Carolyn Bryant Lied and Emmet Till was Murdered

Last fall, I sat on the front porch of what’s left of the Bryant General Store. I was there for a good long time, staring at the bare fields across Money Road and thinking about what happened here. I read the plaque and sat at the roadside thinking.

Now, this.

But as Carolyn became reflective in Timothy Tyson’s presence, wistfully volunteering, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.” She also admitted she “felt tender sorrow,” Tyson would note, “for Mamie Till-Mobley”—Emmett Till’s mother, who died in 2003 after a lifetime spent crusading for civil rights. (She had bravely insisted that her son’s casket remain open at his funeral in order to show America what had been done to him.) “When Carolyn herself [later] lost one of her sons, she thought about the grief that Mamie must have felt and grieved all the more.” Tyson does not say whether Carolyn was expressing guilt. Indeed, he asserts that for days after the murders, and until the trial, she was kept in seclusion by her husband’s family. But that “tender sorrow” does sound, in its way, like late-blooming regret.

How Author Timothy Tyson Found the Woman at the Center of the Emmett Till Case

Cash for Words: A Brief History of Writing for Money

Money taints everything, why not writing too? Once its value is determined by the marketplace rather than the writer or the reader, our relationship to literature becomes estranged. From bloated celebrity advances to rejected masterpieces, the market is more than just a poor arbiter of lasting quality: it tends to obscure that quality behind purely economic motivations. Good writing, we’re told time and time again, is born from love, not avarice. But this romantic picture of the writer, toiling without regard to money, is itself a fiction—one whose roots stretch back several millennia, and whose effects we’re still dealing with today.

Writing is a job, yo. On New Republic.

Mecca for hipsters — but only if they’re white.

“I think that Portland has, in many ways, perfected neoliberal racism,” Walidah Imarisha, an African American educator and expert on black history in Oregon, told me. Yes, the city is politically progressive, she said, but its government has facilitated the dominance of whites in business, housing, and culture. And white-supremacist sentiment is not uncommon in the state. Imarisha travels around Oregon teaching about black history, and she says neo-Nazis and others spewing sexually explicit comments or death threats frequently protest her events.

The Racist History of Portland, the Whitest City in America

Everyone’s an Expert

All it took was a candidate to come along too inexperienced to avoid making policy gaffes, at least gaffes that violate received wisdom, with voters too uninformed to see the violations. Usually, those candidates make their mistakes off in some youthful election to their state legislature, or in small-town mayoral race or contest for class president. It’s not a surprise that someone trying out a brand new career at the presidential level would make gaffes that voters, in a rebellious mood, would forgive but more likely not even see.


The Psychological Quirk That Explains Why You Love Donald Trump

In the run up to the election, I asked a red state friend what people were saying about why they wouldn’t vote for Hillary. “Bengazi,” he said, “they all talk about Bengazi.”

I realized how little I knew about Benghazi. After we’d had our beers, I went to read up on what happened there and why Hillary is to blame. I do not have enough military logistics experience to understand what the correct action should be when your foreign compound is under siege, so I could not be critical of the results, tragic as they were.

As syndromes go, I have imposter in spades. Less so Dunning-Kruger.

“I didn’t allow any hatred to grow. But I don’t blame those who did.”

“There are fewer and fewer survivors left to speak about what only they can know. It is all the more important, then, that they bear witness to a truth that so many do not want to hear. Not sentimentally, or morbidly, not with self-pity or in expectation of praise or admiration, but with the strength of certainty. After a while there is nothing left you have to prove. There you stand, and your resolution is your truth; let the malicious and the jealous of heart deny you as they will.”

Surviving the Holocaust on The Guardian

Roxanne Gay Talks with Madonna

Madonna has no patience for bad wine. I learned this while sitting in a well-appointed living room at her New York City home, with Nina Simone playing softly in the background. I must tell you, Madonna’s house smells amazing—something delicious, maybe roasted chicken, was cooking in a kitchen elsewhere in the manse, and there was a gentle fragrance in the air, jasmine, perhaps.

That’s just the opening paragraph. What a joy to read.

Madonna’s Spring Awakening by Roxanne Gay on Bazaar

Old Dirt “In the olden…

Old Dirt

“In the olden days, they would hit a vein of clay and just dig up a big hole and keep makin’ pots with it—leaving a hole in the road. That’s why they call it a pot hole! So we gotta fill ‘em back in afterwards,” explains Josh, now ready to harvest the clay. He sticks his shovel into the ground, then stands on the metal edge like an Olympic diver, ready for take off. He pushes the steel blade into the earth and sways on the handle, cleaving into the ground. Then he lifts a chunk of pure blue clay. It’s a handsome lump that smells like mushrooms, muskrats, and wet bark. — Old Dirt, Andrew Evans, Letters from Earth

I enjoyed this love letter to North Carolina — and a guy who makes art from its soil.