The W List 7.06.12


VOLUME IX. 7.06.12

We hereby present to you the Wondaland W LIST….a funky gathering of remarkable art i facts and experiences guaranteed to keep you balanced and on the tightrope for at least the next seven days…

(in no particular order, but arrayed in a fashion to make you smile)


1. The Book That Cannot Wait


2. Blackface Rears its Ugly Head…Again

This group is called The Bubble Sisters. They are a pop girl group from South Korea who were told that, despite their considerable talent, they’d never make it in the industry unless they come up with an attention-grabbing gimmick because they are not pretty enough. The group decided to base their gimmick on being ugly, talented and proud of it, so they thought blackface would be the best way to communicate to their audience that they are ugly. And talented. And proud.


3. Paula M.L. Moya’s Interview with Junot Diaz

After gulping down this interview as quickly as possible and suffering through the resulting brainfreeze, we have spent the week savoring little bits and mouthfuls of it. And it has sustained us. Here are some excerpts:

“Think about that final line in [Frantz] Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks: ‘O my body, make me always a man who questions!’ I remember reading these sisters and suddenly realizing (perhaps incorrectly but it felt right to me at the time) that women-of-color writers were raising questions about the world, about power, about philosophy, about politics, about history, about white supremacy, because of their raced, gendered, sexualized bodies; they were wielding a genius that had been cultivated out of their raced, gendered, sexualized subjectivities. And what they were producing in knowledge was something that the world needed to hear in order to understand itself, that I needed to hear in order to understand myself in the world…”

“One of the arguments that the book makes about Oscar is that he ain’t getting laid because he’s fat and nerdy. That might be part of it, but that is also a way of hiding other possibilities. Perhaps one of the reasons Oscar ain’t getting laid is because he is the son of a survivor of horrific sexual violence. In the same way that there is intergenerational transfer of trauma from mothers who are rape victims to their daughters, there is also intergenerational transfer of rape trauma between mothers and their sons. But most readers don’t notice how Oscar embodies some of the standard reactions of young rape victims to their violations.”

And, finally, a description of his new novel; one of two works-in-progress:

Monstro is an apocalyptic story. An end of the world story set in the DR of the near future. It’s a zombie story. (On that island, how could it not be?) It’s an alien invasion story. It’s a giant monster story. It’s about the Great Powers (China, the United States) attempting to contain the growing infestation by re-invading the Island for, what, the twelfth time? I always say if people on my island know about anything they know about the end of the world…I have of this fourteen-year-old girl, a poor, black, Dominican girl, half-Haitian— one of the Island’s damnés—saving the world. It’s a book is about this girl’s search for—yes—love in a world that has made it its solemn duty to guarantee that poor raced ‘conventionally unattractive’ girls like her are never loved.”


4. D’Angelo Tours the US

At long last, D’Angelo trusts his US audience enough to tour here. He played the House of Blues in LA on the Fourth of July. Here’s a lil snippet of D’Angelo genius for that a$$:


5. On Closets and Independence

Frank Ocean and Diana King declared their independence on the Fourth of July. As closet doors swung open in Black entertainment, they let in light, and love, and fresh air; and let out free people.

Frank Ocean, singer/songwriter, writes a thank you letter on his tumblr page that describes the first time he fell in love. Dream Hampton writes a beautiful response that mirrors Wondaland’s sentiments.

Diana King, aka KingSinga, Jamaican singer/songwriter best known for her hit “Shy Guy” and her cover of “Say a Little Prayer for You” declares YES! I AM A LESBIAN on Facebook.

In other news, Queen Latifah released a statement disconfirming her LGBTQ status, and the Based God Lil B continues to play on words. Take your time; your identity is yours to tell.


6. The Music of Gary Clark, Jr.

Every time I see this guy live, it takes me somewhere new.


7. Ghost Cities

All over the world, from Spain to the US to Angola to Mongolia, there are newly built, carefully engineered, thoughtfully laid-out cities. Satellite imagery show these cities with housing, parks, government buildings, schools, roads, sanitation, communications capabilities–and no residents. This phenomenon that we have in the States of rampant homelessness and equally rampant empty homes (from foreclosures and/or over-development) is not unique to our economy. In China, Mongolia and Angola, the ghost cities have in common that they were all built by the same Chinese state-owned development corporation.

The media has spun this “Chinese Ghost Cities” story in a couple of different ways: first, there is the spin that Chinese developers are terrified of their bosses and have to prove that they’re building developments at the rate of 20 cities per year for 20 years, so they just build them in the middle of nowhere even though there’s nobody living in them. Second, there is the spin that the Chinese ‘are planning something’ (cue villain music).  The third spin is that they are building cities in every location they plan to take over. I personally don’t believe that “the Chinese” are a billion robot people with a single mind; there are probably lots of reasons for each of the developments. One Chinese report states that the cities were built to encourage families to move out of the overcrowded urban centers and into these ‘rural cities’. Our question right now is “Why isn’t it working?”


8. Serena Williams’ Comeback

This week, at Wimbledon in London, Serena Williams defeated Victoria Azarenka, a debilitating foot injury, and death. In the year since her last Wimbledon appearance, this phenomenal athlete survived two blood clots in her heart and returned to the court as magnificent as ever.


9. The Art of Nicole Dixon

Excerpt from her Artist’s Statement:

Art is my method of processing my experiences living in this skin and in this world. I work through, sort out, piece together, analyze, arrange, rearrange, construct, deconstruct, and communicate what I experience and perceive as a woman, an African-American, and a human. My work is about personal and social examination, such as the relationships between women and men, joy and suffering, intimacy and distance, the past and the future, the sacred and the profane, and the spaces in between.

See more of her work here.


10. The Unintentional Immortality of Henrietta Lacks

In 1951, a tobacco farmer by the name of Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Her doctor extracted a portion of the tumor and donated it to a lab for testing–without Mrs. Lacks’ knowledge or consent. In fact, the only reason that the family of Mrs. Lacks ever learned that her cells were being used was that, 25 years after she died, her cells were still living, still creating, and still giving life, and the scientists that had been experimenting with them wanted more of them. They were given the code name HeLa cells, and lies abounded as to where they were from and how they were collected.

For decades, many cell cultures thought to be from other tissue types, including breast and prostate cells, were in fact HeLa cells. They went up in the first space missions to see what would happen to cells in zero gravity.  They could float on dust particles in the air and travel on unwashed hands and contaminate other cultures. They are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.


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