their lives on the line to stand up against police brutality. Black women overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton even when she was more of the patron saint of mainstream feminism than of issues regarding women of color. Today it is black women who are forcing others to see what’s happening with missing black girls. Now is the time to come through for us. We have always come through for you.

Two Poems About a Controversial Emmett Till Painting

In paint you’re still pulling him

out of the river. Still taking the skin

off (again) with a bullet brush. Here is the head

his mother stared at, staring back

at your broken colors. Bruise as palette, as figure.

 

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