Ever since The Highlighter’s humble beginnings , when I could count the number of subscribers on two hands (hi Clare! hi Ben! hi Tess!), I’ve dedicated myself to scouring a wide range of publications to share with you great articles on race, education, and culture. Sometimes, this process produces a
Ever since The Highlighter’s humble beginnings, when I could count the number of subscribers on two hands (hi Clare! hi Ben! hi Tess!), I’ve dedicated myself to scouring a wide range of publications to share with you great articles on race, education, and culture. Sometimes, this process produces a gem: an article I wouldn’t have otherwise read, from a publication I don’t usually frequent, that gets me to think differently about my world. This week’s lead article — about a debutante ball in Laredo, Texas, that honors first lady Martha Washington — meets those criteria, and as a result, I hope you read it and let me know what you think.
+ Help me improve The Highlighter! Please fill out the Annual Loyal Reader Survey. It’s short and your input will determine the newsletter’s next steps. If 50 people complete the survey this week, I’ll donate $50 to the Kindle Classroom Project, which I’ve heard is a pretty rad reading program. Plus one of you will win the esteemed Highlighter mug. It’s a win-win, right?
At first glance, this outstanding article is about a fancy high-society debutante ball and pageant, in which young women dress up in expensive 100-pound dresses and announce their presence to the world via curtsy, while celebrating colonial times and the life of first lady Martha Washington.
But peel back the onion and you’ll discover complex twists and turns that are quintessentially American. Like how the pageant got started by upper-class white families but most of the girls now are Mexican American. Like how the dresses sometimes cost more than the per-capita income of Laredo. Like how the festival values unity and friendship in a town where ICE agents detain migrants and separate families.
You’ll also appreciate how author Jordan Kisner explores nepantla, a Nahuatl word that means “in-betweenness.” Ms. Kisner discusses the transition to womanhood, the commodification of beauty, the expectation of assimilation, the loss of heritage, the passing as white, and the assumption of straightness. (47 min)
You Can’t Be Neutral: The Antiracist Revelations of Historian Ibram X. Kendi
In his new book, How to Be An Antiracist, professor Ibram X. Kendi makes things plain. Let’s take the personal out of racism. Being a racist isn’t about doing bad things or saying mean things. Rather, you’re a racist if you’re promoting inequitable policies, or doing nothing to eradicate them. This profile gets especially good when Prof. Kendi starts talking about white liberals. (26 min)
Biological Weathering And Its Deadly Effect On Black Mothers
Resisting racism takes a heavy toll on the body. In particular, among Black women, chronic stress due to racism leads to an increase in health problems, premature aging, and infant mortality. This “weathering” process, according to professor Arline Geronimus, results from years of practicing vigilance in the face of systemic racism. (15 min)
+ To read more on this topic, please check out Issues #108, #139, #150, and #177.
In Case You Missed Them: The 10 Most Popular Articles (So Far) Of The Year
Are you a new subscriber? Or maybe you haven’t had too much time to read lately? Don’t fret. Get caught up by binge reading the 10 articles that loyal readers have liked the most this year. Everything’s here: white fragility, microaggressions, growth mindset, school segregation, education reform, millennials, white nationalism, and more. If you read them all, you get a button! (195 min)
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