weekend links: MacArthur grants, Marsha P. Johnson, Latinx pop stars
Congratulations to this year’s MacArthur “Genius” Grant winners: 24 incredibly talented writers, artists, activists, scientists, musicians, mathematicians, and more. Among this year’s picks is Viet Thanh Nguyen, who we had the pleasure of seeing read two years ago, when his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer was first released. If you haven’t yet read it, there’s no better time than now. [Washington Post]
Reports of Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment of numerous women in the Hollywood movie industry have called to light the industry's complicit attitude toward sexual abuse. It's not a time to question why these actresses did not come out sooner; it is time to denounce Weinstein and all those in executive positions who practice, acquiesce, or otherwise work to silence the voices of victims. We’re looking at you, NBC, Amazon, and Twitter. [VICE]
Filmmaker David France is under fire for allegedly stealing the idea for his documentary on trans activist and drag queen Marsha P. Johnson from Reina Gossett, a trans artist who claims that France saw a grant application video she had put together in 2013 when the two were working at Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. France claims he had come up with the idea earlier. The situation raises questions about privilege and representation, and who gets the green light (and the grant funding) to tell others’ stories. [NBC]
Kara Walker’s new exhibit at Sikkema Jenkins in New York presents yet another uneasy look at racial violence, presenting America’s cultural history of racism through a series of sketches and collages. It may be painful to look at, but as the article points out, it’s certainly less painful than watching the news. [Hyperallergic]
Latinx pop stars are not new to the Top 40—Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Shakira and countless others have become household names. But they all fit a certain niche segment, representing a “tropicalized” musical aesthetic heavy on hip-shaking and romance. Will Reggaeton stars Luis Fonsi and J Balvin change that? What will it take to expand the space that Latinx performers are allowed in the US musical mainstream? [Buzzfeed]
The New York theater community is reeling from the death of Michael Friedman, an up-and-coming playwright who passed away last month, just nine weeks after testing positive for HIV. In contemporary society, where PrEP and other medications have greatly minimized the dangers of HIV and AIDS, Friedman’s death is a shocking reminder of the lingering dangers of the disease. [The New York Times]
Congratulations to Michaela Hansen for winning American Short Fiction’s Short Fiction Prize for her story “The Devil in the Barn,” and congratulations to Keith Sanders, Edward J. Monroe, George K. Johnson, and Ryan Forbes for winning the publication’s inaugural Insider Prize, a competition for incarcerated writers in Texas prisons. We admire the publication’s work to provide this outlet to these prisoners, which was undertaken with the help of Deb Olin Unferth, who teaches writing classes at the Connally Unit in Kenedy, Texas.
We want to bring your attention to two fundraisers which we encourage you to support. Muy Excitedis a web series being developed by former fields contributor Andie Flores, along with artists including Vanessa Marie Gonzalez and Jesus I. Valles, who we featured in our seventh issue (Valles will be performing at our eighth issue release party in Austin next Wednesday). Today is the last day of fundraising for their project, and we encourage you to support these talented individuals! We also are impressed with the many beautiful bricks that have been created as part of the Build Hope, Not Walls fundraiser, which works to support immigrants and refugees. Alejandra Almuelle, who is featured in our newest issue, is auctioning off a piece, as are many other local artists whose work we admire. Put your dollars to a good cause and support one (or both!) of these fundraisers.
—I. Feigle and Sean Redmond