Laura Mvula hasn’t released an album in five years and clearly she’s been saving every ounce of energy for Pink Noise. This album is what the ‘80s wish they could be, penned in the UK through a rush of adrenaline a contemporary sense of rhythm. You can easily blast through in a sitting (yes, even if you’re working) but if you have time for just a taste, do yourself a solid and turn on “Conditional.” It opens in a sort of suspended twilight before a dark beat starts revving you towards a monotone narrative: “Another blow to the ego / A victim of conditional love.” But the darkness doesn’t last long— Mvula is just feeding on it to build her power. The line, “I don’t cry no tears for you” catapults you into a big, sparkly wall of sound— a visceral thrill that carries you through the next stretch of darkness. It’s hard to find such a finely engineered emotional rollercoaster. Hop on.
Last week, mid-rolling-heat-wave, I saw this headline about how we shouldn’t be using air conditioning any more, and I did not want to hear it. “How about you turn off Times Square,” I said. “Close Amazon for a day.” Anything to avoid putting the systemic weight of climate change on the individual (particularly given that some will die if they turn off their air conditioners). Then I actually read the article, and, man... Turns out refrigerants are the single largest contributor to climate change: they emit much more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide, and even though we outlawed production of the worst ones in the ’80s to protect the ozone, we’re still using the leftovers— and other slightly “better” chemicals that are still messing with the planet. “That we’re turning toward more ecologically responsible refrigerants or more energy-efficient technologies hardly comforts me,” wrote Eric Dean Wilson in his essay (which is actually adapted from an entire book). “We still fail to consider the stakes of our personal comfort, how and why we arrived here, and how our thinking might lead us into further danger.” TRUER WORDS, ERIC.
Are we all following the Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure drama? NO?
You probably know NHJ as the queen goddess in charge of the New York Times’ 1619 Project. She talks all the time about how she studied journalism at UNC, and they have so far loved claiming her as a grad. Lately, she’s been up for a professor job there that had come with pretty much automatic tenure for every (white) professor who’d held it before. But none of those people had reframed U.S. history around the instigation of slavery, had they? The predictable conservative backlash to Hannah-Jones’ candidacy convinced UNC to deny her tenure, a decision they reversed this week after a bunch of liberal counter-protest. But you know what? She said no.
Instead, she’ll be joining Howard University as the inaugural Knight Chair of Race Reporting. “I spent my entire life proving that I belonged in elite white spaces that were not built for Black people,” she said. “I got a lot of clarity through what happened with the University of North Carolina. I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore.”
Lest we forget, Pulitzer/MacArthur winner has options.
Since we’re packing a week’s worth of content into just one issue, I’ll leave you with one more hefty morsel in Business Insider’s Inequity Receipt. This new series “examines the historical causes, current policies and societal norms that perpetuate unfair, avoidable differences for marginalized groups” — and it counts the costs of those differences. For example, did you know that “the lack of diversity in the drug industry’s CEO ranks costs women an estimated $532 million a year”? Or that “the correctional telecom sector generates $1.4B in phone call revenue annually,” deepening the racial wealth gap? Head in and click around, and make sure to catch the piece by my friend Stephanie Russell-Kraft on the way diversity in the judiciary impacts how cases are decided. Would you say we maybe owe Nikole Hannah-Jones for this kind of project?