Thomas Golanopoulos, Grantland (6/29)
Dope is a flick about a bunch of kids in Inglewood, CA, made by a heavy set of collaborators: it's directed by Rick Famuyiwa; produced by Pharrell, Forest Whitaker, and Sean Combs; stars Tyga, Chanel Iman, Zoe Kravitz, and A$AP Rocky; and came out on June 19th. Golanopoulos' piece is about actor De’Aundre Bonds (who plays Stacey in the film) and how he restarted his life and his acting career after he was convicted of manslaughter for the death of his aunt’s boyfriend. Bonds recounts how eleven years in prison changed him, and his experience of being released in 2011—“It was like I stepped into the future,” he says, and has since found “peace through the support of his family and the birth of his first child.”
Jacob Siegel, The Daily Beast (6/29)
The internet is a great place, full of information and global communication. But, as we all know, there are some dark, terrible corners of the web. Jacob Siegel of The Daily Beast delves into the murky swamps of Reddit and 4chan, where outright racism, sexism, and all-around awfulness exist in terrifying abundance. These forums are a hotbed for the worst kinds of people to express their worst thoughts—and it's where people like Dylann Roof and Elliot Rodger found encouragement for their sick, twisted causes. Read Siegel's piece on how "trolls staked their expressive rights and aesthetic identity to tormenting women and black people," but get ready to be angry.
Ashley Gilbertson, The Marshall Project (6/29)
The Marshall Project partnered with New York Magazine for a massive, incredibly important spread on the obscenely messed up world of Rikers Island. "Jails, in general, have problems that are quite distinct from those of prisons—inmates aren’t acclimated to institutional life yet, and rapid turnover makes things difficult, too—but the density of Rikers, a natural extension of New York’s own density, makes it a special dilemma," writes Gilbertson. It's been crystal clear for a while now that the justice system in the U.S. is nothing short of broken. The Marshall Project's encompassing collection of stories from inmates, corrections officers, and visitors shows a harrowing image of just how severe the situation is. This is a must-read.
Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil, Medium (6/29)
Clemantine Wamariya's honest account of her escape from Rwanda, her refuge in the U.S., her survival, and reconnection with her family (whose flight to America was financed by Oprah herself) flips the lens through which we view home, family, and displacement. Read her piece on Medium, organized in chapters based on location, and accompanied by stunning portraits.
Michael Cooper, New York Times (6/30)
Misty Copeland has been on a rise to stardom since making the cover of Time magazine, being profiled on “60 Minutes,” gaining over 8 million views for her Under Armour ad, and earning some of ballet’s most significant roles. But despite being a dance sensation, she still had not landed a part as a principal dancer. Until Tuesday the 29th, that is, when she was the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the 75-year history of American Ballet Theater. In Cooper's Times piece, he breaks down media, communication, and racial barriers in the dance world.
Max Rivlin-Nadler, Maxim (7/1)
The story of Lewis' L'Amour is a strange one. A record collector named John Murphy found it one day while perusing a record store, found it was "the best thing [he'd] heard all year," an album "soaked in some kind of weightless transcendence and spooky subterfuge." Murphy attempted to track down the artist behind the album which, as a result of web circulation, had found an audience—since Murphy's discovery, the record became a cult classic (surely fueled by the intrigue of the unknown). For years Murphy and friends searched for Lewis, AKA Randall Wulff, with no luck. This beautifully written piece by Rivlin-Nadler recounts the whole story, including how he and the team at Maxim finally found the elusive Lewis.
Felix Gillette and Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg Business (7/1)
Television, just like the music industry, is facing a crisis. Streaming has changed everything, obviously, and just as record companies are being threatened (or being taken over) by Apple, Spotify, etc., TV programmers like Viacom (which owns MTV, VH1, Comedy Central Spike, and BET) are being threatened by YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. The MTV Awards in 1999 had 6.6 million viewers. This year's MTV Awards had 1.5 million. Viacom is a company whose networks target young people, but young people are the best at evading advertisements and having to pay to watch their favorite shows. What is the next step? Bloomberg Business lays it all out.