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5 Great Reads: Juneteenth, Facial Recognition & Equal Pay

June 15: Good and insightful things we’ve read online in the past week

5 Great Reads: Juneteenth, Facial Recognition & Equal Pay

Image courtesy of cienpies


1.‘Twitter and Square make Juneteenth a company holiday’

As protests continue in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Twitter and Square announced last week that Juneteenth, the day that commemorates the official end of slavery on June 19, 1865, will now be a company holiday. This article mentions in passing that Juneteenth is relatively unknown outside scholars and the Black community. That’s because teachings about abolition are largely centered on the Emancipation Proclamation, which, when issued in 1863, did not end slavery in the United States, but did free people enslaved in states not under Union control at the time. However, that executive order was difficult to enforce, and it took the passage of the 13th Amendment and the war's end two years later for freedom to be realized. NY Times

2.‘Why it matters that IBM is getting out of the facial recognition business’

IBM CEO Arvind Krisha said last week that the company will no longer make general-purpose facial recognition software, stating that IBM opposes the use of facial recognition “for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights, and freedoms.” For Vox, writer Rebecca Heilweil explains why that decision matters, even if it’s unlikely to affect IBM’s bottom line. In similar news, Amazon also announced last week that it will halt police use of facial recognition technology for a year, and Microsoft announced it will not sell facial recognition technology to the police. Cities like Boston, too, are considering banning the technology entirely. Vox

3.‘Bon Appetit staffers are demanding equal pay. It’s a prime example of how salary transparency can make a difference.’

It has been a week of reckoning for the publishing industry, with brands like Refinery29 and, here, Bon Appetit, undergoing changes in leadership because of toxic and discriminatory work cultures. (For context on Refinery29, read this Twitter thread to get up to speed, or this excellent article from Vox that explains what went wrong with women’s media, or white women’s media, rather, of the 2010s.) We’re pulling this Washington Post piece out of the pile because it brings to light the intersection of gender and race: how unequal pay puts women and people of color at a disadvantage from the start, and that means, if you’re a Black woman you’re doubly compromised. The Washington Post

Women to know

4.‘West Virginia just elected its first openly transgender official’

Rosemary Ketchum joined the Wheeling City Council last week, making her the first openly transgender official elected in West Virginia. Ketchum is one of only 27 openly trans elected officials in the entire country, and we love to see the progress. Now excuse us while we go subtweet J.K. Rowling. CNN

Something to think over

5.‘The absolutist case for problematic pop culture’

HBO Max temporarily removed Gone with the Wind from its streaming platform last week in order to add a warning before the film addressing its inaccurate depiction of slavery and glorification of the Confederacy. That’s fine. But what writer Mark Harris explores here is the danger of papering over past depictions of Black people, or lack of, in film. Here’s a taste of what he has to say:

“For that matter, what should HBO Max do about Friends, having shelled out more than $400 million for streaming rights to a show its own co-creator and stars now call a‘time capsule’ for its all-white cast and willed oblivion about racial diversity?

In a way, putting a warning label on Gone With the Wind will, I fear, be used as an excuse not to explore any of these questions the end of a conversation rather than the beginning of a more complex one about whether we want entertainment corporations to serve as custodians of cinema history, or as (be careful what you wish for) active curators of it.” NY magazine

Plus: a friendly reminder

That’s it. That’s the tweet.

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