I work in fast food — cleaning, grilling, smiling — and I know why you don’t want me to earn $15 an hour

Photo: John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images

Past midnight, or at 2 a.m. on the weekends, our fast-food place closes its doors and we use the next hour to clean up and put everything back in its place. Recently, we got an additional task, sorting through the trash to meet new recycling requirements: plastic in the yellow trash can, food in the red one. “We grill burgers, not the Earth” was the gist of the initiative, an effort to address the fast-food industry’s impact on the planet.

We’ve been working overtime ever since. The stacking of task on top of task takes its toll. No amount of…

You and I Need to Read This

You and I need to read more about the long tradition of indigenous resistance and what it can teach us in our fight against climate change


Welcome to the You and I Need to Read This series, in which I take a book on my bookshelf that I still haven’t read, and explain through a bit of meandering why I, and consequently you, should read it right now. My goal with this series is to foster an active reading habit, which is partly in my own self-interest because I have a habit of buying or borrowing books without reading them. I’ll usually have read some snippets of the book from the back cover and some articles about the book or the author. …

Please, forgive me, umpteenth book I’ve checked out of the library and never read, but I might borrow you again later

Photo by Anna Hunko on Unsplash

Dear [insert most book titles],

I talk about you the way a 12-year-old talks about their new girlfriend who goes to a different school — a lot, in both great detail and impressive vagueness. I know what you’re about. I judge you by your cover and I do it well. I know which kind of reader would enjoy reading you. But more importantly, I know exactly how good you are (so good) and how important (so important) it is to read you right now.

I like to joke about our strictly aesthetic relationship right now, but if past me could…

The act of writing is excruciating but trying to make it in the writing industry is also excruciating

Screenshot from my Twitter search history

I reinstalled Twitter on my phone and now my search history on this godforsaken app only consists of “Medium buyout.” Every day I check back in to see who else will be leaving Medium next week as a result of Ev Williams’ bombshell of an email. Gut-wrenching doesn’t even begin to describe how it feels to watch the editorial team slowly bleed out of my favorite writing and journalistic platform on the internet.

I’m biased, of course. My writing was born right here on this platform. Medium helped me dive straight into the uncharted waters of self-publishing and ignited my…

Whenever I feel defeated, this poem reminds me that failure isn’t the end of everything

The Fall of Icarus

I might have gotten a little too interested in the stock market since this whole Gamestop thing started in late January. I guess I dig deeper into something I know nothing about only when it hits the Twitter trends. (I’m basic like that.) Anyway.

A while after the stock market became part of pop culture, I set up a trading account, put some money dollars on it, and promptly lost some of those money dollars. Yikes. I’d like to say I was pretty chill about the whole thing because I always knew that my capital would be at risk, but…

I’m also a fledgling academic, by the way (sorry)

I got to read some of Virginia Woolf’s work in the middle of a global pandemic. Here’s my meager contribution to the century-old advice that is “Read Woolf’s work! What are you waiting for?!”

Book cover for “On Being Ill” by Virginia Woolf

Reading Virginia Woolf’s essay “On Being Ill” in COVID times is a split-screen exercise. On one side, roughly a century ago, a few years after the Spanish flu pandemic, there is very little literature on the subject of illness; but on the other side, today amid the Covid-19 pandemic, illness is all we talk, read and write about. Her essay becomes a transitional point between then and now, as we realize that her work spearheaded the popularization of illness narratives in both fiction and nonfiction.

In her 1926 essay, Woolf laments the dearth of literature that tackles illness: “English, which…

The pandemic-induced eviction crisis should bring back memories of a movement that fought for free housing for all

Notting Hill, London, 1977. Photo by Roger Perry

In Sisterhood and Squatting in the 1970s, Christine Hall gives a dystopian yet accurate description of some boroughs in London. “To walk through Islington, Camden, and Hackney in the early 1970s was to walk along street after street of soot-blackened, late Georgian and Victorian terraces and villas boarded up and left semi-derelict.” Our collective consciousness isn’t trained to think that such a description could be attached to any area in London, so, how’d that happen?

After World War II, Britain had to map out how entire cities would be rebuilt because German bombing had inflicted significant damage to urban areas…

The impulse to laugh at the expense of others is a white privilege that people of color inappropriately want to reach sometimes. Here’s how it manifested as a war was about to break out

Disaster Girl meme

I learned the word ‘empathy’ in the third grade when my White teacher told us, “Do not waste food! Think about the poor little kids in Africa who don’t have any.” All of my classmates, who were all white, thought I was from there. I guess I fit the profile. It’s weird to think that when I was eight years old, my classmates were taught to pity kids from a far-away land whose only characteristic was poverty. Consequently, they must have pitied me, too.

Back at home, my brothers and I needed to eat everything on our plate before leaving…

A scathing indictment of white feminists’ perpetuation of racism proves that contributions to Black feminism are still relevant 40 years later

A group of women, under a ‘Women’s Liberation’ banner, march in support of the Black Panther Party, New Haven, Conn., November 1969. David Fenton — Getty Images

In the early years of the Women’s Liberation Movement, Black lives didn’t exist. When they did, they were only used as props and disposable objects to further the ideologies of “universal” (read: white) feminism. Hazel V. Carby, scholar and pioneer of Black feminism, reflects this idea in an article appropriately entitled “White Woman Listen! Black Feminism and the Boundaries of Sisterhood”, in which she calls for white feminists to consider race in their theorizing of women’s oppression in a patriarchal society. …

Countless spaces are labeled as ‘Black’ but they’re not entirely ours. How do we reclaim them?

Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

“Why is the African collection on the lowest floor?” I ask a security guard at the British Museum. Every other collection gets sunlight, but Africa is buried underground, hidden beneath the fire exits, accessible only if you want to look for it. The guard tells me it’s probably because the museum acquired this collection last, so instead of building a fourth floor, they dug deeper.

When I visit the National Museum of Scotland I wait for my group of friends to wander off so I can take a picture of the Art of African Metalwork exhibition. As the picture snaps…

Assad Abderemane

English graduate student and freelance writer based in France. Words at Level, Elemental, Gen, Human Parts, etc. Email: abderemane.m.assad@gmail.com

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