When I clicked on the May 5 Google Doodle, I knew the voice coming out of my computer speakers sounded familiar. To my surprise and delight, the voice belonged to Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, paying homage to Nellie Bly, the journalist and badass. That day’s Doodle (hee), which you can watch above, celebrates Nellie, who went undercover in a women’s asylum in 1887 to report on the appalling conditions there. Happy 151st birthday, Nellie!
I am always a fan of sartorial excess in a formal setting, and the Met Gala is one of the occasions where I get to perve on this big-time. But this year’s Met Gala gave me serious heebie-jeebies on account of its theme, “Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film and Fashion“. That title alone feels so gross and wrong to me! The parlor game Chinese whispers is predicated on the Chinese language being complicated and hard to understand. That the Met’s theme evoked this idea pissed me off.
In a considered and interesting piece for Refinery29, Connie Wang wrote about the Met’s exhibition, and how it’s not actually about China, but about the West’s perception of China. The gala was meant to honor the Met’s Department of Asian Art’s 100-year anniversary, and the exhibition of the same name. But as Connie writes, “having this kind of difficult, but necessary, conversation about appropriation within the context of a museum is one thing. Yet, it almost seems like a cruel joke to extend that same concept—how the West sees ‘the East’—into a party.”
Smith College, a women’s college in Massachusetts, announced that it will accept applications from transgender women, starting this fall. The school’s statement about the change said, “The board’s decision affirms Smith’s unwavering mission and identity as a women’s college, our commitment to representing the diversity of women’s lived experiences, and the college’s exceptional role in the advancement of women worldwide.”
TIME magazine is celebrating Mother’s Day by asking influential mothers like Victoria Beckham, Chirlane McCray, and Tina Knowles Lawson to share open letters to their children. Tina Knowles Lawson’s open letter to her daughters is addressed not only to her biological daughters—two li’l ladies called Beyoncé and Solange—but also the singer and Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland, who came to live with the Knowles family when she was 11, and her niece (and Bey’s personal assistant) Angie Beyince.
I love the personal touches Tina scatters throughout this letter. Tina recalls the way her daughters held sleepovers to comfort her during her divorce from Beyoncé and Solange’s father. She also remembers the time that Solange, “at 10 years old, started a petition to remove a bad teacher,” from her school. The Knowles fam may be the First Family of American entertainment, but they’re also people who text each other YouTube videos, have in-jokes about TV shows, and rely on one another for support and comfort.
This year, world leaders including the Pope and the United Nations have been discussing climate change. To get us all thinking about our habits, consumption, and waste, the Foundation for Deep Ecology released a series of pictures that show the impact of human waste on the planet. Across the 19 photos published on Mic, there are piles of discarded electronics in Ghana, burning jungles in Brazil, and the crush of Black Friday shoppers in Idaho. The images gave me a lot to think about, and another reason to read Rachael’s piece on how to work with your family to be more environmentally conscious!
On Thursday, the UK election saw the Conservative party re-elected. Amid the gloom, a bright spot was the victory of Mhairi Black, a 20-year-old student at Glasgow University, who won a parliamentary seat by a whopping 6,000 votes! Even more amazing is that Mhairi, a candidate for the Scottish National Party, won against Douglas Alexander, one of the most prominent politicians in the UK. Mhairi is studying politics at college, but she’s already made political history and worldwide headlines, as the youngest person to be elected to the UK parliament since 1667. Watch her victory speech above.
Willow Smith released a music video for her track “F Q-C #7” (“Frequency Number Seven”). The video, which she co-directed with Mike Vargas, is a visual feast with a lighthearted, carefree black girl feel. In an email to the FADER, Willow explained that the different versions of herself in the video represent her Chakras: “Yellow is self-confidence, Blue is my voice (song), Red is my survival instinct, and the Black is a combination of everything (the true me).” In short: Willow stays killing it.
The New York Times has published an investigative report about the abuses encountered by undocumented migrants working as manicurists in NYC’s nail salons. In her yearlong investigation, Sarah Maslin Nir found that many manicurists were subject to tip theft, racism, pay way below the minimum wage, and other illegal labor practices. In the piece, one woman describes the time she was fined and fired for spilling nail polish remover on a customer’s Prada sandal, and concludes, “I am worth less than a shoe.” Sarah Maslin Nir’s report—which was also published in Chinese, Korean, and Spanish—has started more people talking about the rights of these migrant women, and I hope the conversation will spur concrete long-term solutions.
Barriers to health care access are no laughing matter, but Amy Schumer’s sketch “Ask if Birth Control is Right For You,” hilariously highlights a troubling reality. Schumer’s parody of a contraception ad lampoons political debates about a woman’s right to access birth control without permission from her father, clergy, the state, or the corporation she works for. While Schumer’s satirical ad is extremely funny, it’s a sad reminder that buying a gun, for some women in the United States, is easier than getting life-changing health care.
Looking for a Mother’s Day card that isn’t cheesy or expensive? “Strong Families,” a campaign of Forward Together, designs free Mamas Day e-cards that celebrate families in all their forms. Their annual Mama’s Day campaign recognizes the multitude of Mamas in our communities by commissioning artists to design images that reflect the diversity in our lives. From hijabi mamas, to chosen mothers, to gay daddies, to incarcerated mamas, and grandmothers, Mama’s Day cards represent mamahood with bold community-centered art. I can’t wait to send the “I get it from my mama” card featuring the Radical Brownies to my mother.♦