Just like that, we’ve reached the 250th issue of The Highlighter. Loyal readers, thank you for your support and your thoughtful contributions to our reading community. Together we’ve built something meaningful, don’t you think? Last week’s issue broke another reading record. The lead article, “ What
Just like that, we’ve reached the 250th issue of The Highlighter. Loyal readers, thank you for your support and your thoughtful contributions to our reading community. Together we’ve built something meaningful, don’t you think?
This week’s issue is another strong one. All four articles are worthy of your attention and reflection, but the first two are phenomenal. Today’s lead essay, “My Body Is A Confederate Monument,” by Caroline Randall Williams, is a masterpiece. The second, “America’s Enduring Caste System,” by Isabel Wilkerson, is also beautifully written, offering a powerful and possibly different way for people to understand anti-Blackness and systemic racism.
Please get into these and the other two articles and let me know what you think. Onward to another 250 issues!
Caroline Randall Williams: “I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South. If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. My skin is a monument.” (5 min)
Isabel Wilkerson: “Caste is the granting or withholding of respect, status, honor, attention, privileges, resources, benefit of the doubt and human kindness to someone on the basis of their perceived rank or standing in the hierarchy. Caste is insidious and therefore powerful because it is not hatred; it is not necessarily personal. It is the worn grooves of comforting routines and unthinking expectations, patterns of a social order that have been in place for so long that it looks like the natural order of things. Caste, along with its faithful servant race, is an X-factor in most any American equation, and any answer one might ever come up with to address our current challenges is flawed without it.” (52 min)
+ Ms. Wilkerson is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and author of one of my favorite books, The Warmth of Other Suns.
When the Hillsboro City School District in Ohio refused to integrate after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Gertrude Clemons, Imogene Curtis, and other Black mothers walked their children every morning to the city’s better-resourced elementary schools. Day after day, school officials turned them away. But eighteen months and several court cases later, the group of mothers triumphed, when the district relented to the pressure. “They taught their children to keep going,” Sarah Stankorb writes. “They taught them to know when the walk is not yet done.” (51 min)
Tre Johnson: “When things get real — really murderous, really tragic, really violent or aggressive — my white, liberal, educated friends already know what to do. What they do is read. And talk about their reading. What they do is listen. And talk about how they listened. What they do is never enough. This isn’t the time to circle up with other white people and discuss black pain in the abstract; it’s the time to acknowledge and examine the pain they’ve personally caused.” (7 min)
+ Reader Annotations: I’m really grateful for our strong and thoughtful reading community. I hope you are, too. But what’s the point of all this reading in the first place? Several of you have reached out the past two weeks and shared your thoughts. Here is loyal reader Lynn and her contribution:
We read so we can act in an effective way. Reading gets a bad rap because people end there, if they even got there in the first place. But it doesn’t end there. Reading is not just an exercise for the brain. It should hit our hearts and bodies, if we let reading do so.
Thank you, Lynn, and may the reading we choose to do this week “hit our hearts and bodies” so that we may act and be better.
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Also, let’s welcome our community’s 15 new members: Anastasia, Morgan, Crystal, Veronica, Joyce, Blake, Molly, Alicia, Jessica, Carolyn, Terri, Carrie, Gary, Emily, and one other person. I hope that you find this newsletter a solid addition to your Thursday email inbox. (Also, thank you, loyal readers Maker and Caitlin, for starting off a chain reaction of subscribing and referring!)
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