Good people suffer and the heart gets tougher

Another issue that is not about product, because how could it be.

Hello again, from my hiding place in Portland. The last time we talked was at the end of March, and so much has happened since then. I am not ready to take this newsletter back to being product-focused. It just seems so unimportant right now.

Instead, I wanted to share a few things that I have been thinking about, reading, and listening to. I understand that this might not be your thing, so I won’t be offended if you unsubscribe, but I hope that you will stick around!

Black Lives Matter

First, I wanted to acknowledge that I don’t feel I have anything of much worth to say about the current situation in the US, particularly around racial justice and the murder of George Floyd. I am in a season of listening, educating myself, and trying to amplify the voices that matter. I’d like to add one small observation based on my experience growing up in South Africa during Apartheid.

I see so many similarities between America in 2020 and South Africa in the late 80s and early 90s. The biggest difference is that in South Africa we had a president who, for all his faults, was willing to give up power for the sake of what is right and good for the country. Perhaps the most disheartening part of all of this is that in America we now have the exact opposite. If “Make America Great Again” means “Be like South Africa in 1960” (look up the Sharpeville massacre), well then Mission Accomplished I guess. As I keep saying to people: “I have seen this movie before, and you don’t want it.” 

Sharpeville massacre, 21 March 1960

Please, let us not be silent anymore. Speak up, donate, vote.

And to my fellow white friends, there is so much we can do right now (and for the long term), but I found this article on being an ally especially helpful. Probably the most important bit:

Being an ally is different than simply wanting not to be racist (thank you for that, by the way). Being an ally requires you to educate yourself about systemic racism in this country. Read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and so many other great books and articles that illuminate oppression and structures of white supremacy and white privilege. Use your voice and influence to direct the folks that walk alongside you in real life (or follow you on the internet), toward the voice of someone that is living a marginalized/disenfranchised experience.

We grow up and move away; seasons pass but the monsters stay

Music is my sanctuary (I think I say that in every newsletter), so I have been drenching myself in the warm fuzzy sounds of synthwave a lot over the past few months. I am especially excited about the new The Midnight album Monsters that comes out next month. The latest single Prom Night is just so good:

Like many of you I’m sure, I’ve also had RTJ4 on repeat for quite a while. This is an album for our time:

Pseudo Christians y’all indifferent?
Kids in prisons ain’t a sin? shit
If even one scrap a what Jesus taught
connected you’d feel different
What a disingenuous way to piss away existence
I don’t get it I’d say you lost your god damn minds
if y’all possessed one to begin with

I am encouraged that our church has not shied away from what is happening in the country, and is shining a light on Portland’s racist past.

Isn’t it ironic

This week also marks the 25th anniversary of Jagged Little Pill. I really enjoyed this mini-documentary where Alanis discusses the recording process of the album, and where she is now:

Also check out this really interesting interview:

On 2 November 1995, Morissette appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with the headline: “Alanis Morissette: Angry White Female”. This simplistic handle is ridiculous, she says, but she’s been called worse things than angry: “If I were to be violently and rudely one-dimensionalised the way that was happening during that time, I’ll take anger. I think anger is pretty amazing. I think a lot of people when they think of anger they think of destruction, acting out of anger that’s destructive, and that’s not what I think about when I think of anger. I think about fire and the capacity to say no, and changes, and standing up for oneself, or protecting someone – momma bear is all about rarrrr. So I was happy with angry. It was much better than any of the other ones at the time, but it’s ridiculous to call any human being any one thing.”

And finally, I just love the new Jason Isbell album Reunions. Definitely another for the times we live in:

We climbed to safety, you and me and the baby
Sent our thoughts and prayers to loved ones on the ground
And as the days went by
We just stopped looking down, down, down

The world's on fire and we just climb higher
Till we're no longer bothered by the smoke and sound
Good people suffer and the heart gets tougher
Nothing given, nothing found

Now read this

I really enjoyed this profile of Steve Buscemi. The man has been through a lot.

Record numbers of Americans recognize racism as a problem. What could the solution be like?

“I have given up.” Parenting in quarantine…

Ok, I think that’s all I wanted to share for now. I hope you are staying safe and healthy. If you are up to it, I’d love to know what you are reading and listening to. If enough people respond we can do a community reading list issue!

Until next time…