For the third week in a row, last week’s issue was the most popular in The Highlighter’s history, thanks to your strong readership. Thank you for opening the newsletter every week and trusting me to suggest thought-provoking articles to read. Today’s selections are definitely worth your time and att
For the third week in a row, last week’s issue was the most popular in The Highlighter’s history, thanks to your strong readership. Thank you for opening the newsletter every week and trusting me to suggest thought-provoking articles to read.
Today’s selections are definitely worth your time and attention. In this week’s lead article, author Viet Thanh Nguyen argues that the model minority myth hurts not only Asian Americans but everyone. The next two pieces — about the killing of Ahmaud Arbery and a protest in Bethel, Ohio — offer opposing perspectives of the Black Lives Matter movement. Finally, a feature on dollar stores reminds us what happens when capitalism intersects with race and poverty. My hope is that you’ll read at least one article this week and then share with me your thoughts.
+ This month’s Article Club selection is “Jerry and Marge Go Large,” one of the best articles of 2018. Writer Jason Fagone captures the joy and spirit of two savvy retirees as they game the lottery to win millions. You can find out more info and sign up here.
In this nuanced, thought-provoking essay, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen reflects on being Asian American in the time of coronavirus and nationwide protests against police brutality. The model minority myth traps Asian Americans into pursuing the American Dream, and thereby aligning with white supremacy culture, while remaining inextricably foreign and vulnerable to xenophobia. “Throughout Asian-American history,” Mr. Nguyen writes, Asian immigrants and their descendants have been offered the opportunity by both Black people and white people to choose sides in the Black-white racial divide, and we have far too often chosen the white side.”
Still, Mr. Nguyen acknowledges the racism and violence against Asian Americans, how capitalism pits Asian Americans of different ethnicities against each other, how immigration policies targeted and discriminated against Asians, and how the wars of American imperialism resulted in devastation. If seeking the American Dream means being seen as the other, and reaching it means seeing fellow Americans as the other, then maybe it’s not a dream worth chasing in the first place. (25 min)
+ Thank you to VIP member Phoebe for suggesting this article. Do you have a great article for our reading community? Send it my way!
David Dennis Jr.: “Black people disappear in America. This fact is woven into the fabric of our country. Parents are separated from their children at slave auctions, never to be seen by them again. A loved one is here one day and turns up in the Jim Crow woods the next, dangling from trees under the cover of nightfall and inhumanity. Ahmaud Arbery left his house on February 23 to go for a run, as the 25-year-old former high school football star was known to do. In the middle of that run, he became one of those bodies. Ahmaud was in the middle-class Satilla Shores neighborhood, on a winding road under the cover of Spanish moss that hung from trees like history. It’s the type of road Black bodies disappear into.” (19 min)
Everyone in the village of Bethel, Ohio, loves second grade teacher Lois Dennis. That is, they loved her — until she participated in a Black Lives Matter demonstration with her daughter last month. The town of 2,800 mostly white residents turned on her, claiming that Bethel isn’t racist and doesn’t need to examine its values. For this working-class, Trump-voting community, white privilege doesn’t exist and BLM amounts to reverse racism. (26 min)
Discount stores are thriving, particularly in poor areas, which Walmart and Target won’t serve. But this outstanding piece by Alec MacGillis explains how dollar stores contribute to economic distress rather than mitigating it, especially in working-class Black communities. Keeping prices down means poor working conditions, low wages, and worst of all, high rates of robbery and murder. When you go to work, Jolanda Woods says, you shouldn’t have to risk your life. (28 min)
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