• After noticing gaps in the New York Times mini crossword, Juliana Pache created her own free “Black Crossword” with hints and clues related to Black culture, Huffington Post’s Taryn Finley writes:

Pache creates each daily puzzle herself, which she said is the most fun part of the job. Many who make crosswords draw from generic word lists, but Pache is building out her own, recognizing that a lot of the terms she wants to use wouldn’t be on those lists or would have definitions she wanted to change.

“Another crossword puzzle maker might say red is a primary color; I would say Detroit Red for Malcolm X,” she told HuffPost. “But even aside from those words, we might be able to assign different meanings to them. There’s also so many words that they don’t use at all, or they don’t use the way we use, like ‘edges.’ So even though I know some of these words might double up from other places, I’m like, let me put all of these terms in one list so that when I’m populating these puzzles, I have more to work with.”

  • For Quartz, writer Julia Malleck delves into the New York City socialist activism that gave rise to International Women’s Day:

New York’s socialist movement inspired a German feminist and communist named Clara Zetkin, who in 1910 attended a meeting of the Socialist International in Copenhagen, Denmark. There, she proposed the establishment of an International Women’s Day.

The first IWD was held the next year on March 19, 1911, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Paris Commune, a revolutionary government that had once briefly seized power in France. About 1 million people across Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland marked the occasion, holding rallies to demand equal rights for women to work, vote, and run for office.

  • Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff writes in the New York Times about her visit to some of Jamaica’s community tourist hotels, providing an important window into the fight against the country’s notoriously harmful tourism industry:

Stepping out of your comfort zone is a must: Taking the easy options will not lead you to the communities that will really benefit from the money that tourism can bring. It’s on us, as tourists, to seek them out, move within them with an awareness of our relative privileges, and remember the human stories behind their businesses. There are deep sacrifices that some working-class Jamaicans have made to try and bring a new type of tourism to the surface.

  • Jon Stewart’s recent interview with conservative politician Nathan Dahm sparked a flurry of reactions online, but Laura Wagner opines for Defector that our perpetual shock at conservative hypocrisy is missing a big point:

Pointing out so-called right-wing hypocrisy might make the Jon Stewart-watching crowd feel superior to their political foes, but it does nothing to actually build a movement capable of overcoming them. In fact, it does worse than nothing; its smugness serves to flatter the sensibilities of its liberal viewers while obscuring the way political power is built and used in this country. 

  • We know that representation will not save us, but Suzy Exposito of the LA Times celebrates a new small win in media: the deadpan Latina, ushered in by the likes of Aubrey Plaza and Jenna Ortega:

I distinctly recall when Plaza, who is Puerto Rican in real life, delved into her heritage in a 2009 episode of “Parks” titled “Sister City.” It was when a delegation from Caracas — and their fearless leader, played by Fred Armisen — visited the cast in Pawnee, Ind., that Plaza took the opportunity to flex her dry-wit humor in an exaggeratedly robotic brand of Spanish.

“My mom’s Puerto Rican,” she says in the episode, flat as an open can of Jupiña left in the sunshine. “That’s why I’m so lively and colorful.”

  • With the Oscars approaching this weekend, Mathew Rodriguez reports for Them on the status of shows switching (or not) to gender-neutral acting categories:

Indeed, several talented performers are already excluded by the practice of only recognizing actors in distinct, binary categories that have a presumably anatomical basis. As recently as 2020, nonbinary actor Emma Corrin won a Golden Globe award in the actress category for their performance in Netflix’s The Crown. At the time, Corrin used she/her pronouns, but has since come out as nonbinary and said in 2022 that they “hope for a future” when these bodies bestow gender-neutral awards. Corrin’s story, and the fact that over 1.2 million adults identify as nonbinary, portend a world in which binary categories may present more problems, unfairly forcing performers to run in categories that actively misgender them if they want industry recognition.

  • This personal essay by journalist Samhita Mukhopadhyay in the Cut is a must-read, in which she shares a nuanced reflection on her experience with weight-loss drugs and anti-fatness in an era where “Ozempic face” is a phrase people actually say out loud:

But after many appointments and many questions, I decided to go on the drug. I knew I needed some kind of intervention to help stabilize my body and my health while I figured out why I was eating my feelings, why I was struggling to even go for a walk, and why I thought good health and self-care were only about sacrifice. I had to interrogate why I believed I deserved to be sick because I couldn’t “control” myself, but I couldn’t allow myself to keep getting sicker while I did so.

  • People love reviews of just about anything but often can’t distinguish between real and fake ones online. NPR’s Paddy Hirsch talks with researchers about a study looking into this phenomenon:

Finally, the study authors wanted to see whether there was a certain type of person that was more susceptible, or more capable of detecting fakes. So they selected participants that conformed to the Big Five personality types: extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. It turns out that people who display openness, and tend to be adventurous and intellectually curious, are better at spotting fake reviews than other personality types. Extroverted people, on the other hand, tend to have a harder time identifying a fake review.

  • It can be hard to keep up with JK Rowling’s constant transphobia, so Vox’s Aja Romano timelines the author’s long history of it:

Since Rowling began airing her views, her community, especially online where many of these conversations are had, is now stacked with similarly minded people who share her transphobic beliefs. For instance, Rowling is friends with numerous anti-trans activists, including Helen Joyce, who’s made alarmingly transphobic statements calling for a “reduction” in the number of trans people. She’s tweeted public support for anti-gay, anti-trans activist Caroline Farrow. These connections are part of a social network echo chamber of trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs (sometimes called “radfems” or the “gender-critical” movement). In Rowling’s native UK, TERFism has gained a unique stronghold over some particularly vocal, ostensibly liberal feminists like Rowling.

  • Glen Greenwald tries to go after Jerry Saltz 🙄:
  • This is terrifying, and enough to keep me firmly planted on the ground for the foreseeable future (I write as I check in for my upcoming flight):

What extreme turbulance looked like in the Austin to Frankfurt Lufthansa flight 🥺 #lufthansa #planeturbulence #austintx #frankfurt #airplane #airplaneturbulence #austin

♬ original sound – Monica Raygada

Replying to @weirdhelga part 3 😍😍 (also one year anniversary for da first one 😸) #slay #greenscreen #pediatricdentistry #kitten #fyp #art @marshallarts_ @coolcatz6969

♬ Here With Me – d4vd
  • And lastly, a gallery of proof that even during Women’s History Month, men’s sheer audacity is still very much intact:

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.

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