• A statue of Mahatma Gandhi was toppled in New York City’s Richmond Hill this past August by someone who is himself South Asian. For Gothamist, Arun Venugopal investigates whether the case qualifies as a hate crime:

For some observers, the Richmond Hill case is made more challenging by the alleged assailant identifying himself to police as South Asian American, according to court papers. Jagpreet Singh, the political director of DRUM, or Desis Rising Up and Moving, a group that serves poor and working-class South Asians in Queens, said what happens on the subcontinent increasingly filters into what happens in the diaspora. There have been other recent incidents of note, some connected to mass protests against contentious agrarian laws passed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and others tied directly to the statements and stances of Gandhi himself.’

“As folks are immigrating and growing their communities in places like New York, in places like Toronto and places like London, we’re definitely going to see incidents that are connected to homeland politics in these places,” Jagpreet Singh said.

Whenever there is legitimate critique, artworld pearl-clutchers fall back on alarmist claims about freedom of expression being lost and artists being cancelled. But institutions’ repetitive dependance on co-option and violation in order to ‘decolonise’ or educate the public about injustices – then writhing about like affronted saints when the obvious is pointed out – is a farcical cycle.

Unlike Indigenous groups in other countries, those in Brazil have traditionally maintained a sense of ownership over the museum, which was conceived as a museum of the nation’s history as well as of natural history, Oliveira says. Even the Wapichana, so distraught by the loss of their heritage, have committed to working with curators. Had there been arguments over ownership of older objects, the fire, in its indiscriminate destruction, made them moot. The National Museum has a unique opportunity, says Mariana Françozo, an associate professor of museum studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Museums in Europe would find it difficult to build a collection entirely based on collaboration, she says, “because they still have the old collections that carry the weight of colonialism.”

Starting in 2018, Oliveira, Benites and others began reaching out to Brazil’s Indigenous communities. Developing relationships and trust around collaboration requires “intense partnership,” Oliveira says. So far, his team is working with about 20 Indigenous groups — a much smaller number than were previously represented in the museum.

  • After the death by suicide of Yale first-year Rachael Shaw-Rosenbaum in 2021, students are speaking out against the university’s failing mental health system, especially with regard to forced leaves of absence. William Wan shares their stories for the Washington Post:

Several students recounted being given 72 hours or less to leave campus once they withdrew.

Nicolette Mántica was already seeing a Yale therapist as a junior in 2017 when a residential dean learned she periodically cut her arms to cope with stress. That night, the dean invited her to a meeting without telling her why, she said.

She was transported to Yale’s hospital, where college officials told her she had no choice but to withdraw. When she was discharged, a campus police officer escorted her to her dorm room and gave her two hours to pack everything and leave, she said.

“It was just me and my parents throwing all my things into any bag we could find. I was running up and down the stairs sobbing while the officer watched us,” she said. “It wasn’t about helping me. It was about getting rid of me.”

Tech companies often make the case that catching mis- and dis-information in what technologists call “low-resource” languages is harder, claiming that what they need to solve the problem is more linguistic data. In reality, much of the alleged difficulty stems from the sector’s underinvestment in non-European contexts. In the Kenyan case, Meta’s system failed to detect hate speech in both Swahili and English—belying the argument that a lack of data is to blame. Meanwhile, Big Tech’s content moderators are largely located in the Global South, many working in appalling conditions.

This worrying picture has led several scholars and activists—among them Sareeta Amrute, Nanjala Nyabola, Paola Ricaurte, Abeba Birhane, Michael Kwet, and Renata Avila—to characterize Big Tech’s global impact as a form of digital colonialism. On this view, primarily U.S.-based tech corporations function in many ways like former colonial powers. Driven by an expansionist ideology, these companies arrange digital infrastructures to fit their economic needs on a global scale. They contribute to the exploitation of low-wage, marginalized workers across the globe. They extract truly staggering profits with very little accountability and with harmful consequences for local communities. They institutionalize social practices designed by a small group of largely white, male, and American software engineers, undermining the self-determination of the societies they seek to expand into. And much like the colonizers of yore who tied all this to a so-called “civilizing” mission, they claim to do all this in the name of “progress,” “development,” “connecting people,” and “doing good.”

  • Spotify who? Claire Woodcock reports for Motherboard that some libraries around the country are creating local music streaming services of their own:

Over a dozen public libraries in the U.S. and Canada have begun offering their own music streaming services to patrons, with the goal of boosting artists and local music scenes. The services are region-specific, and offer local artists non-exclusive licenses to make their albums available to the community.

The concept originated in 2014 when Preston Austin and Kelly Hiser helped the Madison Public Library build the Yahara Music Library, an online library hosting music from local artists. By the time they completed their work on Yahara, they were confident they had a software prototype that other interested libraries could customize and deploy.

  • Harsha Walia, an activist and scholar who focuses on borders and migration, breaks down the myth of the “migrant crisis” for Boston Review

Borders are simultaneously monetized and militarized. Racial capitalism and racial citizenship rely on the dispossession and immobility of migrants to maintain state power and capitalist extractions. Like the carceral construct of criminality, illegality is invented and policed as a race-making and property-protecting regime. And—like policing, prisons, and private property—borders destroy communal social organization by operating through the logic of dispossession, capture, containment, and immobility. As Angela Davis and Gina Dent write, “We continue to find that the prison is itself a border.”

  • When was the last time you penned a thank-you note? Writing for the New York Times, Shivani Vora asks whether these handwritten tokens are relevant anymore:

“Thousands of listeners tell us that they’re disappointed in how no one writes notes anymore saying thanks,” said Nick Leighton, the co-host of the etiquette podcast “Were You Raised by Wolves?” A handwritten thank-you note isn’t just a time-honored art, he argues: It’s an act of thoughtfulness that makes our society a better place by encouraging a spirit of generosity and appreciation.

And while an emailed thanks is a nice gesture, many experts say that, in this virtual age, a traditional, physical note is more powerful than ever.

  • A new proposal could see food delivery workers’ hourly minimum raised to $23.82 in New York City, if the city council approves it. Claudia Irizarry Aponte has the story for The City:

The proposed rate would ultimately put $9 an hour in delivery workers’ pockets over what they typically earn now. New York joins Seattle, which set a minimum wage earlier this year, to go into effect at the same time as New York’s.

The new pay scale is subject to challenge in court by several of the most powerful delivery platforms. Last year, Grubhub, UberEats and Doordash sued the city over a new law that caps the amount of commissions fees that apps can charge restaurants on their platforms.

To be sure, the blockbuster investments of the past rarely arrived as checks paid directly to newsrooms. Facebook’s announced $100 million investment in local news at the start of the pandemic, for example, consisted of $25 million in grant funding and $75 million in “marketing spend.” In the early days of the Facebook Journalism Project, the training often focused on training newsrooms to use Facebook products to reach readers or teaching “best practices” for distributing on their own platform. But now, all sorts of funding is drying up — and anyone clicking on the “Grants” page on the Meta Journalism Project’s website will get a 404 error.

Multiple sources said Meta Journalism Project’s Global Accelerator Program — which consists of workshops and hands-on training designed to boost financial sustainability at news organizations — has been presumed dead for awhile now. A press release published two days before the layoffs became official said the accelerator helped 162 American and Canadian news publishers generate more than 166,000 new paying supporters and more than 2 million new registered readers since 2019. Its counterpart in Europe reported 166,000 new paying supporters, too, and nearly 1.5 million new registered users across 90 publishers from 17 countries.

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.