paper trail

Ibram X. Kendi reflects on freedom, power, and the Fourth of July

Ibram X. Kendi. Photo: Stephen Voss

At The Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi, the author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be an Antiracist—reflects on what the Fourth of July meant in 1776 and what it means now: “As we know all too well today, wealthy white American men did not stop rebelling when they won the American Revolution, when they gained the power to protect their declared independence. They continued to rebel to keep their power. They, ‘the Patriots.’ The rest of us have continued our rebellions because we have yet to gain the power to be free. The resisting rest of us, ‘the unpatriotic.’” He continues: “On this Fourth of July, the rest of us—and our wealthy white male allies—should be celebrating our ongoing struggles for freedom and not celebrating as if we are free. We should be celebrating our disobedience, turbulence, insolence, and discontent about inequities and injustices in all forms. We should be celebrating our form of patriotism that they call unpatriotic, our historic struggle to extend power and freedom to every single American.”

J.K. Rowling is one again being criticized for her transphobia. Last month, a personal essay by the Harry Potter author, in which she shared her views on transgender rights, elicited protests from actors, authors, publishers, and fans. As Publishers Weekly reported on Friday, many indie bookstores have stopped selling Rowling’s books. Over the weekend, Rowling drew more criticism for liking a tweet that calls “hormone prescriptions the new antidepressants.” Rowling has issued a series of tweets that, among other things, defended her beliefs, one of which stated: “many health professionals are concerned that young people struggling with their mental health are being shunted towards hormones and surgery when this may not be in their best interests.”

Ben Lerner’s new prose poem “The Rose” appears in the New York Review of Books.

An excerpt from Pulitzer-winning author Isabel Wilkerson’s forthcoming Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents appears in the New York Times Magazine.

Johns Hopkins professor Yascha Mounk writes a mission statement for his new project, Persuasion, an online “community” and platform that will organize live events, hold town hall meetings, facilitate book club discussions, and publish articles. “To defend the values of a free society with courage and conviction,” Mounk notes, “we need to build institutions of our own.” He notes: “One core element of this project is a publishing platform explicitly devoted to debating, articulating, and defending the values of a free society. Emulating what Reason, Jacobin, and the National Review have accomplished within their own ideological traditions, I hope to create a space in which philosophical liberals can ask hard questions and come up with compelling answers.”

Rudolfo Anaya—a “father of Chicano literature” and the author of the frequently banned coming-of-age novel Bless Me, Ultima, has died.