I’m going to tell you a secret.
Since I was young, maybe 8 or 10 years old, I’ve never had a male role model.
To be clear, I did grow up with a father. My parents never split, and while they had their issues – I wondered at times if they should have divorced – for the most part I grew up in a stable environment. I disagreed with my dad (and still do) on plenty of things, but generally we get along and have made our peace on most of the details. Of course, I would do it differently if I had children…perhaps that’s a fairly standard response considering the generational gap (I’m 29, my dad is 72).
But, when I think about men I admired growing up there is an empty space.
Searching for role models
My dad taught me some important things, like the value of hard…
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To quote the great Eddie Izzard:
When you Americans landed on the moon, that was the point when God should have come up and said “hello.” Because if you invent some creatures and you put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, then you f*cking turn up and say, “Well done.” It’s just a polite thing to do.
— Jackson Williams.
In the garden of money
In the jazz music world there has been a steady deterioration of the artist’s economy for at least forty years. This decline began with desegregation and rising real estate costs. The traditional Black communities where jazz began, developed and flourished got colonized and absorbed into the wider marketplace. Just as it became more and more expensive to keep a neighborhood club open, it became more and more difficult to integrate what will never be a ‘popular’ music into the mainstream economy. With the advent of the internet, the physical product of LPs and CDs virtually disappeared. 10 years ago I was talking to the brilliant composer and musician George Lewis about the exciting possibilities of internet distribution. He said, “Yes, but the problem will be the same. How will people know about me?”
The scale and nature of internet distribution means that with…
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Privacy is a wonderful and complex thing. To my mind, it should operate on a sliding scale under the individual’s control: total privacy for those who want to research information for themselves or communicate in confidence with others, through partial privacy for those willing to exchange personal data for convenient services, down to zero privacy for those who want to strut their stuff in public.
The partial or total surrender of privacy is familiar to us through our transactions with the likes of Google(s goog) and our use of platforms such as Twitter. That’s fine, as long as the individual chooses to surrender their personal data. But I’d like to dwell for a moment on the concept of total privacy, and why it should be an option even in the online age.
Privacy means different things in different cultures, and the western understanding of privacy is largely a…
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Rilla Askew | 2014 | 21 minutes (5,065 words)
When my godson Trey was a toddler growing up in Brooklyn, every white woman who saw him fell in love with him. He was a beautiful child, sweet natured, affectionate, with cocoa-colored skin and a thousand-watt smile. I remember sitting with him and his mom in a pizzeria one day, watching as he played peekaboo with two white ladies at a nearby booth. “What a little doll!” the ladies cooed. “Isn’t he adorable?”
I told Marilyn I dreaded the day he would run up against some white person’s prejudice. “His feelings are going to be hurt,” I said. “He won’t know it’s about this country’s race history, he’ll think it’s about him. Because so far in his young life every white person he’s ever met has adored him.” Marilyn nodded, but her closed expression seemed to say I was talking about…
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