Attention Economics

Why Celebrities are Losing Their Minds (Clarkisha Kent)

There are so many ways I could sum up this interesting phenomenon I’ve observed since “social distancing” has taken hold. But if I were to give it a definition, I’d call it the act of a celebrity doing completely nonsensical things that do not meet the immediate and/or material needs that a crisis like a pandemic calls for. And this is never to help. No. This is merely to gain the attention that has been deprived of them due to the crisis.

While we, the plebeians, deal in the currency of physical money, celebrities deal in the currency of attention. Attention is their “money” and it’s the economy they bow down to. This is because attention—or the amount of it—is converted directly into power, money, and bourgeoisie-level access. And the goal is to amass as much of it as they can and as quickly as they can.

Wear a Mask

Why We Should All Wear Masks (Sui Huang)

Intuition suggests that even an imperfect mask may offer some protection, that is at least in the range of the recommended separation by more than 6 feet in social interactions or washing hands or not touching your face — all recommendation based on mechanistic plausibility without strong epidemiological support.

A Description

A Medical Worker Describes COVID-19 (Lizzie Presser)

Since last week, he’s been running ventilators for the sickest COVID-19 patients. Many are relatively young, in their 40s and 50s, and have minimal, if any, preexisting conditions in their charts. He is overwhelmed, stunned by the manifestation of the infection, both its speed and intensity. The ICU where he works has essentially become a coronavirus unit. 

“And once I saw these patients with it, I was like, Holy shit, I do not want to catch this and I don’t want anyone I know to catch this.”

Slavery’s Fierce Undertow

Africa, America, and Slavery’s Fierce Undertow (Jacqueline Woodson)

Almost two weeks into my time in Ghana, my heart remains in my throat. There is nowhere in this country where the eye can land and the body not feel, at once, both a deep pain and an immense joy.

I think about what I’ve asked myself since landing on African soil. Can I belong here? Has this country truly called me home?

As true as an undertow, I feel the water pulling me back across it, taking me to where it took my ancestors centuries ago. To a land as foreign to them as the African chiefs who offered brown bodies over for weapons, brass and cotton. As foreign as the white captors who raped, brutalized and enslaved those same bodies. I feel the pull of the history that brought me here. And the history that took me away. A feeling as old as my body itself overcomes me — that I have never felt whole in one place. In Africa, like America, I am only halfway home. My body belonging to both and neither place.

How Shondaland Changed the Way We View Abortions on TV (Renee Bracey Sherman)

Yet the depictions on Shonda’s shows are a critical step forward because they take care to portray abortion not just as a safe and simple medical procedure, but as an experience that can connect people to each other, help people achieve their life goals, or as something a character does and then goes on her way, not thinking about it ever again.


What is Juneteenth?

“Of all Emancipation Day observances, Juneteenth falls closest to the summer solstice (this Friday, June 21), the longest day of the year, when the sun, at its zenith, defies the darkness in every state, including those once shadowed by slavery. By choosing to celebrate the last place in the South that freedom touched — reflecting the mystical glow of history and lore, memory and myth, as Ralph Ellison evoked in his posthumous novel, Juneteenth — we remember the shining promise of emancipation, along with the bloody path America took by delaying it and deferring fulfillment of those simple, unanticipating words in Gen. Granger’s original order No. 3: that ‘This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.'”

The Black American Holiday Everyone Should Celebrate, but Doesn’t

“Insofar that modern Americans celebrate the past, it’s to honor the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation or to celebrate the vision of the Founders. Both periods are worthy of the attention. But I think we owe more to emancipation and the Civil War. If we inaugurated freedom with our nation’s founding and defended it with World War II, we actualized it with the Civil War. Indeed, our struggle against slave power marks the real beginning of our commitment to liberty and equality, in word, if not always in deed.”

“Put another way, Juneteenth isn’t just a celebration of emancipation, it’s a celebration of that commitment. And, far more than our Independence Day, it belongs to all Americans.”