Practical analysis for investment professionals
18 August 2017

Weekend Reads: Charlottesville, Smartphones, and the Solar Eclipse

Like so many others in my adopted hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, I have been struggling to make sense of the events of this past weekend.

While I lack the context of US history and the deep divide of the Civil War, I grew up in Apartheid South Africa and witnessed the violent confrontations of the late 1980s. I was midway through my first year of university when the government declared a national state of emergency, giving the police sweeping powers to detain protesters. (According to estimates, about 26,000 people were reportedly detained between June 1986 and June 1987.) My alma mater, the University of Cape Town, was dubbed “Little Moscow on the Hill,” and during marches, riot police used tear gas and whips, known as sjamboks, to disperse protesters. Violent clashes were commonplace on campuses and in townships across the country.

Still, I wasn’t prepared for some of the images and stories that flooded my social media feed over the last week.

There were many horrifying accounts of the events, but there were also glimpses of hope and resilience, like the tweet below, which soon became the most-liked tweet ever.

It is fitting that President Barack Obama chose to quote Nelson Mandela. The tweet prompted me to re-familiarize myself with the plot of Cry, the Beloved Country by South African author Alan Paton.

Published in 1948, at the outset of the Apartheid era in South Africa, the novel tells the story of a black South African minister, Reverend Stephen Kumalo, who goes to search for his missing son, Absalom. It is set in a land riven by racial injustice.

“It’s a beautiful book — lyrical without being maudlin, lofty but unpretentious,” writes Kevin Roose. “And Paton captures perfectly the difficulty of non-violent resistance. In one scene, Kumalo, speaking to a farmer who he fears has become too radicalized, says, ‘I cannot stop you from thinking your thoughts. It is good that a young man has such deep thoughts. But hate no man, and desire power over no man.'”

I am suffering from information overload and find myself torn between being informed and feeling overwhelmed. But what I do know is that I want to participate in important conversations about where we go from here. So more information is better.

If you are interested in learning more about what happened in Charlottesville and reading some of the discussion that has ensued, below is a short list of the media I found most helpful (and if you’d rather not, skip to the section below for other weekend reads):

At a time when many CFA charterholders may be wondering, “What do I do that is relevant to such civil unrest?” Paul Smith, CFA, urges everyone to take a role in “eradicating violence and intolerance by promoting inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.”

Beyond Charlottesville, some other articles I found interesting, in case you missed them:

I have received messages of sympathy and concern from friends far and wide. Many wonder what it is like in Charlottesville right now, and what has changed since last week. The community is shocked, but perhaps more than that, the overriding feeling is one of resolve. Determination. Unity. Resurgence.

Yesterday, a friend shared on Twitter footage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “We Shall Overcome” speech. These words stuck with me: “We will be able to rise from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope.”

Indeed, that is my hope.

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Image credit: Courtesy of Greg Frank

About the Author(s)
Lauren Foster

Lauren Foster is managing editor of Enterprising Investor and co-lead of CFA Institute’s Women in Investment Management initiative. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for Barron’s and the Financial Times. Prior to her freelance work, Foster spent nearly a decade on staff at the FT as a reporter and editor based in the New York bureau. Foster holds a BA in political science from the University of Cape Town, and an MS in journalism from Columbia University.

2 thoughts on “Weekend Reads: Charlottesville, Smartphones, and the Solar Eclipse”

  1. Anne Reed says:

    Wonderful response! I too was at UCT during that raid – Fuller hall

  2. Rowan Williams-Short says:

    Thanks for a thoughtful article, Lauren. There is another incredible link between the 2016 protests at your alma mater, UCT, and the events in Charlottesville last weekend: both were seeded by highly charged disputes over contentious statues: Cecil John Rhodes and General Robert E Lee respectively. I believe that there is growing evidence that the pattern followed at UCT is being imitated in the USA. The Rhodes statue was removed.
    Feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss this. I will be in Charlottesville next Tuesday afternoon.

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