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Children take a break in one of the usual spaces at Anandaloy center in Bangladesh. The design by Studio Anna Heringer used rammed earth, made with mud from local ponds, for many of the main elements in the design, including the walls and a ramp that wraps around the building. Bamboo from a local forest was used to create a veranda around the building and for its ceilings and roof. The architect is quoted as saying she wants to make “decomposable buildings.” More images and info at the OBEL Award website. (photo © Kurt Hoerbst and courtesy OBEL Award)

We are living through a historic, technology-fueled shift in the balance of power between the media and its subjects. The subjects are winning. The internet in general — and social media platforms in particular — have destroyed one of the media’s most important sources of power: being the only place that could offer access to an audience. When Musk can say whatever he wants to 40 million Twitter followers at any time with no filter, it is little surprise that he does not feel compelled to listen to unpleasant questions from some reporter who wants to know why he busts unions and wildly accuses people of pedophilia.

As journalists, we all view this as a horrifying assault on the public’s right to know, and on our own status as brave defenders of the public good. And that is all true, for what it’s worth. But this is about power. We need to take some back, lest the rich and powerful run away from one of the last forces restraining them.

Despite making advances in recent years, the presence of Black, Latinx, Asian and Indigenous staff at many institutions, especially in the curatorial and leadership ranks, remains slim.

According to a survey published by the Mellon Foundation in 2018, 16% of curatorial staffs are people of color (the term used in the data). Those figures don’t come close to reflecting the demographics of the U.S. — which is about 40% people of color, according to recent census estimates. And it certainly doesn’t come close to reflecting the diversity of U.S. urban areas, where many major museums are located.

  • Anne Anlin Cheng, who many people may know because of her excellent book Ornamentalism, has written a fascinating essay about interracial love for the Nation:

For many immigrant communities, marriage within one’s ethnic group ensures cultural and familial continuity in the face of fragmenting, geographic dispersal. Here, then, is the double bind for the racialized minority: Marrying out means selling out, while marrying in can feel like giving in to conservative familial demands on the one hand and xenophobic prohibition on the other. Only within the peculiarities of American racial dynamics can traditional, racist white anxiety about miscegenation find a ready ally with traditional Asian family values. Both sides apply patriarchal and racial restrictions within which the Asian American woman must navigate.

Love can be challenging. Add being Asian and a woman in America, and you get a vexing picture. As Cathy Park Hong sums it up in her recent book Minor Feelings, “In the popular imagination, Asian Americans inhabit a purgatorial space…distrusted by African Americans, ignored by whites, unless we are being used by whites to keep the black man down.” Used as pawns in the game of racial divisiveness, Asian Americans are often despised for their reputed adjacency to whiteness and economic privileges. In a 2012 study, psychologist Susan Fiske showed that most Americans rate Asians and Asian Americans as highly “competent” or “intelligent,” but almost all found the latter to be “cold” or “not warm”—that is, unloved and unlovable. The result is not surprising, especially since the very terms of the survey (competence and likability) already scripted the limited grounds on which Asianness gets judged.

The proper term is “dispronunciation.” Consider that misinformation is information that merely happens to be false, whereas disinformation is false information purposely spread. Similarly, mispronunciation is people trying too feebly and in vain to say our names — and dispronunciation is people saying our names incorrectly on purpose, as if to remind us whose country this really is.

Mispronunciation is a matter of limited tongues. Dispronunciation is a matter of limited hearts. For as long as I can remember, I have had to navigate around the shortcomings of both organs.

Birnie isn’t alone. The nebulous, mysterious nature of the character’s origin has opened a door for fans to graft new identities onto the toy foundlings they have “adopted” as their own. Across social media, these “Mommalorians” live out their lives with Baby Yoda, and attach their own personalities onto the doll’s open face. For some, Baby Yoda dresses in bucket hats and dinosaur pajamas. For others, he loves chicken nuggets from McDonald’s. For still others, he’s a competitor in a Baby Yoda-themed version of The Bachelor, where every competitor is, you guessed it, Baby Yoda. For a group of California firefighters, he’s even become an unlikely mascot. For everyone, he is very, very cute.

  • The news that the Trump administration is unable to reunite 545 migrant children with their parents is really troubling. LA Times journalist Esmeralda Bermudez writes about her own experience when she was separated from her mom. It’s always good to remember the human factor, and I recommend reading the whole thread:
  • Last week’s Saturday Night Live had a joke about the Philip Guston exhibition delay. It’s cute, not great, but I thought you’d all want to hear it. It’s at the 01:48 mark:

Required Reading is published every Saturday, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

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