We’ve reached the middle of May, loyal readers! I’m happy to announce that I’m noticing more high-quality, non-pandemic articles lately, and today’s issue of The Highlighter includes four selections worthy of your time and attention. Leading this week’s issue is “ Only A Mile And A Big World Separat
We’ve reached the middle of May, loyal readers! I’m happy to announce that I’m noticing more high-quality, non-pandemic articles lately, and today’s issue of The Highlighter includes four selections worthy of your time and attention.
Leading this week’s issue is “Only A Mile And A Big World Separated Us,” a big, well-written piece that I recommend highly. The second article, about an anti-gay woman and her gay son, is also excellent. Then take time for Tuba, in his first appearance since Issue #198, before diving into a pair of articles about Ahmaud Arbery and the differences in running when you’re Black vs. when you’re white. I hope you find the articles valuable and illuminating.
+ The Highlighter Hoodie is coming, at long last! What color should it be? Hit reply and vote your conscience.
“This is an All-American story about two kids from the east side of Baltimore.” So begins this riveting, profound essay by D. Watkins, who came of age as a Black man in the same working-class neighborhood as Daniel Hersl, a white man. Even though they grew up just one mile apart, their lives diverged in disturbingly predictable ways according to the racist inequities of our society. Mr. Watkins sold crack before he got out of the game and got into college; Mr. Hersl became a police officer and terrorized Black men before he got convicted of stealing from drug dealers.
In clear and convincing prose, Mr. Watkins argues that law enforcement policies like broken windows, zero tolerance, and stop-and-frisk, which led inexorably to mass incarceration, also vilified Black men as superpredators while their white counterparts were honored as superheroes.
Mr. Watkins writes, “America didn’t give me any tools to change, and it didn’t give Daniel Hersl any reason to change. But instead of addressing these problems, it treats us both as exceptions, rewarding me and locking him away, so that it can forget about these particular East Baltimore boys and let the game go on.” (41 min)
When Matthew Mason came out to his family, his pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay mother Mylinda kicked him out of the “Patriotic Cottage,” also known as the house. But like many conservative families, which separate their public hate from their private love, Matthew and Mylinda did not let the separation detract from their connection. But then, President Trump got elected, and Mylinda organized a straight rights rally in Modesto, California, which changed everything. (27 min)
Of all the articles I’ve read on the horrific killing of Ahmaud Arbery, this one by Charles Blow stands out for its direct language and simple truth. He writes, “Slavery was legal. The Black Codes were legal. Sundown towns were legal. Sharecropping was legal. Jim Crow was legal. Racial covenants were legal. Mass incarceration is legal. Chasing a black man or boy with your gun because you suspect him a criminal is legal. Using lethal force as an act of self-defense in a physical dispute that you provoke and could easily have avoided is, often, legal.” (5 min)
Jonathan Severy is a white man who likes to run on trails in the Rocky Mountains that don’t belong to him. When his neighbors remind him that he’s trespassing on private property, Dr. Severy appeals to their humanity, which results in mild skirmishes, threats of lawsuits, and the brandishing of iPads (for photographic evidence). He’s indignant. “Americans’ idea of community is becoming less cohesive, while our focus contracts inward. We become more suspicious of others, more concerned with ourselves. We feel victimized.” (11 min)
+ Reader Annotations: Loyal reader Daniel liked last week’s lead article, “Full-Timing Families” and shared these thoughts:
I was particularly taken with the idea of “roadschooling.” But even so, I feel like the article presents a false binary: Either you are full-time on the road, or you are living in our usual “rat race.” I grew up in a family that valued home and time together more than those things were valued by most other families I know. And because my father was a teacher and had summers away from work, we took several multi-month cross-country road trips — all without leaving the permanence of home, school, and job. Being on the road for two months is much more than most people ever get. So I think that, rather than “either-or,” it may be possible to have “both-and.”
Thank you, Daniel, for reading the piece and reaching out with your connections. Loyal readers, if an article this week resonated with you, please hit reply and start a dialogue.
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