Loyalty to self is not the same as selfishness.
I have been whispering, shouting, writing, repeating that to myself through deep sighs over the past few weeks. In the middle of an ~existential~ flummoxing like the one that has confined me to the dark corners of my brain for months, I’ve been considering all of the things - privileges, decisions, manifestations of luck both good and bad - that have delivered me to where I am now and where they will land me next.
There are feelings, and my levelheaded mantra helps me to navigate them. Loyalty to self is not the same as selfishness.
Whether loyalty is the result of nature or nurture or circumstance, I don’t know. What I do know is that practically every one of my girlfriends has the same pathology. (Yes, pathology.) Between us, there is loyalty to families whose love is double-edged, loyalty to men who maybe don’t love us at all, loyalty to co-workers who do not get called ‘bitch’ when it’s their turn to make the moves that are best for them, loyalty to cities that have given us nothing but eczema and brittle hair.
But loyalty to self is not the same as selfishness.
We are taught to dismiss our gut instinct, though it is invariably our truest and most ardent supporter. We are taught silence. We are taught that the duty of sisters/mothers/daughters is to put the needs of others before our own, though there is only so much weight a person can carry without shrinking underneath it. All the while, the burdens balloon and the expectations morph and we cover up the cracks like we cover up our zits because women are strong, women are the pillars of community.
But it is not selfish to be loyal to yourself.
Every debate on Twitter gets put through the platform’s peculiar distortion effect. The form’s inherent limitations—the 140 character limit and a fleeting shelf-life—reward volume, frequency, and fervor rather than nuance, complexity, and persuasion. This might feel unseemly to those who value a more refined conversation, but there is no denying the viral power of hashtag activists who capitalize on the speed at which a single tweet can multiply into something that resembles a protest rally. A new Twitter outrage seems to detonate every week, and, in many cases, the voices raised in these social media movements belong to groups that do not have equal representation within the mainstream media. But they should not therefore be immune to questions or criticism: If an activist hashtag becomes a trend, has a broad, important conversation taken place? It is no simple thing to determine whether Twitter outrage can itself expand the terms of discourse and challenge the status quo.
-The Campaign to “Cancel” Colbert, Jay Caspian Kang
Anonymous asked: Do you ever encounter writer's block? If so, how do you cope with it?
In those moments I try and force myself to remember that this is my job. House painters don’t get house painter’s block. Baristas don’t get barista’s block. I think some writers fuck themselves up by thinking of their job as high-minded philosophy for which one requires perfect conditions and a perfect headspace. It’s work. Treat it as work instead of an academic exercise.
White supremacy does not contradict American democracy—it birthed it, nurtured it and financed it. That is our heritage. It was reinforced during 250 years of bondage. It was further reinforced during another century of Jim Crow. It was reinforced again when progressives erected an entire welfare state on the basis of black exclusion. It was reinforced again when the intellectual progeny of the same people who excluded black women from welfare, turned around and inveigh against it through caricaturization of black women.
Jonathan Chait is arguably the sharpest political writer of his generation. If even he subscribes to a sophomoric feel-good rendering of his country’s past, what does that say about the broader American imagination?
-Other People’s Pathologies, Ta-Nehisi Coates