Jul 14, 2016

Fwd: It’s time to embrace the singular "they," a humanistic pronoun 🌈




Culture Shift is a weekly newsletter curated by the HuffPost Culture writers and editors.

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This week we're talking about the phrase "Dumpster Fire," the women playwrights who deserve your attention, how incarcerated youth are making their voices heard through art, Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst's "Relationship," the expansion of #EduHam, and our new Tumblr video series on YA authors.

 

How Artists Are Supporting #BlackLivesMatter In The Wake Of Brutality

 
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In the moments just after tragedy, words can seem insufficient in expressing the shock, anger, and despair a person might feel.

Following the brutal deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two black men shot and killed by police officers this week, many people ― artists in particular ― took to social media (and the streets) to share images of support for black lives, along with impassioned calls for justice and action.

The art that spread, across Twitter and Instagram and beyond, communicates complex feelings that speech might not. (Read more here and here.)

 

It's Time To Embrace The Singular 'They,' A Humanistic Pronoun

 

But about that pronoun: The singular "they" is the linguistic equivalent of tearing down gendered bathroom signs, along with the less invisible but more harmful dividers that stand between men, women, and people who identify as non-binary. It's a way of eschewing labels when they're irrelevant to a story or sentence, and is one of a few alternatives to gendered pronouns, including invented descriptors ne/nem/nir, xe/xem/xyr and ve/vis/ver.

As with most social developments, accepting the singular "they" or one of its substitutes may have growing pains. Using a plural word to describe an individual might feel like cause for pedantic wrist-slapping, and so your Pavlovian response is to avoid it. But rejiggering an old word to make it different and purposeful is a switch that's more likely to catch on than introducing a new word entirely. This is how pronouns have changed for centuries: incrementally. (Read more here.)

 

'Fairytale' Paintings Show A Side Of Black Lives History Overlooks

 

Sherald's paintings are full of strength, the kind gleaned from vulnerability, and topped off with the whimsical imagination that can prevail over suffering and hardship. Although rooted in history, Sherald uses the past as a point of ascent, replacing the conventional modes of blackness and whiteness with so many shades of charcoal.

As the artist put it: "We get the same stories of who we are ― stories filled with pain, oppression and struggle. But there are other sides to black lives that are not often represented. I'm painting these people." (Read more here.)

 

'A Modern Study Of Hair' Celebrates Women's Connections To Their Locks

 

Think of a woman you love — your partner, maybe, or your mother. Now, imagine her hair. Is it thick, rich, beautifully braid-able? Is it cropped short above her neck, setting one of the most intimate parts of her body on view?

The boundless opportunity for hairstyling makes a person's hair one of the most expressive parts of her (or his) body. It can be a color-ready palette, a moldable sculpture, a gorgeous ready-made, or a work of art representing her family before her. Which is why photographer Tara Bogart's series "A Modern Study of Hair" is compelling in its simplicity. (Read more here.)

Artist Creates An Imaginary History Of Queerness From Found Photos

 

Two women posing for a photograph, hands casually intertwined. Two men donning swim trunks and a lei, their arms draped across one another.

These moments, forever immortalized through the snap of a camera, didn't necessarily capture queer life in the early 20th century. In fact, most likely, they did not. But for artist Kris Sanford, these found photos provided a space to carve out a queer visual history where one did not before exist, transforming her own narrative from one of otherness to togetherness. (Read more here.)

Welcome To The Library Hiding In A Garden Hiding In New York City

 

The earliest book ever published on American insects (1797, for the record) sits in a massive library in the Bronx, and fewer people than should be are aware of its existence. And we're talking about the library, not the book. (Read more here.)

 

Photographer Depicts The Ways Hijab And Niqab Can Empower Women

For many on the outside looking in, the hijab, niqab, burqa and other types of coverings are symbols of maltreatment and oppression, of free will covered up. And yet to Yumna Al-Arashi, they are something totally different. (Read more here.)

 

Book of the Week!

Jade Sharma's raw and powerful debut shows a young woman whose life is spiraling out of control. (Read more here.)

 
 

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