What to Read This Weekend

From resistance to care work, grief, and the merging of Big Tech and policing, here are some stories you may have missed this week.

Greetings friends,

These are messy times, and there’s a lot to keep up with. Many of us have grown reliant on social media recommendations for our must-reads, but as Twitter (I’m still not calling it X) continues to crumble, I will be sharing my recommendations here. This week’s list covers a lot of ground. From surveillance, AI, and predictive policing to care work, mass arrests in El Salvador, and the dangerous rhetoric of “Hinduphobia,” these pieces offer vital information, insights, and reflections that you may have missed.

  • One Black Student Union Vice President Vs. Ron DeSantis by Devyn Rolls and Erik Wallenberg. “A group of us thought that all you had to do is to look at any of these people and know that they’re coming in with an agenda to remake the college from the top down, and they don’t care who gets in their way or what casualties they cause. They don’t care what disasters they leave in their wake. And we have to respond to that. So our question was how do you get more people to see that and take real steps to organize in reaction?”
  • Inside the High-Security “Black Site” Where Leonard Peltier Is Incarcerated by Silja J.A. Talvi. “ FCC Coleman functions like a military complex, complete with cellphone dampening technology, audio and visual surveillance, heavily armed guards and gunfire “practice” sessions, which have left surrounding neighborhood residents concerned about why, precisely, guards are practicing with live fire.”
  • Chicago Sues Monsanto for “Widespread Contamination” of the Chicago River by Zane McNeill. “Chicago is suing the Monsanto Corporation for producing cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The complaint filed in Cook County court last week alleges that the company caused “widespread contamination” across the banks and sediment of the Chicago River which the city continues to bear the cost of cleaning up.”
  • The Lyte Collective takes a comprehensive approach to supporting unhoused youth by Danielle Sanders. “The Lyte Lounge is not your typical community center. It’s warm and inviting with friendly faces. The lounge provides holistic support for unhoused youth, and safe and affordable housing as well as mental health support. It also offers access to freshly prepared meals by an onsite chef, showers, and storage for personal belongings and laundry. Community providers are also available to offer medical and legal assistance.”
  • The Maker of ShotSpotter Is Buying the World’s Most Infamous Predictive Policing Tech by Dhruv Mehrotra and Dell Cameron. “SoundThinking’s absorption of Geolitica marks its latest step in becoming the Google of crime fighting—a one-stop shop for policing tools. Experts who study law enforcement use of technology say the bundling of two controversial technologies signals a new era for the cop-tech industry and has the potential to shape the future of policing in the United States.”
  • These Prisoners Are Training AI by Morgan Meaker. “The accelerating search for so-called clickworkers has created a trend where companies are increasingly turning to groups of people who have few other options: refugees, populations in countries gripped by economic crisis—and now prisoners.
  • “La Isla” Shows the Absences Left by El Salvador’s Mass Arrests by Jonathan Blitzer. “When the government of El Salvador declared a “state of exception” in March of last year, after a sudden spike in gang killings, it was supposed to be temporary. Soldiers and police officers could arrest anyone they considered suspicious. No one was entitled to a legal defense.”
  • Oppose The Indian Hindu Nationalist Rhetoric Of “Hinduphobia” by Walia, Venkatesh, Lal, Ahmad, Ramana, Murthy. “‘Hinduphobia’ is a reverse-racism-type narrative, deployed to delegitimise the fight against casteism and the oppression of persecuted communities in/by the Indian state by falsely framing India and Hindutva as the victims. This serves to vilify human rights advocates, while creating confusion amongst the broader public about being labeled as ‘Hinduphobic’ if they speak out for human rights.”
  • 1 Year After William Rivers Pitt’s Death, Let’s Recommit to Collective Survival by Maya Schenwar. “Anyone who throws their energy toward collective survival has to think a lot about change. How do we embrace change? How do we resist harmful changes? How do we make change? How do we adapt to changing circumstances? These questions emerged as the pandemic erupted and dragged on, but they also apply on a thousand different fronts. What is demanded of us, in service of collective survival, is often in flux.”

If you’re looking for something to listen to this weekend, there’s a brand new episode of Movement Memos, wherein I talk with Cory Doctorow about how we can unfuck the internet. I also recommend checking out The Real History of the Luddites on Tech Won’t Save Us and the latest episode of 1 Million Experiments.

Book wise, I am currently working on A Different Trek: Radical Geographies of Deep Space Nine by David K. Seitz. I have a deep and abiding love for Deep Space Nine, and I simply adore this book. A rigorous political analysis of a long-cancelled Trek series won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if these subjects interest you, it is a fascinating read. If you need some poetry in your life (and who doesn’t?), I recommend Falling Back in Love with Being Human by Kai Cheng Thom.

Have a great weekend!