required reading

  • With reproductive rights, voting rights and democracy itself under attack in the United States, organizers say they are exhausted and burned out, according to a new poll. This is concerning because they are sorely needed at this perilous moment in American history. But at the other end of the political spectrum, conservatives feel reinvigorated by the repeal Roe v. calf and prospects for victory in the upcoming midterm elections. Eoin Higgins writes for the nation:

Fatigue is a major challenge for organizers across the country, according to a new survey by group re:power. Conducted by researchers Sam Gass and Maya Gutierrez, the poll asked 349 organizers from across the country to list short-, medium- and long-term concerns. The survey found that burnout, low pay, and institutional barriers to power grabs represent a trifecta of problems organizers face across all timescales.

Karundi Williams, executive director of re:power, says the poll should be taken as a devastating critique of the state of organising. “We’re losing organizers from the movement because of burnout, period,” she told me. “It’s a big underlying problem.”

I think this is another alarming sign of the weakening of American democracy. Here’s more from Higgins’ report:

Instability isn’t just a short-term problem for event organizers. It exacerbates problems of how political organizing works for the public and for employees. While the majority of re:power survey respondents said they expected to still be in the field within six months to a year, only 32 percent believed they would still be organizers five years from now – a serious one brain drain. Staff turnover presents organizers with another hurdle to overcome, leading to disagreements both in the office and on the street. It’s hard to convince people of your mission when the faces of the movement are constantly changing.

Stressful hours are rarely compensated by high pay. Corresponding Data from ZipRecruiter, well over half of people in this field can expect to make between $18,500 and $34,000 a year — or between $9.49 and $17.44 an hour. Brandi Hernandez, a Wisconsin organizer with the nonprofit Leaders Igniting Transformation, told me that while she now works at an organization that pays decently, most people in the industry aren’t so lucky. She said organizers are often forced to find additional jobs given the pressure of low incomes and the high cost of living.

“Anyone who is an organizer needs a decent wage because it’s exhausting work,” Hernandez said, adding, “I’ve met organizers who organize and then they have a side job. They work as bartenders or do something else.”

  • According to a cross-cultural study, parents around the world use a universal language when speaking to their babies. The researchers also found a name for it: “Parentese”. Oliver Whang reports for the New York Times:

The findings, recently published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, showed that in each of these cultures, the way parents talked and sang to their infants differed from the way they communicated with adults — and that these group-to-group differences were profoundly similar.

“We tend to speak in this higher pitch, with high variability, like, ‘Ohh, heeelloo, you’re a baaybee!'” said Courtney Hilton, a psychologist at Haskins Laboratories at Yale University and lead author of the study. Cody Moser, a graduate student studying cognitive science at the University of California, Merced, and the other lead author, added, “When people tend to produce lullabies or talk to their infants, they tend to do so at the same way. ”

The results suggest that baby talk and song serve a function independent of cultural and social forces. They provide a starting point for future baby research and to some extent address the lack of diverse representation in psychology. Making cross-cultural claims about human behavior requires studies from many different societies. Now there is a big one.

  • Dear tik tokers @danielarabalais‘s address witty parodies the cultural appropriation of Mexican cuisine by American corporations:

Here’s another one from Rabalais:

  • A new study by Nilsen found that the representation of people with disabilities in film and television has increased but is still insufficient. It is reading:

Today, people with disabilities are 34% more likely than the general population to feel that their identity groups are underrepresented in the media, and more than half say the portrayals they see inaccurately represent their individual identity groups. For comparison, 26% of the US population lives with disabilities.


The volume of accessible content has increased over time, albeit from very low levels. About a century ago there was only one video production on disability. Since then, inclusion of people with disabilities has grown, peaking in 2019 when 518 productions were released. This year, 6,895 video titles have disability thematic attributes, but that’s only 4.22% of the 163,230 titles with descriptor metadata.

  • Annie Leibovitz photographed Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska for Vogue Magazine’s October issue:
  • This one is weird: Global financial advisor Deloitte released a report Estimate the “social asset” of Rome’s ancient Colosseum at $79 billion. The question is: why does the Colosseum need to be price tagged? Should we be worried that Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk might be Are you planning to buy it? The report is in Italian, but here is an explanation from forbes Reporter Tristan Bove:

According to a new report released this week by a financial services firm, the Colosseum contributes about 1.39 billion euros (about $1.4 billion) to Italy’s GDP annually through tourism and related activities, and employs about 42,700 full-time workers Deloitte.

But the actual value of the monument to Italy, and the financial expense Italians would be willing to protect it, may actually be much higher.

Deloitte’s reporttitled “The value of an iconic asset: the economic and social value of the Colosseum”, calculates both the historic building’s direct value to the Italian economy and its social importance or “existence value”, defined as an intangible benefit to Italians themselves from the “iconic” and “symbolic” value of the Colosseum.

  • Actor Russell Crowe boasts about the “special privilege” of being given a private tour of the Sistine Chapel and flouting the Vatican’s ban on taking photos inside:
  • Angela Davis, Mariame Kaba and Ruth Wilson Gilmore are among more than 200 abolitionists issuing a statement opposing New York City’s proposal to open a new prison for “women and gendered people‘ in Harlem, touted by some as a ‘feminist jail’. The explanation is:

We insist on the need to be free from the violence – which includes community segregation – that defines imprisonment and reject the claim that gender-oppressed people deserve only a prison of their own. We know this plan like other efforts to package incarceration as humane and progressive, does not take us away from the prison’s industrial complex. We cannot rely on exchanging COs for social workers. Fighting for a future outside of prison and the well-being of the community is all the more urgent after the global rebellions of 2020, when local, state and federal agencies have implemented projects to expand prison capacity. often under the guise of reform.

We reject the rhetoric that a new prison could ever be a model for community development or criminal punishment reform. The plan historically treats Black, Latinx, and working-class neighborhoods as ideal environments for prisons. Most of those who would be sent to this “Women’s Center for Justice” are Black and Latinx Survivors of gender-based violence and systemic racism. The plan, therefore, continues a racial geography and history of violence at a time when the city and state of New York have pushed austerity measures even as residents of those neighborhoods are demanding local, life-sustaining initiatives: access to affordable and quality food, housing, healthcare and childcare, funding for transportation and public education, and truly transformative and reparative responses to human harm.

  • This Texas mom is furious at her son’s high school for teaching him about “anti-free market,” “pro-George Floyd” street artist Banksy in art class:
  • And finally, have you noticed that everything around you looks grayer? Check out this informative thread:

Essential Reading is published every Thursday afternoon and consists of a short list of art-related links to in-depth articles, videos, blog posts or photo essays worth a second look.


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