Thanks so much to all those who wrote in about your driving test experience. I read every email and even responded to some. It will help the article I’m working on a lot.
One of the greatest services journalistic outlets has done for the American public in recent memory was giving ample, in-depth coverage to the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race riot. It felt like every major publication dedicated at least one feature article to the subject. (I did not; I was too busy writing about the Kerner Report like a fool.) The number of people who seemed to learn about the riot for the first time, and thus get that much closer to a more accurate understanding of our nation’s history, was great to see, especially in light of the ongoing right wing fearmongering over teaching such sensitive topics as “white people often do bad things” in school.
If the subject of late 19th/early 20th century race riots is something you’d like to learn more about, I recommend picking up a biography of Ida B. Wells. I read this one and learned a lot from it.
I wrote a lot about cars. I’m sorry about that.
Traveling Black: A Story of Race and Resistance, Mia Bay. I remember as a kid having a difficult time wrapping my head around the separate but equal concept. If they’re equal, why keep them separate? But if they’re separate and equal, why is that so bad? Nobody ever took it out of its legal abstractions and told me what separate but equal really meant. As I got older I obviously figured it out, but this book added a new and useful dimension. For example, here is a concrete case: separate but equal meant Black people were forced to ride in old wooden rail cars behind big, steel locomotives and in front of new, big, steel passenger cars, so when a crash occurred—which was not rare in the early 20th Century—the old wooden car was crushed to bits. As a result, it was an open, acknowledged fact that nearly all passenger rail fatalities during the Jim Crow era were Black people acting as shock absorbers for the white people. That is separate but equal.
The Year of Peril: America in 1942, Tracy Campbell. This book is packed with absolutely wild information. I could barely put it down because nearly every page had a “they did whaaaat” revelation. All I will say is the whole “America came together to unite and win World War II” narrative you’ve surely been taught or otherwise absorbed is like 75 percent bullshit. Everyone agreed we were fighting “fascism” but people had very different ideas of what fascism was.
Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge, Richard Ovenden. Several bits in here about writers leaving all of their notes and works to a trusted friend to destroy upon their death and their friend just being like “nah.” If I was that dead writer I’d be pretty mad at my friend.
Henry is the neighborhood watch on our block. He patrols most evenings. Here he is sharpening his claws to intimidate potential wrongdoers. He has excellent form.