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Dublin: 3 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: The white woman who says she is 'transracial'

Grab a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Harry opens up

Graham Norton Show - London Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Harry Styles is most famous for being a member of One Direction. Now, he’s gone solo – and this revealing interview shows there’s a lot more depth to him than people give him credit for.

(Rolling Stone, approx 31 mins reading time)

Asked if he spends pressure-filled evenings worried about proving credibility to an older crowd, Styles grows animated. “Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing. There’s no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future.

2. Black and white

Rachel Dolezal made headlines worldwide when she was unmasked as a white woman presenting herself as black. Here, Ijeoma Oluo interviews her about what happened.

(The Stranger, approx 23 mins reading time)

I began to get nervous as the interview day approached. By the time I boarded a plane to Spokane, which is a one-hour flight from Seattle and is near the border with Idaho, a state that’s almost 90 percent white, I was half sure that this interview was my worst career decision to date. Initially, I had hoped that my research on Dolezal would reassure me that there was a way to find real value in this conversation, that there would be a way to actually turn this circus into a productive discussion on race in America.

3. Political barbecue

Can a S.C. barbecue family rise above their father's history of racism? Source: TNS/ABACA

Did you know that barbecue can be quite a political thing? Take the story of the Piggie Park, whose late owner was a white supremacist. In exploring his story, Lauren Collins also examines the role of barbecue in the American South.

(New Yorker, approx 35 mins reading time)

A whole hog can feed as many as a hundred people. Barbecues, often held on the Fourth of July, became overtly political in the nineteenth century. As Moss writes in “Barbecue: The History of an American Institution,” they were “the quintessential form of democratic public celebration, bringing together citizens from all stations to express and reaffirm their shared civic values.”

4. The reluctant gentrifier

When Eula Bliss moved to Rogers Park in Chicago, friends and family were worried. The diverse area was, they thought, dangerous to live in. Bliss watched as the area began to become more gentrified, and wondered about her role in it all.

(The Guardian, approx 25 mins reading time)

I looked back over my shoulder as I stepped into the street, and the boy passed on his bike so that I saw him looking back at me also, and then he yelled again, directly at me: “Don’t be afraid of us!” I wanted to yell back, “Don’t worry, we aren’t!” but I was, in fact, afraid to engage the boys, afraid to draw attention to my husband and myself, afraid of how my claim not to be afraid might be misunderstood as bravado begging a challenge, so I simply let my eyes meet the boy’s eyes before I turned, disturbed, toward the tall iron gate in front of my apartment building, a gate that gives the appearance of being locked but is in fact always open.

5. S-town

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 10.32.00

Have you listened to the podcast S-town? It’s from the makers of Serial and has proved to be incredibly popular. If you’ve listened to the whole thing, then there will be much for you to mull over in this roundtable about the series.

(, approx 19 mins reading time)

In the last few minutes, I couldn’t shake how finishing these seven hours of radio felt like polishing off a very good novel. It had the same quality of putting down Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet, or John Williams’s Stoner, in which details that had seemed so very important for so very long—the drama of daily life—fell away as the narrator pulled the camera higher and higher, dissolving everything with it. I also thought about how much we had all depended on the last episode of Serial to give us answers, and how we blamed it when it didn’t. I didn’t expect answers here, only fullness.

6. Forget the gym

Ever thought that your 9-5 just wasn’t what you wanted to do? When Mary Jennings realised that she needed to get out of office work, she went for it, setting up her own running programme called Forget The Gym. Her story will serve as an inspiration to many.

(, approx 16 mins reading time)

As part of her work, Jennings had done a career planning exercise one day related to mapping out her future within the company she was employed, and that was the point when everything clicked. She realised that it wasn’t the type of life she wanted to live and would rather pursue something that offered more flexibility and freedom: “As I looked at the pathway, I was thinking this is not compatible with the kind of lifestyle I’d like to have. That was the turning point, it made me realise ‘actually, I need a route out of this.”


Former NFL Star Aaron Hernandez Commits Suicide in Prison Source: Steven Senne/Pool

Earlier this week, the American football player Aaron Hernandez took his own life in prison. His life story is one of talent thwarted by violence.

(Sports Illustrated, approx 47 mins reading time)

But still. . . . Murder? D.J. does not press his brother for details. Before he can process the news privately it becomes public, streamed across the bottom of his TV as casually as CELTICS 62 76ERS 59. Police are investigating Aaron Hernandez in connection to a possible homicide. . . A nation is shocked. . . Odin Lloyd has been found shot to death in an industrial park near Aaron’s house. D.J. wants to hug him.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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