In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do.
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[Senator Elizabeth] Warren should be applauded for her efforts to establish and enforce rules that end the theft and level the playing field for, hopefully, all race-classes, not just the White middle class. But if Warren succeeds, then the new economic system will operate in a fundamentally different way than it has ever operated before in American history. Either the new economic system will not be capitalist or the old system it replaces will not be capitalist. They cannot both be capitalist.
When Senator Warren and others define capitalism this way—as markets and market rules and competition and benefits from winning—they are disentangling capitalism from theft and racism and sexism and imperialism. If that’s their capitalism, I can see how they can remain capitalist to the bone. However, history does not affirm this definition of capitalism. Markets and market rules and competition and benefits from winning existed long before the rise of capitalism in the modern world. What capitalism introduced to this mix was global theft, racially uneven playing fields, unidirectional wealth that rushes upward in unprecedented amounts. Since the dawn of racial capitalism, when were markets level playing fields? When could working people compete equally with capitalists? When could Black people compete equally with White people? When could African nations compete equally with European nations? When did the rules not generally benefit the wealthy and White nations? Humanity needs honest definitions of capitalism and racism based in the actual living history of the conjoined twins.
Reader Rob Shapiro
Excerpt from How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
She nodded but she wasn’t listening. How many times could she be made a fool of? This would be the last, she swore. She made a big deal of her meatloaf—she never knew she could make up so many things to say about meatloaf—and then said she was too full for dessert, but all the while, she felt the viscous parts of herself being pushed out through her feet—she was leaving herself, she was all stone now. In the end, he did complain about the bill, and they split it precisely. She begged off to sleep, blaming jet lag. In the old rooms in the old hotel, everyone waited for a late snow that did not, in fact, arrive—though if it had, Brit doubted she would have felt it. She felt now completely outside herself, which is the most lonely you can feel, as it is impossible to name, impossible to point to, except that you can point to yourself, lying there on the bed, say: Look at her, who is she?
Editorial Assistant Suzie Eckl
Excerpt from The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
I’m going to go north. My grandparents once traveled a lot by car. They left us old road maps of just about every county in the state plus other several of other parts of the country.The newest of them is 40 years old, but that doesn’t matter. The roads will still be there. They’ll just be in worse shape than they were back when my grandparents drove a gas-fueled car over them. I’ve put maps of the California counties north of us and the few I could find of Washington and Oregon counties into my pack.
I wonder if there are people outside who will pay me to teach them reading and writing—basic stuff—or people who will pay me to read and write for them. Keith started me thinking about that. I might even be able to teach some Earthseed verses along with the reading and writing. Given any chance at all, teaching is what I would choose to do. Even if I have to take other kinds of work to get enough to eat, I can teach. If I do it well, it will draw people to me—to Earthseed.
All successful life is
I wrote that verse a few months ago. It’s true like all the verses. It seems more true than ever now, more useful to me when I’m afraid.
Editorial Assistant Dan Goff
Excerpt from Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler