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Searching for understanding and joy in the midst of an uprising...

Searching for understanding and joy in the midst of an uprising...
By Jewel Wicker • Issue #2 • View online

Welcome to As Told To. I’m Jewel Wicker, a freelance entertainment and culture reporter whose work has appeared in Billboard, Atlanta Magazine, Pitchfork, The Hollywood Reporter, Teen Vogue, etc. Every other Wednesday, I publish this newsletter, featuring my most recent work (as well as a behind-the-scenes look at my reporting process), and timely commentary on what’s going on in entertainment and media. I’ll also include a list of music, books, recipes and other content I’m personally engaging with.
The Tale of Two Atlantas
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly two weeks since I sat in front of the television and watched a cop car burn in the middle of downtown Atlanta. Watching the uprising, terrified of what was to come, I found myself a bit annoyed with the narrative that was being portrayed about the city, specifically in a press conference held by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. In a now-viral moment, rapper T.I. said:
“This city don’t deserve this. However, I understand that a lot of others do. But, we can’t do this here. This is Wakanda. This is sacred, it’s supposed to be protected.”
Last Friday I published an article in Atlanta Magazine, that uses the speeches of T.I. and Killer Mike from the press conference to explore the city’s complicated history as both a mecca and a “capital of U.S. equality.” I also ponder what role Atlanta’s hip-hop elite should play in activism with the city.
The piece was commissioned by an editor I’ve worked with throughout my career as a freelancer (and even during my days as an intern right after college) based on this tweet:
Jewel Wicker
You have to consider the class divide in Atlanta, not just race. That might help explain why some people don’t care that TI and Killer Mike own half the west side.
I was raised in a middle class household by my mother in southwest Atlanta. In a sense, obtaining success in the “Black Mecca” always felt within reach for me. But the SWATS is also the birthplace of the Dungeon Family and groups like Goodie Mob and Outkast, whose earlier work documented the life of working-class Black Atlantans. It’s not only possible to acknowledge both of those experiences when reporting on the city, it’s essential.
I’ve compiled a list of some other works that engage with the concept of “two Atlantas” for anyone interested in learning more:
-“East Lake Meadows” (Ken Burns documentary) on PBS
-Killer Mike, T.I. and Atlanta’s Black misleadership class (Written by Devyn Springer) via Independent
-Why Goodie Mob’s Soul Food’ is the greatest Atlanta rap album of all time (Written by Rodney Carmichael) via Creative Loafing
Noteworthy News:
HBO Max removed “Gone with the Wind” temporarily until it can “return with a discussion of its historical context.” This news made me want to remind y’all of two things:
  1. The time Naomi Campbell, André Leon Talley and a host of other fashion icons reimagined the film for a photoshoot titled “Scarlett in the Hood” in Vanity Fair. (Narrator: Scarlett isn’t in the hood.)
  2. It also makes me think of the SUPERB Sporkful episode “When White People Say Plantation.” I was having dinner at Old Vinings Inn the first time I encountered a drink that utilized the word “plantation” a few years ago. I was immediately appalled, but I had no idea this was a common trend until I listened to this podcast. The Sporkful episode is so good because it notes that many of the people in the culinary world who reference “plantation” in their product names (often to evoke a sense of leisure and carelessness…not slavery…Go figure.) aren’t even from the South. Many of them say their romanticized ideas of plantation life come from pop culture, including movies such as Gone with the Wind.
    It continues to boggle my mind that people can conjure up an image of a rich and leisurely life while completely ignoring the pain and suffering that enabled said lifestyle, but I highly recommend listening to “When White People Say Plantation.” It’s one of the most thoughtful podcast episodes I’ve heard in the past year.
Fleeting Moments of Joy:
-While I was preparing to interview Kirk Franklin (article here) last week, I revisited some of his old music videos including the one for “Revolution,” a clear homage to the hip-hop videos from the late ‘90s.
Kirk Franklin - Revolution (Official Video)
Kirk Franklin - Revolution (Official Video)
-This pizza, made in a cast iron skillet, is PERFECTLY crispy and cheesy. Unplug from the news for a few hours and enjoy.
-Have I been walking around my house singing this bop and “Go! Go! Go! Who’s Next?” for the past week in between moments of immense sadness? Yes. Absolutely.
Recent Reads:
-Cops Are Always the Main Characters by Kathryn VanArendonk for Vulture
A worthwhile look at how the framing of police on television has contributed to society’s overall perception of them. (Soraya McDonald’s “Can ‘Bad Boys’ Become Good Men” for The Undefeated earlier this year is also a good read that looks at the “Bad Boys” film franchise in the Black Lives Matter era.)
-Black Communities Have Always Used Food as Protest by Amethyst Ganaway for Food & Wine
This article explores how food has “played a role as a source of both comfort and strength for a people constantly subject to abuse, discrimination, and misunderstanding.”
-“The Chiffon Trenches” by André Leon Talley
I didn’t love this book, if I’m being honest. I’m definitely more Andy Sachs (in the beginning of “The Devil Wears Prada”) than I am Miranda Priestly, so it’s possible that all of the name dropping just didn’t fascinate me. I thought the documentary “The Gospel According To André” (on Hulu) did a better job of contextualizing André’s upbringing in the segregated south before delving into his eventual rise as a Black man in an industry dominated by white designers and editors.
-“Hood Feminism” by Mikki Kendall
I cannot recommend this book enough. It argues that in order for feminism to truly be intersectional we must consider issues such as gun violence, food and housing insecurity to be feminist issues.
Note: I am SO grateful for everyone who subscribed to this newsletter. I’m excited to build this community and serve as a fun resource for readers interested in media, entertainment and culture.
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Jewel Wicker

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