Let’s begin this edition with some gratitude. This week, I received several kind notes from you, thanking me for continuing to publish this newsletter every Thursday despite our wild times and orange skies. I won’t lie: I’ve thought once or twice about taking a week off. But it’s clear that reading
Let’s begin this edition with some gratitude. This week, I received several kind notes from you, thanking me for continuing to publish this newsletter every Thursday despite our wild times and orange skies. I won’t lie: I’ve thought once or twice about taking a week off. But it’s clear that reading helps me process what’s happening out there, plus it’s an honor to share my favorite articles with you. I’m extremely appreciative that you show up week after week, trusting me with your reading time. Thank you!
Now comes the part where I tell you that every single piece this week is outstanding (true), that I highly recommend the lead article by Ijeoma Oluo (especially if you’re a parent), that even if you’re not a science person, you’ll enjoy “State Of The Species” (so much new knowledge!), that Florida should concern you (obviously), and that, as Ta-Nehisi Coates emphasizes, high-quality writing is a rare gift. Thank you again for being a loyal reader, and please enjoy.
Ijeoma Oluo: “Inspired by my conversation with my 12-year-old son Marcus, I've spent more time lately listening to young activists. They have every reason to be far angrier than I am. And they are angry. But they are so much more than that. They have seen us struggle, and the price we’ve paid for that struggle; they have seen the fire go out in our eyes, and they still decide that they, too, will try to change the world. After more than four centuries of brutality and oppression, how amazing is yet another generation that demands revolution?
“What an unfathomable tragedy to meet this wonderful gift with apathy and resignation. We have the chance to help our children in ways broader society didn’t help us or those who came before us. To receive their fierce love with equally fierce respect. To use our dollars, our votes, and our voices to dismantle policies that seek to harm them. To honor their commitment to fighting for justice. To teach them the heritage of Black resistance. To ensure that they feel they are part of something so much larger than themselves. To make clear that their lives matter.” (13 min)
Don’t worry, loyal readers: This isn’t an apocalyptic look at climate change and how we’re all doomed. Rather, it’s one of the best articles that I’ve read on the history of humans and our remarkable success as a species. If you’re a novice scientist, like I am, you’ll love Charles Mann’s clear explanation of how Homo sapiens prospered, despite many challenges (e.g., body lice, supervolcanic eruptions), because of its unparalleled ability to adapt. We’re very good at keeping on going. The only problem? Most successful species kill themselves off. Will we be next? (37 min)
Two years ago, Florida passed Amendment 4, which reinstated voting rights for ex-felons, who the state had previously disenfranchised for life. Soon after, however, the state legislature passed a law requiring ex-felons to pay outstanding fees and fines, thereby suppressing 750,000 potential voters, about half of whom are Black. “I want them to fight for it,” state senator Mike Bennett said. “Do you ever read the stories about the people in Africa — the people in the desert, who literally walk two and three hundred miles so they can have an opportunity to do what we do?” Potential voter Betty Riddle said, “Not all the Republicans are bad. But they don’t want us to vote. Because they think they’re going to lose.” (41 min)
Always thoughtful, Ta-Nehisi Coates is outstanding in this conversation with Evan Ratliff, in which he discusses guest editing the September edition of Vanity Fair and centering the words of Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, in the cover story, “A Beautiful Life.” “Good things take time,” Mr. Coates said, explaining his contribution to protest the killing of George Floyd. “You gotta let things cook. You can’t insta-bake something like this.” (49 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. I’m grateful for your feedback.
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