The Other Side of the Tracks

How railroads, highways and other man-made lines racially divide America’s cities.

Shreveport, La.

“Look at racial maps of many American cities, and stark boundaries between neighboring black and white communities frequently denote an impassable railroad or highway, or a historically uncrossable avenue. Infrastructure has long played this role: reinforcing unspoken divides, walling off communities, containing their expansion, physically isolating them from schools or parks or neighbors nearby.”

The Invisible Backpack of White Privilege

From McSweeney’s:

The Invisible Backpack of White Privilege is pretty decent, I guess. I’ve had one as long as I can remember. My parents said it just showed up in the mail when I was born, and L.L. Bean’s policy is to replace the backpack for free if it ever breaks, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. It’s $8 extra to get your initials monogrammed, which I personally think should be free of charge. The backpack comes in different colors, more recently Irish, Italian, and Buffalo Plaid.

The Invisible Backpack of White Privilege is great for carrying questionable things like weed, Ponzi schemes, and sex crimes. I have lived in dense urban areas my whole life, and the cops never once search my Invisible Backpack. Then again, that’s probably just because, like people always tell me, I have a really trustworthy vibe as a person.

Fear & The Ferguson Verdict

In the minutes leading up to the verdict of the Grand Jury in Ferguson–on whether or not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed Black teen Michael Brown–I can’t help but to hear these lyrics in mead, from The Temper Trap’s “Science of Fear”, excerpted here:

Black smoke

Red sky

The television’s sayin’

Downhill

Head on another crash is comin’

Downhill

Head on another crash is comin’

Move

Or watch the murder of you way of life

There’s a science to fear

It plagues my mind

And it keeps us right here

And the less we know

The more we sit still

My baby’s stuck on a road

That leads to nowhere

Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere, nowhere.

Notes on the Exotic by Andrea Lee

Notes on the Exotic

I was in Copenhagen last week, reveling in the exoticism. Mouse-blond hair, sea-glass eyes; tall Vikings cycling along, with their fresh complexions and stubby boots. Wearing stripes and eating shrimp on black bread. Looking patient, civilized, sturdy and weathered, with a touch of glorious paganism under the surface. Privy to the great magnetic secrets of the boreal realm. Sexy: so cold and well meaning and white. Mysterious: the real reason that I devour all that generally disappointing Scandinavian noir. While they were busy looking at me and savoring the imaginary fire under my swarthy skin and kinky hair, I was busy enjoying my fantasies about them.