paper trail

Marlon James on racism in the North; Trials begin for Turkish journalists arrested after coup

Marlon James. Photo: Jeffrey Skemp

Marlon James reflects on racism in Minnesota after the police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile was found not guilty. James refers to an article in Ebony by Dick Gregory, in which the comedian wrote, “Down South white folks don’t care how close I get as long as I don’t get too big. Up North white folks don’t care how big I get as long as I don’t get too close.” “I should have known that a man as wise as Gregory meant so much more. And I did not realize until just now, that big can mean literally big, and close can mean 20 feet away, and how 10 years of living in Minnesota as a ‘big, black guy’ has led me to a gradual though futile ‘reduction’ of myself to get closer,” James writes. “Get big but don’t get close can mean that even a thin black man complying with the law can still be seen as a justifiable threat.”

The New York Times reports on the Mexican government’s use of spyware to surveil journalists and activists. Although the tools are only supposed to be used to keep an eye on suspected terrorists and members of drug cartels, the spyware “has been used against some of the government’s most outspoken critics and their families, in what many view as an unprecedented effort to thwart the fight against the corruption infecting every limb of Mexican society.”

Three Turkish journalists were brought to court yesterday in the first trial of alleged supporters of the country’s attempted coup last summer. According to The Guardian, two of the journalists—Ahmet and Mehmet Altan—”have been held without trial since September, and face possible life sentences, along with fellow journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, for allegedly attempting to overthrow the government and acting on behalf of a terror organisation.”

At Politico, Joe Pompeo chronicles the “not-so-bitter rivalry” of New York Times editor Dean Baquet and Washington Post editor Marty Baron.

Claire Cameron talks to novelists Julie Buntin and Gabe Habash about the perks and perils of being a literary couple. Although the pair enjoy having an in-house editor available at all hours, it can get overwhelming. “Sometimes we get home and we’re eating dinner and we go from talking about our books to talking about books that he’s reading or assigning for review to talking about books on submission at Catapult or something I’m editing,” Buntin said. “We have a moment where one or the other of us snaps and is like, no more books. Please, enough.”