The Rag | Pop Culture

And a couple of things I liked

Photograph by Natalie Seery/HBO

Content warning: This article discusses “I May Destroy You,” a BBC x HBO series that explicitly deals with rape, sexual assault, drug use, and trauma. There are also spoilers!

This week I watched “I May Destroy You,” the critically acclaimed tour de force by Black British auteur, Michaela Coel. The 12-part series, which is billed (mistakenly, IMHO) as a “consent drama,” was this month’s selection for my intersectional women’s group film discussion. I foolishly waited until mere days before the event to watch the series in its entirety. …


Pile of folded fabric remnants.
Pile of folded fabric remnants.
Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

The thinking person’s lifestyle column.


The Rag | Living

Lenten tacos, Black TikTok, and a side of conspiracy

Close up of fishing nets
Close up of fishing nets
Fishing gear accounts for almost half of the plastic in the ocean, according to the Netflix documentary ‘Seaspiracy.’ Photo by Kristin Snippe on Unsplash

When I was planning The Rag, I decided I wanted to have a weekly roundup of interesting recommendations, sort of à la “At Home” by The New York Times. Ideally, this would happen on a weekend but, well, it’s Wednesday and I’m doin’ it, soooo… I’ve been reading the The Gilded Ones, a West African-inspired YA fantasy by Namina Forna. (I hope the pace picks up.) I’ve been knitting up gauge swatches and scrolling through Ravelry in search of sweater patterns that will work with this local yarn. I watched all 12 episodes of “I May Destroy You” and wished…


The Rag | Personal essay

As a Black woman with mental illness, I dealt with *everything that’s been going on* by painting everything white

White wall with white shelves, mirror, radiator, and a cat.
White wall with white shelves, mirror, radiator, and a cat.
That’s my cat, Lily.

Here in Istanbul, the first coronavirus case was announced just over one year ago. It feels like it happened yesterday in another lifetime, like some sort of spacetime dolly zoom.

The dolly zoom effect is creating my zooming the camera in while physically moving it backwards. Now you know. Gif by LetsGlitchIt via Giphy.

In those early pandemic days, the “coronabrain” I basically already live with thanks to ADHD kicked into overdrive. My cluttered mental landscape mirrored the seemingly rhizomatic expansion of crap littering our shoebox apartment. During lockdown, which included a 14-day quarantine due to possible exposure to virus…


It’s cotillion season

An archival photo of young African American women waiting to go downstairs for their debutante cotillion.
An archival photo of young African American women waiting to go downstairs for their debutante cotillion.
Photo: Cornelle Capa/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Poised and graceful, the young woman glides toward the gathered crowd, a who’s who of her community’s most influential personages. Her purposeful strides belie the butterflies in her stomach. She pauses intermittently to curtsy. With each demure bend, her diaphanous gown settles around her like a cloud, its pristine whiteness setting off her deep chestnut complexion. Finally, she arrives at the waiting arms of her escort and begins to waltz.

Long before Netflix’s Bridgerton series captured our collective imagination, Black Americans were engaged in their own displays of privilege and pageantry. …


I enjoy it but have mixed feelings about the hit Netflix show

Photos courtesy of Netflix.

Spoiler alert: This essay contains spoilers.

I’ve been into period drama films since I was a kid. Classics like Amadeus and Pride and Prejudice were in hot rotation in my house because they were something we could all enjoy. The sweeping cinematography in European locales fed my creativity and wanderlust. My mom, a sewist, loved the exquisite costumes while my screenwriter dad enjoyed the rich dialogue. They both also liked the way most period dramas affirmed “Christian” virtues like chastity and traditional gender roles. Eventually, I came to realize how much they also virtuized Whiteness.

With its racy sex scenes…


Anti-Blackness is global

Photo: Lorenzo Antonucci/Getty Images

As I read a Washington Post article by a Black American woman who traded New York for Paris, a single line triggered my wanderlust: “Paris, a city that has historically revered Black arts and culture and respected Black humanity.” Ever since Trump’s election in 2016, publications have been running stories like this about “Blaxit,” the exodus of Black Americans in search of a better, less racist life overseas. Many include inspiring pictures of Black women living their best life — and apparently best hair — their melanin poppin against lush vistas or architectural wonders in the background.

I began to…


Its popularity during the pandemic reminds of how much it’s been safety and self-care for me and my people for decades

Photo: Tasneem Howa/Getty Images

Thanks to the pandemic, roller skating is trending so hard that stores are running out of skates. #Rollerskating has over two billion views on Tik Tok, the social platform that kicked off the nostalgic trend. It’s the perfect pandemic pastime, requiring only minimal gear and a smooth expanse of pavement. It is inherently joyful, and you can do it while socially distancing. Seeing women who look like me on Insta and Tik Tok dancing down their respective streets in retro-styled outfits on candy-colored Moxis just makes my heart happy because I’ve been skating my whole life.

When I was a…


Make your social media feed more inclusive. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo: KARRASTOCK/Getty Images

Take a look at your online media consumption — do you only follow white, cisgender Americans? If so, you’re not hearing a lot of perspectives that you might really want.

As a WOC writer, I often find myself searching for structural reasons that explain why certain communities are so homogenous. Why aren’t there more people of color involved in crafting communities, or goth culture, for example? Usually the answer is some combination of erasure and exclusion.

These same forces shape the communities we form on social media. Whether your goal is to help counteract structural inequality by connecting with people…


Younger adults have this whole ‘talking about feelings thing’ down

Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

It’s been a rough few weeks for mental health. As if the constant threat of disease wasn’t enough of a mindfuck, our new social-distancing lifestyle is causing what TIME magazine recently called “an emotional pandemic” of anxiety and fear.

But just as younger adults seem to sometimes fare better against Covid-19, they may also be better equipped, mentally and emotionally, to weather this pandemic. From the Great Recession to our toxic political landscape, people who came of age during our most recent national crises have developed our own way of thinking about mental health — one that people of any…

Ruth Terry

American freelancer in Istanbul writing about culture, mental health, race & travel. Bylines everywhere from Al Jazeera to Zora. Tw: @Ruth_Terry | IG: @ruth.ist

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