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Weekly Reading: Best longreads on the web

Saturday 30th September 2017

Our weekly recap highlighting the best feature stories from around the internet.


Doreen St. Félix writes for The New Yorker this week about the meteoric rise of rapper Cardi B.

Photo: AFP

Cardi B, the Female Rapper Who Ousted Taylor Swift From the Top of the Charts, by Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker

“The phenomenon of Cardi B is just that: an anomaly in the culture rather than a confirmation of it. She threatens the rules. New York City long ago ceded its rap dominance to the South, but in “Bodak Yellow” Cardi B, a proud uptown kid, does a martial riff on an old flow of the Floridian rapper Kodak Black’s. Gloating young male rappers like Black and xxxTentacion are currently scaling the heights of Internet-based popularity while being openly abusive to women; Cardi B is open about the abusive relationships she has endured, and what she has had to do to get out of them. To male rappers, the strip club is a temple, an affirmation of their prowess; Cardi B turned the strip club into a site of feminine ingenuity.”

Black Athletes Are Black People, And Black People Are Dying, by Bryan Washington, Buzzfeed

“Black people are being killed in the streets, in their cars, and in their homes, and black athletes are using their platforms to magnify this, because that is, ultimately, the only way many Americans will care. And that’s a scary thing for the coaches and the administrations and the sponsors and the fans, and perhaps white people in general, because that’s when the veil is lifted. “Our problems” are no longer our problems. Our problems become their problems, become your problems too.”

Mana Wāhine: the Invisible Homeless Mothers of New Zealand, by Tess McClure, Vice

“When women do choose to leave, if they're in a Housing New Zealand property, they're taken off the lease, and have to re-enter the waiting list from the bottom. Even for women who are considered top priority—those who face an immediate threat to their physical safety—will be spending weeks on the waiting list. The fastest wait time she's seen recently was six weeks, but most are more in the realm of six months. In the private rental market, she says, things are more difficult still. Single mums are close to the bottom rung of preferred tenants: they tend to have fixed incomes, high costs, many have few or no references, and may struggle to meet the traditional four weeks' bond plus letting fee.”

The Repressive Authoritarian Soul of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, by Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker

“It is clear from his work that Awdry disliked change, venerated order, and craved the administration of punishment. Henry wasn’t the only train to receive a death sentence. In one episode, a manager tells a showoff engine named Smudger that he’s going to “make him useful at last,” and then turns Smudger into a generator, never to move again. (There are several “R.I.P. Smudger” tribute videos on YouTube.) In another episode, a double-decker bus named Bulgy comes to the station and talks about revolution—“Free the roads from railway tyranny!” he cries. He is quickly labelled a “scarlet deceiver,” trapped under a bridge, and turned into a henhouse.”

The Untold Story of Kim Jong-nam’s Assassination, by Doug Bock Clark, GQ

‘“The first four times Indonesian officials visited Siti after the arrest, she thought that being in jail was part of the prank,” said Andreano Erwin, the acting Indonesian ambassador in Malaysia, when I met him at his embassy. Because she did not follow the news, she had no idea anyone had died at the airport, according to her attorney. For Siti, it had just been another normalized prank. “The first time we visited her, she kept asking when she could leave the jail. The second, she complained that she still hadn't been paid for the last prank. The third time, she accused us of being part of the prank. The fourth time, we showed her a newspaper proving Kim Jong-nam had died. When she saw it, she started to cry.”’

I Tried to Fight Racism by Being a "Model Minority" — and Then It Backfired, by Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Teen Vogue

“I thought that I'd ticked all the boxes to become credible in the eyes of those in power. I thought my achievements could change people’s expectations of Muslims, and of Muslim women in particular. Maybe it would show them that their assumptions were wrong. Maybe that would lead them to realize that people who were different were still worthy, equal, and to be taken seriously. I thought that achieving a lot meant people in power, especially those who had racist or sexist views, would listen to me. Take me seriously. Believe in what I had to say. Now, I could make change from within, because I was part of the club, right? Not quite.”

How Fake News Turned a Small Town Upside Down, by Caitlin Dickerson, The New York Times

“The next day, Camille Barigar, the mayor’s wife, arrived in her office at the college, where she ran the performing-arts center, and started listening to her voice mail. In a calm, measured voice, a man who sounded as if he was reading from a script went on for nearly four minutes. “I wonder, Miss Barigar, if your residence was posted online and your whereabouts identified, how you would feel if half a dozen Muslim men raped and sodomized you, Miss Barigar, and when you tried to scream, broke every tooth in your mouth,” he said. “And then I wonder how you’d feel if, when you went to the Twin Falls Police Department, they told you to run along, that this is simply cultural diversity.”’

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