This article is part of Times Opinion’s Holiday Giving Guide 2021. For other ideas on where to donate this year, please see the rest of our guide here.
I am a big believer that some of the most important and impactful work we can do as citizens takes place in our own communities. I think we have an obligation to get involved on the local level, whether that is commenting at a City Council meeting or serving on a city commission or organizing with friends and neighbors to improve your street or block. I think this also extends to giving; we should focus our efforts on those around us.
To that end, I want to share some organizations that are doing good work in the Charlottesville, Va., area, where I live. Each one attends to a different need and each one is worthy of your support.
The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center works to preserve and honor the heritage and legacy of the African American community of Charlottesville and its surrounding counties, as well as provide educational and other resources to residents and scholars in the area. (Disclosure: The Jefferson School once held an exhibition of my photography as part of its rotating collection.)
Among many other things, the Legal Aid Justice Center helps low-income Charlottesville residents receive health care and public benefits, advocates for immigrants at work and in the courts, and fights to improve access to affordable housing in the area.
Birth Sisters of Charlottesville works to improve outcomes for Black, Indigenous and other mothers of color by providing prenatal, labor, lactation and postpartum support.
Cultivate Charlottesville works with young people and community organizations to plant gardens, share food and work on behalf of a more just food system.
Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry provides food assistance to families and individuals in need in Charlottesville and surrounding communities.
The Blue Ridge Abortion Fund works to help individuals who need help paying for abortion and other reproductive health care.
The Piedmont Housing Alliance both fights for affordable housing in the area and assists individuals and families in finding high-quality and affordable housing.
I hope you decide to give to these organizations or are inspired to look for people doing good work in your own community.
What I Wrote
My Tuesday column was on how the lack of freedom in the American workplace can have deadly consequences for workers.
With that in mind, to say that most workers are subject to unaccountable “private government” is to make clear the authoritarian character of the American workplace. And it is to remind ourselves that in the absence of any countervailing force, the bosses and managers who wield that authority can force workers into deadly environments and life-threatening situations, or force them to remain in them.
My Friday column was one part a commemoration of Tyler Stovall, an award-winning historian of France who died last week, and one part an exploration of his last book, “White Freedom: A Racial History of an Idea.”
What makes Stovall’s work so valuable at this moment, and what makes his death such a heavy loss, is that his study of “white freedom” helps illuminate the stakes of the present and the ongoing struggle over the meaning of American democracy. It is a fight, for some, to be free (or at least more free) of domination and hierarchy, and a fight, for others, to be free to dominate on the basis of those hierarchies.
The last two weeks have seen the deaths of two luminaries of Black American letters and intellectual life. Greg Tate, a critic, musician and producer, died on Dec. 7 at the age of 64. bell hooks, a scholar, author, activist and educator, died on Wednesday at the age of 69. Titans both, they were loved and admired and will be greatly missed. To honor their lives, I thought I would use the “Now Reading” section this week to share some of their work.
From bell hooks:
“From Skepticism to Feminism,” originally published in the February 1990 edition of The Women’s Review of Books.
“The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators,” from the 1999 book “Feminist Film Theory: A Reader.”
“Feminism and Militarism: A Comment,” from the fall 1995 edition of The Women’s Studies Quarterly.
From Greg Tate:
“Cult-Nats Meet Freaky-Deke: The Coming of Age of the Post-Nationalist Black Aesthetic,” originally published Dec. 9, 1986, in The Village Voice.
“Jean-Michel Basquiat, Flyboy in the Buttermilk,” originally published Nov. 14, 1989, in The Village Voice.
“Michael Jackson: The Man in Our Mirror,” originally published July 1, 2009, in The Village Voice.
Photo of the Week
I was going through my archive (of sorts) and found this photo that I took in Boley, Okla., one of the state’s few remaining “Black towns” founded at the start of the 20th century. My original edit for this photo was to make it black and white, but I think it works much better as a color photograph, with an emphasis on the reds and blues.
Now Eating: Thai-Inspired Chicken Meatball Soup
I don’t have any notes for this recipe. It’s good! Easy to put together and popular, at least, with my toddler. I served it over jasmine rice with a simple green salad on the side. Recipe comes from NYT Cooking.
1 (4-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 pounds ground chicken
1 large bunch cilantro, leaves and stems finely chopped, a few whole leaves reserved for serving
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil, plus more as needed
2 cups chicken broth
1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
5 ounces baby spinach
1 tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
Steamed white or brown rice, for serving
Using the small holes of a box grater, or a Microplane, grate the ginger, garlic and jalapeño (or finely chop them by hand). Transfer half to a large bowl and set the rest aside. To the large bowl, add the chicken, finely chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 1 teaspoon salt. Use your hands or a fork to fully combine but do not overmix.
Use your hands or an ice cream scoop to form 2-inch meatballs (about 2 ounces each). In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the meatballs in a single layer and cook, flipping halfway through, until golden brown on two sides, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat, adding oil as needed.
Once all the meatballs are browned and out of the pot, if the oil is burned, wipe it out and add a bit more to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium, add the reserved ginger mixture and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, sugar and the remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs and any juices from the plate, and simmer until the flavors come together and the meatballs are cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes.
Remove from heat, and stir in the spinach and lime juice. Divide rice among bowls, then top with meatballs, broth and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
This article is part of Times Opinion’s Holiday Giving Guide 2021. If you are interested in any organization mentioned in the giving guide, please go directly to its website. Neither the authors nor The Times will be able to address queries about the groups or facilitate donations.