Categorize Us, We Defy (Many) Labels!

Salutations, Beloved Stalwarts of Dames Nation!

This week, the Internet Thing we most want to signal-boost is Gene Demby’s terrific piece How Black Reporters Report on Black Death. If you’ve already read it, then you know what we’re going to say: it’s beautifully reported-- the kind of in-depth reflection on a community of practice that there’s rarely enough room in journalism for, because the members of that community are out there reporting the most important developing news story in America. There are real costs to reporters working the race-and-police-brutality beat, especially when those reporters are members of the community most frequently plagued by those crimes. We joke frequently about #ServiceJournalism, but we’re sincere about it today. Read this piece. You will be so glad that you did.
And now for a brief interlude of Editorial Transparency, because we are nothing if not transparent.

We debated a bit about leading with this piece: on the one hand, it’s POWERFUL AS SHIT, exquisitely done, and it sheds light on a dynamic that hasn’t yet been seriously examined, all absolutely qualities that typically merit a headlining spot in the newsletter.

But we worried, too. Was it like…glib to lead with a serious piece about the challenges of covering black death while being black when we’re both Nice White Ladies who work in a field heavily populated with Nice White Ladies? Was it performative ally-ship, more about showing how great WE are for caring about the piece than about showing how great the piece itself was? Could we touch on this and then subsequently highlight the plight of a Canadian comic writer and his dog getting trapped in a wet skate bowl or would that give our readers tonal whiplash?

But then Dame Sophie thought of how what Gene is talking about relates to Zeynep Tufekci’s open letter to Facebook, about how severely we limit our worlds when the only metric we have for engaging with something is to LIKE it (related: her piece last year on the real, political consequences of algorithms on what you see in your Facebook feed vs. your Twitter feed). In the absence of a mechanism to tell Facebook “I think this is important”, we are missing out on things that aren’t likable, but are nonetheless critical to our development as humans.

And look, we here, your Dames -- we want you to like us all the time. (Surprise!) We are two ladies who love only the ACT of liking & sharing things more than we like BEING liked. But if we are limiting ourselves to JUST that, if we are saying that we can EITHER talk about substantive, emotional pieces like Gene’s OR a thinkpiece on the greatness of Carly Rae Jepson, 21st Century mystic, then like… WE WOULD BE LETTING THE MAN WIN. False dichotomies are gaaaaarbage, so we are chucking that notion RIGHT OUT and hope you’ll read & signal-boost the hell out of Gene & Zeynep’s work, all while listening to Janelle Monae’s soul-stirring, drumline-rich protest song “Hell You Talmbout”.  

Obviously, Janelle has to defy MORE labels than your Dames do.
But she inspires the crap out of us as she does so. 


Some Favorite Links of Issues Past

We’re getting close to the one-year anniversary of this newsletter, and we’re throwing around some fun ideas for something special to celebrate. Going back over old issues of this newsletter, we were reminded of some true internet gems that we think are worth re-sharing. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!


Dame Sophie’s Top 5 du Semaine


Dame Margaret’s Top 5 du Semaine 

The secret to Peggy Carter's great aim: Imagining she's shooting at Albus Dumbledore???


This Week In We Want To Go To There: Grand Illumination Night

What’s that? You wish there were a real-life small-town celebration that incorporated the 19th century Second Great Awakening religious traditions of a small town on Martha’s Vineyard with idiosyncratically-painted gingerbread Victorian cottages and beautiful paper lanterns, a la Tangled? YOU ARE IN LUCK, because cherished Damespal Amy attended Grand Illumination Night at the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association in Oak Bluffs, MA this week and sent us photos!

May you float into next week on a tide of beautifully illuminated lantern-feelings, Dames Nation.

PS: big heart-eyes thanks to Jen A. Miller (practically Dame Sophie’s neighbor!) & Leila Cohan-Miccio for their recent shout-outs to TBD in their recent newsletters. (Uptalk: such a great newsletter title!) Check ‘em out!

P.P.S. If somehow you missed reading that great Stephen Colbert profile that literally everyone read on Monday, DON'T DO THAT! GO READ IT! It's just as great as everyone said! It will make you cry, in the best, most life-affirming way! 

It will make you feel like either THIS:
or THIS:
depending on your stance in re: cats v. dogs.