In another stunning shot by NASA’s James Webb Telescope, the Pillars of Creation, a gaseous region where new stars in the Eagle Nebula cluster first begin to take shape, stand tall (if that’s something cosmic dust can do) at four or five light-years in distance. Even still, they’re just a drop in the bucket of the larger constellation Serpens, located 348 light-years from Earth. As with so many Webb images from the past few months, the Hubble Telescope first photographed the region in 1995, when scientists chose the grandiose name based on an 1857 English sermon. (image courtesy NASA and STScI)
  • L Autumn Gnadinger & Emily Rice write about some of the lessons people can learn from the Philadelphia Museum of Art union strike:

In Philadelphia, not only is public opinion slanted in favor of workers and workers’ rights, but the city also has a literacy of the basic mechanics of labor advocacy, which may or may not exist in the same way where you live. Education may need to be core to the efforts you are engaged in, in addition to the work of advocacy and negotiation at your workplace itself. For instance, people might not even know exactly what a picket line means, or what it means—functionally and symbolically—to cross or hold one.

  • Former Hyperallergic managing editor Eric Vilas-Boas (who is now an editor at Vulture) wrote about why Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 1/2 didn’t fit the Academy of Motion Pictures’ definition of animation and why the criteria they use is outdated:

This is bad. Not just for Pallotta and Linklater and their movie, but for anyone who hopes that this art form survives beyond the dominance of CGI. Year after year, it feels vanishingly likely that we’ll see new movies like Apollo 10 ½, a feature-length production that, though released by a mega-company of its own in Netflix, looks strikingly different from the mass-marketed CGI that dominates year after year. (Netflix, Linklater said, has “been as supportive as you would expect” of the Oscar bid.) It’s not as if hiring all those 2-D animators was comparatively expensive; they cost Linklater and his producers $20 million, a fraction of what a Pixar or Disney Animation film costs to make. “It should be an exciting time for animation, but there’s just this status quo pressure” to make films according to industry trends, Linklater said. “I just hate that it’s thwarting people’s potential to express themselves in different ways.”

  • Nylah Burton, writing for Andscape, explains why Black Southern cuisine isn’t killing Black people:

Black Southern food is seasonal, healthy, nuanced, and rich with culture and meaning. Systemic racism — in the form of food deserts, stress induced by racial terror, and medical negligence — kills us, not the food made by our people’s experienced and loving hands. The idea that Black food is unhealthy and inferior is rooted in anti-Blackness and prejudice against overweight people. And to understand our food and to fight back against these narratives, we must realize our migrant roots are the key.

  • Dan Mahboubian, one half of comedy duo Cannibal Milkshake with Jeff Ayars, ranks bad-taste art that rich people can’t get enough of, and points were made. Check out part 1:
  • And part 2 (Kusama fans, be warned):

Replying to @stefanigoldfinch part 2 as requested of the overrated art rich people collect #art #arttiktok #arthistory

♬ Picasso Baby – JAY-Z
  • On Wednesday, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus condemned the dire situation in Ethiopia’s conflict-torn Tigray, warning that urgent action was needed to avert “genocide” in the region. Agence France Presse reports:

Tedros, who himself is from the northern region and has repeatedly decried the situation there, said he was “running out of diplomatic language for the deliberate targeting of civilians in Tigray.

“The social fabric is being ripped apart and civilians are paying a horrific price,” he said, insisting that the “hostilities in Tigray must end now, including the immediate withdrawal and disengagement of Eritrean armed forces from Ethiopia.”

  • There is a housing crisis and this graph suggests Airbnb is part of it:
  • One of the most respected “Indigenous” legal scholars in Canada is under fire for allegedly misrepresenting her heritage. A CBC report uncovered the facts around the claims:

Late last year, however, CBC received tips that raised questions about Turpel-Lafond’s claims to Indigenous ancestry.

Indigenous scholars and politicians say there is a growing problem in this country of non-Indigenous people taking away opportunities from First Nations, Métis and Inuit people by improperly claiming Indigenous ancestry.

Questions about Turpel-Lafond’s background have actually followed her for decades. A 1995 profile in the Ottawa Citizen said “she was the target of a whisper campaign during the Charlottetown debate. Indians opposed to the deal said Turpel wasn’t really an Indian.” The reporter added that “during interviews for this profile, more than one person suggested checking into her Indian background.”

CBC decided to undertake an investigation. In the process, it examined records from archives across Canada, including genealogical records, census forms and voter registries, and reviewed more than 100 newspaper, magazine and journal articles and dozens of videos.

  • And Kelly Pollock, a White woman who grew up in an Indigenous community, explains why what Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond did and is doing is harmful to Indigenous communities:

I would not claim connection to a community that my grandfather and father lived in but that I didn’t. As someone raised in an Indigenous community, I gained significant experiences and learnings that make me accountable to Indigenous people. My experiences taught me much about respect, dedication to family, and responsibility to community. As a white person, I grew up knowing that my family had benefited for generations because of colonial policies, and that I would continue to benefit from unearned advantages at the expense of Indigenous people and land. My adopted kinship ties are important within community, for feasting, and for myself and my responsibilities personally. They do not qualify me to claim an Indigenous identity, or to access equity measures within education or employment that are meant to counter the systemic barriers and racism experienced by Indigenous people.

  • A new article in Noema magazine, written by Adrienne Williams, Milagros Miceli, and Timnit Gebru, argues that supporting transnational worker organizing should be at the center of the fight for “ethical AI.” They explain:

Far from the sophisticated, sentient machines portrayed in media and pop culture, so-called AI systems are fueled by millions of underpaid workers around the world, performing repetitive tasks under precarious labor conditions. And unlike the “AI researchers” paid six-figure salaries in Silicon Valley corporations, these exploited workers are often recruited out of impoverished populations and paid as little as $1.46/hour after tax. Yet despite this, labor exploitation is not central to the discourse surrounding the ethical development and deployment of AI systems. In this article, we give examples of the labor exploitation driving so-called AI systems and argue that supporting transnational worker organizing efforts should be a priority in discussions pertaining to AI ethics.

We write this as people intimately connected to AI-related work. Adrienne is a former Amazon delivery driver and organizer who has experienced the harms of surveillance and unrealistic quotas established by automated systems. Milagros is a researcher who has worked closely with data workers, especially data annotators in Syria, Bulgaria and Argentina. And Timnit is a researcher who has faced retaliation for uncovering and communicating the harms of AI systems.

  • As National Hispanic Heritage Month draws to a close this week, Anthropology and American Studies professor Arlene Dávila writes about the marginalization of Latinx studies in academia, where Black and Indigenous histories in particular get sidelined:

Today, Latinx studies is a vibrant interdisciplinary field with its own scholarly organizations and peer-reviewed journals, spanning Afro-Latinx studies and Central American studies, among other fields where young scholars are innovating disciplines from art history to urban studies. These achievements are the product of hard work and activism on the part of students clamoring for Latinx studies, as well as faculty organizing to create conferences and programming to fill the voids within their universities.

Yet these efforts have done little to challenge our marginalization. Over the past year, the U.C. Berkeley professors Cristina Mora and Nicholas Vargas have been tracking the state of Latinx studies programs and departments. They found fewer than 90 programs providing majors in Latinx studies out of the close to 3,000 institutions of higher learning across the nation.

  • Public Books released a report by Kenton Rambsy and Howard Rambsy II delving into and quantifying the New York Times‘s uneven (to say the least) coverage of 500 Black authors from 1970 to 2021. The results confirm what many have already observed, and you can check out their interactive data visualization for a fuller picture:

But has this critique—of elevating only the minimum number of Black writers at a time, at the expense of all others—ever been proven? We are unaware of any efforts to quantify the complaint. That is, until now.

Our findings reveal that many Black writers received at least minimal attention in a prestigious media outlet (in our research, that was the New York Times). Even so, the vast divide between those who received extensive coverage and those who did not explains why some Black people express concern about the persistence of the “One Black Writer” idea. Only select Black writers—all born before 1950—appeared in more than 1,000 articles. Fewer than 20 writers from our list of 500 appeared in more than 500 articles. That means that a relatively small number of writers (like Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Colson Whitehead) appeared in far more articles than hundreds of others.

  • For all the loose leaf enthusiasts out there, TikTok linguist @danniesbrain breaks down the (imperial) history behind the etymology of the word “tea” across many languages in Europe, Africa, and Asia:

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.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

Lakshmi Rivera Amin (she/her) is a writer and artist based in New York City. She currently works as Hyperallergic's editorial coordinator.