—Sam Adler-Bell focuses on labor and mass incarceration.
“Stuart Hall's cultural legacy: Britain under the microscope,” by Stuart Jeffries. The Guardian, February 10, 2014
Almost all obituaries of Jamaican-born theorist Stuart Hall—who died this week—describe him as the “godfather of multiculturalism.” And although accurate in a certain way, it’s a misleading honorific, conjuring (for those unfamiliar with Hall) an image of a hopeful, liberal theorist of global diversity and pluralism. He was not. Hall invented the vocabulary with which we talk about culture and power today. And his critical work, inextricably linking race, capitalism and empire, can surely not be reduced to the stock image of “Happy Smiling Multicultural Kids Holding Hands.” But Stuart Jeffries’s piece makes me think that maybe "godfather" is the right word, in that Hall was there from the beginning, but he can’t be blamed for how the kid turned out.
—Dustin Christensen focuses on Latin American politics and sports.
“Running Wild, Wheelies to the Wind,” by Mekado Murphy. The New York Times, January 26, 2014
Although the film premiered over two weeks ago, it took me until yesterday to watch this excellent documentary. 12 O'Clock Boys is director Lotfy Nathan's debut film about packs of young dirt-bikers in Baltimore, told through the eyes of an aspiring young rider named Pug. The boys, riding on four-wheelers and dirt bikes, tear through Baltimore like aggressive, motorized Critical Mass cyclists reclaiming the streets. Most of their sport is about the desire to show off: popping wheelies, speeding, taunting and evading police in groups of up to a hundred. The boys derive a lot of empowerment and joy from these rides, a sharp contrast to the quotidian hardships of life in their blighted neighborhoods in Baltimore. While the film and the "gangs" (a problematic word, as many of the boys ride bikes as an alternative to gang life) certainly have their detractors, 12 O'Clock Boys provides an insightful portrait of a subculture born of social and economic marginalization in urban America.