I danced to JD Samson's music years before I knew her name. As part of the Le Tigre trio, Samson's punky pop-friendly beats and vocals thumped across all my friend's high school mixtapes. Now, the proudly queer and feminist performer is releasing Labor, the second album of her Brooklyn-based band MEN. It's an upbeat, fiery electronic album that you can put on repeat three times in a row and still want to hear again. You can pre-order the album now, BTW.
I talked with Samson in September about activism, making money, and her very first band.
Barack Obama at this morning's press conference on the death of Trayvon Martin.
President Barack Obama has spoken out relatively rarely in his presidency on the big, controversial issues that dominate our headlines. In an analysis this week, the New York Times described his political strategy as a "hidden hand," saying: "While other presidents have put the bully in the bully pulpit, Mr. Obama uses his megaphone, and the power that comes with it, sparingly, speaking out when he decides his voice can shape the trajectory of an issue and staying silent when he thinks it might be counterproductive."
So it's extraordinary that Obama used his megaphone today to talk about why the Trayvon Martin case and "not guilty" verdict for George Zimmerman has led to such hurt and outrage across the country—and it's powerful the way he connected the politics of the case to his personal experiences with systemic racism.
Full text of the speech and more commentary is below.
On television and in real life, home health aides are an underpaid, overworked, and invisible workforce. Like Elisa (Salma Hayek) on season three of 30 Rock, they feed, bathe, cook, and clean for the nation's elderly folks and people with disabilities in their homes. Yet these workers struggle to make ends meet; on average, they make less than $10 an hour. They receive no overtime pay, and their work can often be physically demanding. Moreover, home health aides work in private residences where their labor receives little oversight and where they lack a support network to help them advocate for better compensation. And these injustices to home health aides matter now more than ever because—guess what?—with a growing elderly population, it's the fastest growing occupation in the U.S.
So while Elisa's plight is played for laughs against Jack's one-percenter lifestyle, the sitcom offers a surprisingly frank glimpse of an undervalued workforce, one that's comprised overwhelmingly of women and women of color—and one that hides in plain sight in homes all across America.
Early in the morning of November 8, 2000, Donna Brazile sent a text to then–presidential candidate Al Gore. The candidate lay in wait with several aides, watching as the chaotic election results unraveled. Out of either determination, or stubbornness, she texted "Never surrender. It's not over yet." Even without winning the election, Donna Brazile had already made history as the first woman of color to ever direct a major national presidential campaign.
I've eagerly anticipated the series premiere of Scandal, Shonda Rhimes's new foray into DC politics and the people who manage political personalities (and their many issues) behind the scenes. Led by Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope—a legendary game changer with connections all the way to White House leadership—a lawyer-heavy, fast-talking team of People Who Excel have become a kind of Leverage-like problem solvers. (It's just that these problems and situations don't require nearly as many rappel lines or night vision goggles.) I was curious to see what kind of woman Rhimes would create to unravel the misdeeds of political figures, since she's given us other strong-minded, independent women of color in Cristina Yang and Callie Torres on Grey's Anatomy. And with one huge, gaping caveat, I wasn't disappointed in the first episode.