Last week’s issue was The Highlighter’s most-read-yet. I appreciate your interest in reading well-written articles on important topics, and I am grateful that you make the time and space, week after week, to read, reflect, and have conversations with others. I am hopeful that today’s issue will cont
Last week’s issue was The Highlighter’s most-read-yet. I appreciate your interest in reading well-written articles on important topics, and I am grateful that you make the time and space, week after week, to read, reflect, and have conversations with others. I am hopeful that today’s issue will continue to build the momentum of this thoughtful reading community.
This week’s pieces center the ideas and lived experiences of Carvell Wallace, Sarah Bellamy, Pirette McKamey, Bryan Stevenson, Saeed Jones, and Kadir Nelson. All of them are great, but my personal favorite is the lead article, “Trying To Parent My Black Teenagers Through Protest and Pandemic,” which might bring you to tears (of anger, of sadness, of other emotions), even if you’re not a parent. If you’re an educator (in particular, a U.S. History teacher), I also highly recommend “Reconstruction In America.”
+ If you’re a relatively new member of our reading community, or you’ve missed an issue here and there, you might want to check out The Most Popular Articles Of 2020 So Far. The list includes a wide range of outstanding pieces on a variety of topics. Enjoy!
Carvell Wallace: “It is terribly painful that my son thinks I have ruined his life. He’s not entirely wrong. I am a wildly imperfect parent. I have made tremendous mistakes. Perhaps the biggest mistake was bringing him into a world where we all have to wear masks, where riot squads assemble in front of our minivan, where the climate is on a collision course with the destruction of the human race, where the encampments of houseless people grow larger and wilder every day, where he can watch himself be murdered over and over again just by clicking a link.
This is the world I let be created. Under my watch. They know this. They blame me for it. They are right. It hurts my heart. Also, would you like dinner? What movie should we watch? Tell me about your day. Parenting, like life, is heartbreak followed by reality, followed by love, followed by loneliness, followed by despair, followed by jokes, followed by exhaustion. If this is what you are experiencing, you are doing it right. If you are returning over and over again to watch the simple miracle of growth, you are doing it right.” (30 min)
Sarah Bellamy: “White folks, you must dig into your embodied racism, even — especially — if you think it’s not there. And this is not just to shift what you say and how you shape your arguments, questions, Facebook posts, tweets. It’s not about performing your wokeness. This isn’t about what you say — it’s about how you act; how your body might be predisposed to rely on a racial inheritance that endangers the lives of others. What’s in your guts, in your muscles, in your blood? What are you carrying dormant in your body that springs up when confronted with Black joy, Black power, Black brilliance, Black Blackness in the world? How can you train your bodies to respond differently when you are triggered, when you’re in fight-or-flight mode?” (11 min)
Pirette McKamey: “Ask Black students who their favorite teacher is, and they will joyfully tell you. Ask them what it is about their favorite teacher, and most will say some version of this: They know how to work with me. So much is in that statement. It means that these students want to work, that they see their teachers as partners in the learning process, and that they know the teacher-student relationship is one in which they both have power. In other words, Black students know that they bring intellect to the classroom, and they know when they are seen — and not seen.” (5 min)
Bryan Stevenson: “Reconstruction offered great promise and could have radically changed the history of this country. However, it quickly became clear that emancipation in the United States did not mean equality for Black people. The commitment to abolish chattel slavery was not accompanied by a commitment to equal rights or equal protection for African Americans and the hope of Reconstruction quickly became a nightmare of unparalleled violence and oppression. We believe our nation has failed to adequately address or acknowledge our history of racial injustice and that we must commit to a new era of truth-telling followed by meaningful efforts to repair and remedy the continuing legacy of racial oppression.” (75 min)
+ If the link doesn’t load, copy and paste this URL into your browser: eji.org/report/reconstruction-in-america
Saeed Jones: “Before coroners learned George Floyd’s body tested positive for the coronavirus, before every building in my neighborhood boarded up its windows, before the curfews, before some white men who live in my building opened their windows and spat on the protesters marching on the street under them and yelled ‘Fuck George Floyd,’ George Floyd called out for his dead mother just as desperately as he was calling out for air. My own mother, the woman who used to end the notes she sent to me with ‘I love you more than the air I breathe,’ died almost a decade ago and I can promise you that when this country finally gets its hands on me, I will be calling out for her too. Sometimes, I can’t help but feel that our grief is all this country will let us own. And though I’d very much like to pass onto you something other than this ghostly pain, America, it’s all you deserve.” (5 min)
Kadir Nelson: A closeup examination of the artist’s latest cover in The New Yorker, in which the murder of George Floyd embodies the history of violence inflicted upon Black people in America. (10 min)
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