Disenchanted with their official leadership, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, Israel, and the diaspora are increasingly redefining their struggle away from what they believe is the two-state mirage and toward resisting the one-state reality. Rather than settling for symbols of statehood and pockets of Palestinian autonomy, their starting point is Israel’s exclusive sovereignty over all the land from the river to the sea, and their focus is the Israeli government: the fact that it provides civil and political rights to Jews that are withheld from Palestinians, in varying degrees depending on their location.
The taxi industry has been brutally crunched on two sides—from skyrocketing operating costs, on the one hand, and a sharp decline in business, on the other. When the bubble burst in late 2014, the value of medallions crashed, leaving drivers with no savings and deep in debt. A rash of suicides among them has followed. At the same time, those already struggling to repay loans found their income drastically reduced by competition from Uber and other ridesharing companies. Erick Castro is left shaking his head, wondering why one of the city’s most faithful and enduring modes of transportation has been the one to go.
An exceptional series currently streaming on the Criterion Channel, “Tell Me: Women Filmmakers, Women’s Stories,” is an occasion to reconsider the ranging paths of feminist media production stoked by women’s liberation in the early 1970s. Originally curated by Nellie Killian for a Metrograph run in 2018, the series spans four decades of documentaries made by women, many of which were distributed by feminist and leftist collectives during the 1970s and 1980s.
Lena K. Gardner, a co-founder of the Black Visions Collective, found her early engagements with city politicians, including her councilman, Jacob Frey, who is now the city’s beleaguered mayor, were deeply frustrating. “I called it ‘the Wall of No,’” she recalled, of their categorical resistance to reforms. “They were so constrained by ideas of scarcity, of what’s possible, that they failed to realize how bad the police really were,” she said. “So it’s mind-boggling to hear the same city council leaders saying that the things that were ‘impossible’ four years ago are now possible.”
Bedridden in his Odéon apartment, Richard Wright—author of the 1940 novel Native Son and the autobiographical Black Boy (1945), his searing account of growing up in the Jim Crow South—spent the last year and a half of his life, before his death in 1960 at the age of fifty-two, writing haiku: “The sound of the rain / Blotted out now and then / By a sticky cough.”
Characters dream of solving their problems by becoming more controlled and many have delusions of “election”—the sense of oneself as “chosen,” “special,” a celebrity perhaps. “For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well,” Coetzee opens his great novel Disgrace. The aspiration is to indulge always with control, without being overwhelmed. The reader knows that is not going to happen.
This legacy—of Britain’s slavery and colonialism, racism and empire—that had been delicately skipped over in my classes soon came ever more sharply into focus for me, not least through the legal cases in which I became professionally involved. The world as it was taught to me and the world as I experienced it were, I came to see, miles apart. British exceptionalism was, well, just part of the natural order.
“When Americans think of dictators they always think of some foreign model,” wrote the anti-fascist journalist Dorothy Thompson in the mid-1930s, but an American dictator would be “one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American.” And the American people, Thompson added, “will greet him with one great big, universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of ‘O.K., Chief! Fix it like you wanna, Chief!’” A few years later, Thompson said she was reminded of what the Louisiana populist Huey Long had once explained to her: “American Fascism would never emerge as a Fascist but as a 100 percent American movement.”
Two black households, not alike in dignity, in fair Louisiana, where we lay our scene: the Metoyers, “high yellow” Catholics, propertied Creoles with a good-looking son; and the Mathises, darker-skinned, poor, Baptist churchgoers with an equally good-looking daughter. In the newly restored Cane River, directed by Horace B. Jenkins and first released in 1982, boy meets girl and they fall in love, but not without the intrusion of history.
Ah Toy had arrived in San Francisco just as California was becoming a state, in that interstitial time before the introduction of laws that would establish structural bias against women and people of color, and before the traditional order, religious and social, that pertained elsewhere in the US could assert itself. (The first clergyman of the Bay Area, Timothy Dwight Hunt, did not arrive until October 1848 from Honolulu.) Though their power would diminish with the closing of the frontier, women, and women of color, prospered—for a time.