Yes, I remember: boiling leaves to eat; rubbing leaves on your skin because you have no soap; crushing leaves under your arms so that you don’t smell bad. Leaves and dirt, sticks and rocks: these are the only things a refugee can count on. Even if the exiles go home, the average wage in Liberia is about $1.25 a day. Many people have no clean water or flush toilets. Their lives are hard every day. There is no route to riches. To get money from America is like a blessing from God—bread falling from the sky.
—Louise Troh, writing in Vanity Fair about the death of her longtime love Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died of Ebola in Dallas. Troh came to America from Liberia in 1998 as a political refugee.
On television, women don’t usually play grownup human beings; they play slightly oversize children, helpless and pouty, driven by appetites they can’t possibly understand. At the show’s surfeit of interesting, adult females, the mind reels. That they are merely egg containers would seem boringly reductive, in a biology-is-destiny way, except that it’s such an interesting answer to science fiction’s big question: Who creates life? It could be said that “Orphan Black” is a feminist “Frankenstein,” if it weren’t true that “Frankenstein” was a feminist “Frankenstein” … One trick, in “Orphan Black,” is keeping the story ahead of the science; another is keeping the women ahead of the men.
— If you’re not watching “Orphan Black,” a BBC sci-fi drama about six? eight? twelve? clones, each played by the unbelievably talented Tatiana Maslany: start. Today, preferably. (The third season premiered earlier this month—two seasons won’t take long to binge-watch.) At the New Yorker…
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Save the date! On June 24, Longreads will be hosting a free night of storytelling at the Booksmith in San Francisco, featuring:
* * *
Wednesday, June 24, 7:30 p.m.
1644 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
Rioting broke out on Monday in Baltimore—an angry response to the death of Freddie Gray, a death my native city seems powerless to explain. Gray did not die mysteriously in some back alley but in the custody of the city’s publicly appointed guardians of order. And yet the mayor of that city and the commissioner of that city’s police still have no idea what happened. I suspect this is not because the mayor and police commissioner are bad people, but because the state of Maryland prioritizes the protection of police officers charged with abuse over the citizens who fall under its purview.
The citizens who live in West Baltimore, where the rioting began, intuitively understand this. I grew up across the street from Mondawmin Mall, where today’s riots began. My mother was raised in the same housing project, Gilmor Homes, where Freddie Gray was killed. Everyone I knew who lived…
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Stevie Nicks: The legend from Fleetwood Mac is a rock star, because she’s always been ruthlessly honest and fearless. The first time she picked up a guitar and wrote a song, it was about heartbreak, and when she wrote for Fleetwood Mac, many of those songs were about her doomed relationship with guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. But through all the struggle, Nicks was sexy and sophisticated, and strove for equality by embodying the equal.
“We fought very hard for feminism, for women’s rights,” Nicks told a crowd at South by Southwest in 2013, according to Rolling Stone. “What I’m seeing today is a very opposite thing. I don’t know why, but I see women being put back in their place. And I hate it. We’re losing all we worked so hard for, and it really bums me out.”
Nicks completely owned her femininity and her vulnerability, all while proving that…
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