This week's Five Star Mixtape blog roundup is brought to you by the awkwardness of youth, choosing a road less travelled after breast cancer, the importance of who it is we rely upon to define blackness, a truth revealed if not universally received, the damage we do by casting women as the natural instigators of sexual sin, using the recognition of what we have to foster connection, a higher ideal for news media, and Rainbow Rowell:
Our underground Beatles sessions continued for the next few weeks and once, while we were singing, I crossed the line. You can’t expect hormonal teenagers to have secret meetings without something happening. Unlike Angela Chase and Jordan Catalano meeting in the janitor’s closet for feverish making out, however, I placed my hand on his shoulder and then took it off as if he were an unattended stove. We did not speak of it.
Knowing what I do now, about complication rates and satisfaction scores, I'm not sure I would have gone down the reconstruction route in the first place. Ironically, three years after losing my breasts and letting go of "conventional" standards of beauty, I feel more confident than ever. And I got to that point not through obtaining surgically constructed lumps on my chest, but rather by discovering that I am still me without them.
What does it even mean to be Black?
These are complex questions that are difficult to answer. But, they are our questions to answer. Because the question of what it means to be Black is a Black question, full stop.
"(Re)birth Defect: When Vindication Comes 39 Years Too Late" by Karrie Higgins at A True Testimony:
I have a birth defect, but I didn’t know it until I was 39 years old.
I was waiting in an examination room for MRI results when my neurologist walked in, climbed atop the patient table without so much as a nod, flipped open a manila folder, and said, “Has anyone ever told you that you have a brain deformity?”
These religious doctrines, all of which indict female bodies as the fuel for the rapist’s fire, are not just an unfortunate backdrop to the crimes they excuse. These doctrines are the institutionalized sexual violation of women…
To teach generation after generation of men that they are not responsible for their urges and impulses is to light the fuse on a ticking time bomb. Over and over again it predictably explodes.
It is gratifying to believe that we are the sole operating agents of our own lives… It is unsettling to imagine the great fortune we have in a confluence of circumstances that is entirely outside of our control. It undermines the distinction between us and those less fortunate. It is scary, because it makes us just like the young woman with damaged feet, only luckier.
Utopian ideas aren't meant to be immediately practical. That's precisely why they are so useful: they take our minds off the problems of the here and now and offer us a grander vision of what there is to aim for.
And because you are a fan of finding good, new writing online: