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Death of a Bird App, Birth of a Racist Chart-Topper
I am really going to use substack this time, really
Note: this is a personal newsletter. It’s not a reflection of my employer or any former employers. Views expressed here are mine and only mine.
Hi all! Sav Thorpe, train girlie caucus chair here, reporting live from the depths of despair as X, née Twitter, appears to be on its last legs, actually this time.
I am open and shameless in my sorrow at twitter’s loss. For all the hours of mindless scrolling and nonsense pop news moments that I didn’t even bother explaining to off-twitter people, I still miss the community that we created there. I owe my career, many of my friends, and a better understanding of this world to the bird.
But now it’s time to bid farewell, and it appears, finally use substack the way God intended — for longer form writing, for responding to news articles I enjoyed (or didn’t!), and for sharing pictures with the friends in the fight both near and far.
I am writing this to put my goal into words: I would like to send out emails here at least weekly, and maybe someday, twice a week. And I look forward to y’all joining me on this journey! I’ll be writing about trains, organizing, prisons, government, racial justice, bodies, snacks, music, labor, womanhood, girlhood, hobbies, failures, comms girlie hot takes, and more.
So I suppose I’ll start with this one: My take on *that* Jason Aldean song is that other cool country/folk artists exist and deserve the attention we are, for some reason, offering to a racist.
Back in 2020 during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, a caucasian individual who fashioned themselves a member of the movement encouraged their facebook followers to listen to a two-hour unedited podcast conversation between a right-wing host and the former Chief of Police of the City of Lancaster, who resigned in disgrace.
I was confused, to say the least.
Before I and a few other Black ladies convinced (maybe bullied?) this person into deleting the post, I was reminded of a favorite Anat Shenker-Osorio Tweet:
Our attention and our online platforms in the modern internet economy of views and likes are two of the few things we can control. Where voting and marching has failed, our attention is one of our most valuable assets.
So to spend our attention on and fill our facebook feeds with a two-bit right-wing country singer, sending him to the top of the country charts and introducing him to people who have never heard of him before, serves only to boost his popularity.
As the old saying goes, all press is good press. And if you’re a country singer whose profile rises with every stream of a song, hate-streams and MAGA-streams are all just streams boosting you to a coveted #2 spot.
Which is all to say that your memes dunking on how racist, dangerous, or nonsensical his most recent single are are working against a value most of us hold dear: that we comrades should spend our time and attention elevating the works of marginalized groups, not the works of racists.
There are so so SO many Black, brown, queer, and disabled folk artists who are begging for and deserving of attention, but instead, we are offering our coveted attention to,,,,,,,a racist.
I am begging you instead to consider streaming, posting about, and supporting the music of Joanna Sternberg, Samantha Rise, Norma Tanega (rest in peace queen), Peter One, Brittany Anne Tranbaugh or one of the myriad country/folk people who deserve our support.
Not the racist.
Anyways, please encourage your friends to subscribe to my substack! I will soon be posting paid tiers that include train girlie caucus merch, and maybe some audio content in the coming months.
Some quick final notes:
My dear friend Suzy’s dad suffered a serious head injury, so she is raising money to cover her travel expenses to care for him. You should chip in if you can.
This Saturday, July 29, I am hosting a book talk with author Aisha Abdel Gawad about her debut novel, Between Two Moons. It’s at Pocket Books, and it’s free! RSVP here.
My pals at Popular Comms are hosting a research briefing on Strategic Messaging to Defend Public Education & Defeat Authoritarianism this afternoon, July 26. Also free! You should come.
I am mighty, mighty grateful to be a member of this caucus with you all.