‣ In some wondrous news this week, Brian Handwerk writes for Smithsonian Magazine about the recent discovery of the first red paint created from plants:
Previously, the earliest known examples of plant-based red pigment had appeared around 6,000 years ago. But humans—and our relatives—have long expressed ourselves with the color red, which appears to have psychological impacts on the human mind. Our ancestors produced pigments from rocks and minerals like iron oxide (which is contained in red ochre) and used them to color everything from stones and bones to cave walls—with first uses documented in Africa as far back as 500,000 years ago. Shell tooth and bone ornaments in Kebara Cave were also colored with ochre. Blocks of it were found at the cave, along with ochre-adorned artifacts such as beads and burial textiles, making it clear that this older color was still very commonly used.
But the Natufian culture may have used the new plant-based red color to grab attention. What messages or meanings the bright red pigment’s ornamental use might have conveyed are lost in time. But the ways Natufian people expressed themselves creatively represent a distinct shift from older cultures in the region, Davin says. Where older sites might yield a few hundred beads, he explains, Natufian sites have many thousands, in a wide diversity of materials—bone, teeth, shell, clay and even feathers. “Probably it means that their need to express their identity is really different from previous periods,” he says. “Probably they wanted to add something more, another message, another meaning, and probably the use the organic red pigment is part of that.”
‣ Queering the Map, which invites people to share messages from around the world, has taken on a new role for queer Palestinians in Gaza during the Israeli military’s bombardment. Sarah O’Neal reports for the Nation:
The site was launched in 2017 by founder Lucas LaRochelle. Its mission was to gather submissions from queer people and create a global digital archive of queer memory.
In a moment when journalists have been under attack and a blockade on electricity has severely limited the ability of people in Gaza to get their message out, Queering the Map has become an essential tool for queer Palestinians whose stories could have disappeared beneath the rubble altogether.
The entries are equal parts romantic, wistful, and heartbreaking—the testimony of people trying to find love and beauty in a world that wants to erase them from existence.
‣ Writing for the Boston Review, Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba consider how movements are built and what role listening plays:
The forces that oppress us may compete and make war with one another, but when it comes to maintaining the order of capitalism and the hierarchy of white supremacy, they collaborate and work together based on their death-making and eliminationist shared interests. Oppressed people, on the other hand, often demand ideological alignment or even affinity when seeking to interrupt or upend structural violence. This tendency lends an advantage to the powerful that is not easily overcome.
‣ Aaron Moselle reports for WHYY that the Colored Girls Museum, a beloved Philadelphia institution, might be in danger after a filed zoning complaint:
Under the city’s zoning code, a museum can’t be housed in a building that’s a twin without a variance, an approved deviation from the law. A museum that’s also a residence would require the same consent.
With help from pro bono attorneys, the museum submitted a zoning permit application with the city, but it was rejected, setting up a virtual hearing on Wednesday with the zoning board.
To co-founder and executive director Vashti DuBois, who has called the twin home for more than 20 years, the museum’s value should be clear to the board.
“There’s nothing else like this anywhere. That seems pretty good for Philadelphia,” said DuBois.
‣ According to Gothamist, a rapper made two viral music videos on Rikers Island and experts are afraid it might make him a target:
“I think he’s one of a kind,” Jones’s manager Picture Perfect told Gothamist. “I just never thought in my mind that somebody could pull something like this off.”
The scenes give a rare look into life at Rikers, the jail facility that now holds more than 6,000 detainees pre-trial and which is notoriously violent, dirty and lacking in programming and professional development.
Jones won’t say how he assembled enough contraband equipment inside jail to shoot the video, and how he smuggled the footage out. But he managed to get the final video into the hands of a talent scout at a major hip-hop website: WorldStarHipHop. By May, the fully-produced 3-minute video clip was on YouTube – shared with WorldStar’s 26 million subscribers.
‣ Parth M.N. reports for the LA Times on Hindutva Watch, an organization dedicated to tracking hate speech and violence against marginalized communities in India:
He says Indians can’t find those stories in mainstream media because it has stopped much of its reporting on hate speech and hate crimes.
A year ago, Anil Yadav, a reporter based in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh left his job at a Hindi television channel and made a video explaining his decision. “I feel ashamed calling myself a journalist,” he said, explaining he had instructions from the top to criticize only the opposition party leaders — not Modi’s party. In addition, he said the reporters were told to “find controversies related to Muslims, instigate Muslims, get them to make controversial statements.”
A journalist working at another TV station in the state of Maharashtra has had a similar experience. “The idea is to make sure the ruling BJP looks good,” he said, requesting anonymity because he fears he will lose his job. “The far-right leaders aren’t to be exposed. We have families to look after so we have to toe the line. But what we are asked to do is not journalism. It is PR.”
Naik believes that Hindutva Watch, which has more than 75,000 followers on X, formerly known as Twitter, can help fill the void.
‣ Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times answers a burning question in this week’s edition of her fashion column: Why don’t women’s clothes have more pockets?
But, Ms. Carlson continued: “Evident in the decisions that go into making some garment is the notion that men’s clothes are meant for utility and women’s for beauty” — or decoration. And that reflects “old ideas about women’s place and about the more limited social and economic contributions they are expected to make.”
Also, pockets, or the lack of them, have led to the rise of the handbag sector — you have to put all that stuff somewhere — and that has powered the luxury industry since the end of the last century. Meantime, the rise of fast fashion has meant fewer pockets, or fake pockets, since, Ms. Carlson said, “pockets are the first to go in any cost- or time-cutting and profit-boosting endeavor.” It has not been in anyone’s interest to rock the status quo.
‣ The story of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, via TED-Ed:
‣ The only type of workout we can all agree on:
‣ This is eldest daughter-coded:
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.