• With reproductive rights, voting rights, and democracy itself under attack in the United States, organizers say they’re exhausted and burnt out, according to a new poll. This is concerning because they’re dearly needed during this perilous moment in American history. But on the other end of the political spectrum, conservatives feel reinvigorated by the revocation of Roe v. Wade and prospects of scoring a victory in the upcoming midterm elections. Eoin Higgins writes for the Nation:

Fatigue is a major challenge facing organizers around the country, according to new polling from the group re:power. The poll, conducted by researchers Sam Gass and Maya Gutierrez, surveyed 349 organizers from across the country, asking them to list short-, medium-, and long-term concerns. The poll found that burnout, low pay, and institutional barriers to seizing power make up a trifecta of issues facing organizers at all time scales.

Karundi Williams, re:power’s executive director, says the poll should be understood as a devastating critique of the state of organizing. “We’re losing organizers, period, from the movement because of burnout,” she told me. “It’s a big fundamental problem.”

This, in my view, is another alarming sign of the weakening of American democracy. Here’s more from Higgins’s report:

Instability is not just a short-term problem among organizers. It leads to compounding problems with how political organizing works for the public and for staff. While a majority of the re:power poll’s respondents said they expected to still be in the field within six months to a year, only 32 percent believed they’d still be organizing in five years—a serious brain drain. Staff turnover presents organizers with more hurdles to overcome, leading to inconsistency both in the office and on the street. It’s hard to convince people of your mission when the faces of the movement keep changing.

Grueling hours are seldom offset by high compensation. According to data from ZipRecruiter, well over half of people in the field can expect to make between $18,500 and $34,000 annually—or between $9.49 and $17.44 an hour. Brandi Hernandez, an organizer in Wisconsin with the nonprofit Leaders Igniting Transformation, told me that she now works at an organization with adequate pay, but most people in the industry aren’t so lucky. She said organizers, faced with the crush of low income and high costs of living, are often forced to find supplemental jobs.

“Anyone that’s an organizer needs a livable wage, because it is exhausting work,” Hernandez said, adding, “I’ve met organizers who do organizing, and then on top of that they have a side hustle. They’re out bartending or doing something else too.”

  • Parents worldwide use a universal language while speaking to their babies, a cross-cultural study determined. The researchers also came up with a name for it: “parentese.” Oliver Whang reports for the New York Times:

The results, published recently in the journal Nature Human Behavior, showed that in every one of these cultures, the way parents spoke and sang to their infants differed from the way they communicated with adults — and that those differences were profoundly similar from group to group.

“We tend to speak in this higher pitch, high variability, like, ‘Ohh, heeelloo, you’re a baaybee!’” said Courtney Hilton, a psychologist at Haskins Laboratories at Yale University and a principal author of the study. Cody Moser, a graduate student studying cognitive science at the University of California, Merced, and the other principal author, added: “When people tend to produce lullabies or tend to talk to their infants, they tend to do so in the same way.”

The findings suggest that baby talk and baby song serve a function independent of cultural and social forces. They lend a jumping off point for future baby research and, to some degree, tackle the lack of diverse representation in psychology. To make cross-cultural claims about human behavior requires studies from many different societies. Now, there is a big one.

  • Love TikToker @danielarabalais‘s witty parodies addressing the cultural appropriation of Mexican cuisine by corporate America:
@danielarabalais

If BIPOC appropriated foods like ⚪️ people do to our cultural foods 😂 #culturalappropriation #spawater #bipoc #foodtiktok

♬ original sound – Daniela Rabalais

Here’s another one from Rabalais:

@danielarabalais

Make sure you tag me if you try this at home! 🥰🥰🤣 #culturalappropriation #spawater #bipoc #foodtiktok

♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim
  • A new study by Nielsen found that disability representation in film and TV has increased but still falls short. It reads:

Today, people with disabilities are 34% more likely than the general population to feel there isn’t enough inclusion of their identity group in media, and more than half say the portrayals they see inaccurately represent their individual identity groups. For perspective, 26% of the U.S. population is living with disabilities.

[…]

The volume of disability-inclusive content has increased over time, albeit from a very low base. About a century ago, there was only one video production featuring a disability theme. Since then, disability inclusion has grown, peaking in 2019, when 518 productions were released. Through this year, 6,895 video titles have disability thematic attributes, but that represents just 4.22% of the 163,230 titles with descriptor metadata.

  • Annie Leibovitz photographed Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska for Vogue Magazine’s October issue:
  • This one is weird: The global financial consultancy Deloitte released a report estimating the “social asset value” of Rome’s ancient Colosseum at $79 billion. The question is: Why is there a need to put a price tag on the Colosseum? Should we be concerned that Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk might be planning to buy it? The report is in Italian but here’s an explanation by Forbes reporter Tristan Bove:

The Colosseum contributes around 1.39 billion euros (around $1.4 billion) a year to Italy’s GDP from tourism and related activities, in addition to employing around 42,700 full-time staff, according to a new report out this week by financial services company Deloitte.

But the actual value of the monument to Italy, and the financial lengths to which Italians would be willing to protect it, might actually be far higher.

Deloitte’s report, titled “The value of an iconic asset: the economic and social value of the Colosseum,” calculates both the direct value of the historic building to Italy’s economy as well as its social importance or “existence value,” defined as an intangible benefits Italians derive from the Colosseum’s “iconic” and “symbolic” value.

  • Actor Russell Crowe brags about the “special privilege” of receiving a private tour at the Sistine Chapel and defying the Vatican’s prohibition of snapping photos inside:
  • Angela Davis, Mariame Kaba, and Ruth Wilson Gilmore are among 200+ abolitionists who signed a statement against New York City’s proposal to open a new jail for “women and gender-expansive people” in Harlem, promoted by some as a “feminist jail.” The statement reads:

We insist on the need to be free of the violence — which includes community separation — that defines incarceration and reject the contention that gender oppressed people are only deserving of a prison of their own. We know this plan, like other efforts to repackage incarceration as humane and progressive, does not chart us away from the prison industrial complex. We cannot rely on exchanging COs for social workers.The fight for non-carceral futures and community wellbeing is all the more urgent in the aftermath of the 2020 global rebellions, when municipal, state, and federal agencies have pursued projects to expand carceral capacity, often under the guise of reform.

We reject the rhetoric that a new jail could ever be a model for community development or criminal punishment reform. The plan treats historically Black, Latinx, and working-class neighborhoods as the ideal settings for jails. Most of those who would be sent to this “Women’s Center for Justice” are Black and Latinx survivors of gendered violence and systemic racism. The plan therefore perpetuates a racial geography and history of of violence at a time when the city and state of New York have pushed forward austerity measures despite residents of these neighborhoods calling for local, life-sustaining initiatives: access to affordable and quality food, housing, healthcare and childcare, funding for transportation and public education, and truly transformative and reparative responses to interpersonal harm.

  • This Texas mom is angry at her son’s high school for teaching him about the “anti-free market,” “pro-George Floyd” street artist Banksy in art class:
  • And finally, have you noticed that everything around you is looking more grey? Check out this informative thread:

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, 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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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

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