Sunday, February 22, 2015

In February, I find the black hole of the internet particularly alluring. Sometimes I think I could do away with the constant scrolling and clicking all together but other times, I stumble upon some actual meaningful content. 

There are many articles that have stayed with me recently (The Shame of America’s Family Detention Camps by Wils S. Hylton, The Disappeared by John Gibler, What Can a Pregnant Photojournalist Cover? Everything. by Lynsey Addario, the late David Carr’s syllabus for his BU journalism class that was recently published) but sometimes I just have to stop reading. Stop taking in so much information. And when that happens, I open up Spotify and listen to Chance the Rapper or Jessica Pratt or Ana Tijoux. But I also – and this is what I really want to highlight – listen to NPR’s Alt. Latino.

I’ve said it in this space before and I’ll say it again, I love salsa. The upstairs neighbors probably wonder why a white girl blasts so much Latin music in the dead of winter but unfortunately that's because I don’t think salsa is on many peoples radars, which is why I beg my friends to listen to just one episode of Alt. Latino in between their This American Life rotation. John Leguizamo’s guest DJ spot is a phenomenal place to start and confirms that the best way to explore current events, at times inadvertently, is through music. Ernesto Lechner’s episode features the classic - and my favorite - Latin genres: salsa, cumbia, samba and a little reggaeton. Of course, Junot Diaz’s picks for his playlist are spot on; so is his comment that it’s good to listen to music in a language you don’t understand. A lot of people do it. (Although, Americans, sadly not so much.)

That being said, I realize the randomness of my internet wanderings whenever I see the videos that Youtube suggests for me. Next to videos of street salsa and Daddy Yankee, I have recommendations for interviews with Zadie Smith and David Foster Wallace. I admit, I did recently binge watch various conversations with the Nigerean author Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Her Beyonce-sampled “We Should All Be Feminists” is superb but I was doubly struck by the “Danger of a Single Story”. I might be late to the party, but it sums up everything that first hit me about life in Honduras. The news reports about the country are both true and yet leave out so much. The horror stories that solo habla de miedo, as a friend of mine said, are not the only stories that warrant being told, just like music in English is not the only music that deserves a listen.

There are so many voices out there, and I find that the most important stories I hear are from people I meet on dance floors, on buses, at dinner tables, anywhere away from the internet. But then again, the internet leads me to some gems. And every so often, when I find them, I'll be sure to let you know.

Pictured above: my old home back when I lived without internet access

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