Happy Thursday, loyal readers! Especially when work is busy (definitely true this week), I look forward to carving out time to read, reflect, and share thought-provoking articles with you. I’m appreciative of this reading community — whether you joined this month, or five years ago, or anywhere in b
Happy Thursday, loyal readers! Especially when work is busy (definitely true this week), I look forward to carving out time to read, reflect, and share thought-provoking articles with you. I’m appreciative of this reading community — whether you joined this month, or five years ago, or anywhere in between.
I couldn’t decide which article should lead this week’s issue, so if you have time, I recommend that you read both. “The Power of American Denial” and “America’s Untouchables” talk to each other, exploring our country’s choice not to reckon with the systemic white supremacy and anti-Blackness right in front of our faces.
Also, don’t forget about the two articles (focusing on TikTok and policing) after the adorable puppy photo (thanks, Erin). They’re worth your time, too. As always, I hope at least one article resonates with you, and if it does, please hit reply and tell me what you think. Have a great week!
Ibram X. Kendi: “On racial matters, the United States could just as accurately be described as a land in denial. It has been a massacring nation that said it cherished life, a slaveholding nation that claimed it valued liberty, a hierarchal nation that declared it valued equality, a disenfranchising nation that branded itself a democracy, a segregated nation that styled itself separate but equal, an excluding nation that boasted of opportunity for all. A nation is what it does, not what it originally claimed it would be. Often, a nation is precisely what it denies itself to be. Donald Trump has revealed the depths of the country’s prejudice—and has inadvertently forced a reckoning.
The abolition of slavery seemed as impossible in the 1850s as equality seems today. But just as the abolitionists of the 1850s demanded the immediate eradication of slavery, immediate equality must be the demand today. Abolish police violence. Abolish mass incarceration. Abolish the racial wealth gap and the gap in school funding. Abolish barriers to citizenship. Abolish voter suppression. Abolish health disparities. Not in 20 years. Not in 10 years. Now.” (20 min)
Isabel Wilkerson: “As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theatre, the flashlight cast down the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power: which groups have it and which do not. It is about resources: which caste is seen as worthy of them, and which are not; who gets to acquire and control them, and who does not. It is about respect, authority and assumptions of competence: who is accorded these, and who is not. In the American caste system, the signal of rank is what we call race, the division of humans on the basis of their appearance. In the United States, race is the primary tool and the visible decoy for caste.” (16 min)
Jason Parham: “As a Black man, my relationship to images is fraught. Fraught in the sense that, if images speak our humanness into being, if they tell us how we are made visible to ourselves and to others, it is also a language that is often used against us: as surveillance, as documentation, through grainy smartphone cameras as figures of unwant. This is America, after all, where Black humanity has barely been recognized.” (27 min)
As appeals to defund the police have grown stronger, a question remains about how best to support people experiencing mental illness. In this nuanced article by Hannah Dreier, certainly the answer is not more police de-escalation training. But what should happen in the time before social workers replace police officers? In other words, what should happen now, when Thomas Parker, an officer in Huntsville, Alabama, receives his next call? (20 min)
Thank you very much for reading yet another issue of The Highlighter. Let me know what you thought by hitting reply or by clicking on the thumbs below.
Also, let’s welcome our community’s 3 new members: Evan, Robert, and Kelly. I hope that you find this newsletter a solid addition to your Thursday email inbox.
If you really like The Highlighter, please help it grow and get better. I appreciate your support. Here are a few ways you can help:
- Forward today’s issue to a friend and urge them to subscribe
- Keep my reading energy high by buying me a cookie
- Support the newsletter’s growth by becoming a VIP member
On the other hand, if you’ve given this newsletter a chance, but it’s just not a part of your weekly reading routine, please unsubscribe. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am PT!