The weather has turned warm in the Bay Area, loyal readers, which brings me great joy and most people great pain. I’m noticing that even my climate change activist friends are secretly wishing for central air conditioning. Look on the bright side: Summer is near! (Too bad shelter in place seems to h
The weather has turned warm in the Bay Area, loyal readers, which brings me great joy and most people great pain. I’m noticing that even my climate change activist friends are secretly wishing for central air conditioning. Look on the bright side: Summer is near! (Too bad shelter in place seems to have no definite end.)
Even if the air is stifling you, at least you can grab a tall glass of lemonade and enjoy a few outstanding articles, thanks to The Highlighter. If you want to read an uplifting story about young people and their principal, this week’s lead article is for you. If you’re a white person, I encourage the second piece, which offers context to the racist tragedies occurring over the past month. The last two articles — a reflection on cocoons and a biography of James Hemings — are worth your time, too. Please enjoy!
+ Join us at HHH #14 next Thursday, June 4! We’ll meet on Zoom, 5:30 - 6:30 pm PT. Bring a beverage of your choice and meet great people, win significant prizes, and participate in general merriment. All you need to do is hit reply and say, “I’m in!”
Towana Pierre-Floyd grew up in New Orleans and now serves as principal of Frederick A. Douglass High School. She believes that the best way to prepare Black students to succeed in college is to remind them that they come from a long line of brilliant people, and because they’re standing on the shoulders of giants, they have to do great things in return.
To that end, Ms. Pierre-Floyd takes groups of students overseas every year to expand their perspectives and to engage in a “global legacy of excellence.” This article chronicles a trip she took to Belize with 25 students. Along the way, you meet 15-year-old Endiah Guyton, learn more about the challenges of New Orleans schools post-Katrina, and discover that the best way to fry fresh barracuda is with no cornmeal at all. (34 min)
“Black people are required to navigate the white space as a condition of their existence,” professor Elijah Anderson writes in this academic article that explores how racism requires that Black people perform for white people’s provisional acceptance, a sort of “dance” in order to ”pass inspection,” a conditional allowance that can be rescinded at any time. Written in 2015, Prof. Anderson includes two anecdotes that mirror the events involving Ahmaud Arbery and Christian Cooper. (20 min)
As a kid, I loved dinosaurs, but honestly, the whole caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis thing never grabbed my interest. Good thing Sam Anderson gave me another chance many, many years later. This essay on cocoons (or chrysalises) accurately captures our current state living in this global pandemic. Maybe our lives are “cramped and dim” and “unpleasant and grim” right now, but Mr. Anderson assures us, “We are in the middle of creating whatever the new world will be. We did it, and we are doing it, every day.” (10 min)
The musical Hamilton taught us that Thomas Jefferson liked being fancy. But it didn’t say anything about James Hemings, the most accomplished American chef of the 1700s, who prepared the menu for “the room where it happened,” and who spent most of his life as Mr. Jefferson’s property, alongside his more-famous sister Sally. This is by no means an uplifting story, but particularly if you’re a foodie, you’ll appreciate references to Chef Hemings’s signature dishes (including capon stuffed with Virginia ham). (13 min)
+ Reader Annotations: Last week’s article, “We Cannot Return To Campus This Fall,” caused a stir. Here’s what loyal reader Hannah thought:
I agree with your thoughts on Harley Litzelman’s article. My main problem with it is that it assumes that Distance Learning is better than the reality that he is describing. While I agree with him, that his reality isn’t great, I’m not convinced that the alternatives are better. Having watched my students struggle through the last two months, I worry deeply about what will happen to them in the fall. I do appreciate his analysis of some of the problems with trying to social distance at schools, but I wish he acknowledged the strengths that the schools have with in-person learning, rather than only their deficits.
Thank you for sharing your perspective, Hannah. Loyal readers, I value your perspective. Please reach out and share your thoughts!
Did you find at least one good article? Hope so. Thank you for reading this week’s newsletter. Let me know what you thought by hitting reply or by clicking on the thumbs below. Also, let’s welcome our reading community’s two new subscribers JoDee and Rae. I hope that you find this newsletter a solid addition to your Thursday email inbox.
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