Our Friend Angela | Soviet Schoolchildren, a Letter-Writing Campaign, and the Legend of Angela Davis

Yana Skorobogatov

Several years ago, I found myself sitting at a desk in the main reading room of Stanford University’s Hoover Library. The box in front of me contained thousands of unopened letters, their thin red, white, and blue envelopes stacked indiscriminately. All were postmarked in the winter of 1972, and written in languages of the former Soviet Union: Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Ukrainian, Kazakh. Most notably, all were addressed to Angela...

First World Problems | The Politics of Development Aid in Britain

Helena Roy

By June this year, the UK had surpassed 40,000 deaths from Covid-19. That same month also marked the end of a quarter in which the nation’s GDP shrunk by 20.4 percent, leaving the country firmly in the grip of a recession. At the same time, social movements percolated across the globe: Black Lives Matter protests had reached London, Birmingham, Manchester, and more UK cities following the death of George Floyd....

American Accident | All the Presidents' Movies

Rebecca Panovka

Surveying the canon of schlocky president movies will tell you there are two things a Hollywood audience loves: drama with the first daughter (kidnapped? new boyfriend?!), and an accidental president. The former can be explained away through our nostalgia for monarchy, or at least for princess tales; the latter by our democratic ideals.  The accidental president is a pipe dream — an unthreatening premise from which to launch a political...

AND WHO WOULD YOU PREFER TOLD THE STORY? | Poetry

Sasha Debevec-McKenney

I swear I work so hard not to feel anything. Fires surround the Reagan Library anyways. Across the entire country ten pigeons fight over bread in my street, flying away then regaining territory against the cars and buses and again against each other. Last spring, in a ring outside the Ronald Reagan Library, a crew of 500 goats put their heads down and ate and ate and ate and ate...

Tell Me About the Weather | Fiction

Sarahana Shrestha

They’ve thrown this party for twenty years and counting. I haven’t missed once. Some of us have divorced, some have left the country, others are joined by their children, and I’ve had my only one die.  The party is Christmas-themed and takes place on Christmas Eve, which means something to only two kinds of people in this country. There’s the poor, misplaced by every one of our 33 million gods...

Far-Flung Commiserators | Jubilee Gestures and Revolutionary Stirrings in Black Lives Matter

Lake Micah

“This is the fire that terrifies our pitiful enemies. That not only are we alive but shatteringly precise in our songs and our scorn.”—Amiri Baraka “But what I'd like to know / Is could a place like this exist, so beautiful?”—Stevie Wonder The condition of our history is one of abject reduction—to metonyms and to misapprehensions, to causes and to effects, to trite little truisms: a surfeit of errant narratives...

#MeToo’s Strike Test | The Harvard Graduate Student Union and the Limits of "Time’s Up" Organizing

Ege Yumusak

A Zoom handshake made it official: last Monday, Harvard University and its student workers’ union agreed on a year-long contract after two years of negotiations and one strike. This week, our 4,500 rank-and-file members—doctoral, masters, and J.D. students, as well as several hundred undergraduate course assistants—will vote to ratify the contract.  As a member of the union bargaining committee, I watched as Harvard slow-rolled the negotiation process over the course...

Drug Money | The Race for a Vaccine

Noah Kulwin

Speaking at a biotechnology conference on June 9 via livestream, Anthony Fauci told the virtually assembled audience that the novel coronavirus pandemic had turned out to be his worst nightmare. Among the few bright spots, America’s best-known immunologist observed, was the pharmaceutical industry’s commitment to developing a vaccine: “The industry is not stupid.” After all, Fauci reasoned, “there’s going to be more than one winner in the vaccine field because...

“More Precisely Revolution” | Notes from the Protests Worldwide

Deshawn McKinney, Henry Shah, Kaamya Varagur, Lily Bou, Shaj Mohan, Zuneera Shah

After a season of lockdowns and social distancing, people are taking to the streets. The U.S. has seen large-scale and widespread uprisings after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the latest in a series of Black victims of police brutality. Solidarity protests calling for racial justice have spread across the world. Meanwhile, uprisings continue in Hong Kong, Pakistan, India, and elsewhere. In an ongoing series, The Drift is...

The Cure and the Disease | Social Darwinism from AIDS to Covid-19

Erik Baker

It was not how anyone expected Bill Hamilton to die. In 1999, Hamilton was celebrating his fifteenth year as a research professor in evolutionary biology at Oxford, where he had cultivated a reputation for unconventional, mathematically sophisticated theorizing. He had recently received both the Crafoord Prize and the Kyoto Prize, arguably the two most prestigious awards for scientists in fields not eligible for the Nobel. His wife had moved out,...

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