This stressful year shows no signs of stopping, with reasons to panic so myriad we're not even gonna get into them here. One thing's clear: we all need places to put our eyes and brains that distract us, soothe us, and ready us to engage with the scary stuff more effectively. To that end, here's the stuff filling our queues at Portland Monthly this week, from Eater to Edith Bouvier.
You may not feel like picking up Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. And yes, this book documents some of the worst of human behavior, so don’t expect some sweet distraction from our current ills. But if you have to read one book this year, I posit this should be it. Caste brings together so much of what we already know about the spine-chilling history of racism in America and gives us a new framework with which to examine it. From Nazis taking their cues from America’s Jim Crow laws to MLK’s welcome in India as one of our country’s “Untouchables,” Wilkerson brings global comparisons and perspective to our national shame, reshaping the story in a way that denies resignation.
Even if you don’t agree with her reframing of our racist systems as a caste structure, there is power in her nomenclature: people are not white here, they are from “the dominant caste.” And her crisp academic argument does not avoid the deep, human cost of the systems she describes. There is intellectual rigor here, and there is deeply empathic witness. The New York Times’s Dwight Garner described Caste as a book that “changes the weather inside a reader.” Be a reader. —Fiona McCann, senior editor at-large
Maybe this is cheating, but who cares? Hulu just dropped this seven-episode series, produced by food news site Eater, which begins in Portland and expands in scope to Casablanca and beyond. Beautiful food, gorgeous landscapes, and narration by Maya Rudolph—what more could a girl ask for. The show kicks off with a day in the life of PoMo's own Karen Brooks, and it winds around the world to satisfy both our collective wanderlust and our yearning for a time when bars were not a potential death sentence. Top-shelf escapism. —Conner Reed, arts & culture editor