Mar 18, 2021 5 min read

#285: What Black Schools Mean To Black Kids

#285: What Black Schools Mean To Black Kids

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for being here. As schools begin to reopen, one full year after they closed, I’m finding more well-written pieces about education. This week’s lead article, “ What Black Schools Mean To Black Kids ,” questions the value of integrated schools and celebrates learning

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for being here. As schools begin to reopen, one full year after they closed, I’m finding more well-written pieces about education. This week’s lead article, “What Black Schools Mean To Black Kids,” questions the value of integrated schools and celebrates learning environments where Black children are put at the center. The second article eviscerates and excoriates private schools and suggests that maybe we should eliminate them altogether. Educators and parents, I’d love to hear your thoughts on both.

After the pet photo break, you’ll find an outstanding podcast episode featuring the transformation of a protester-turned-politician. Then to round off this issue, please enjoy something entirely different: the story of a woman who communicates with animals and heals them. Never a dull moment at The Highlighter!

+ What would make this newsletter even better? I’m all ears and ready to hear all your great ideas. Type or tell me your thoughts!

What Black Schools Mean To Black Kids

What Black Schools Mean To Black Kids

Jamilah Lemieux: “The events of last summer, much like the events of the past 400 summers, were among the many reasons that I gave up on integrated-ish schools. Now, more than ever, I am convinced that my child — my child — is safest in the hands of people who know that she is a human being, who did not have to learn later in life that she is a human being, who were raised by people who look like her to love and understand people who look like her.

“I firmly believe that this child is right where she needs to be. At no point has my little girl ever indicated that she thought white people to be more beautiful, more intelligent, more capable, or more moral than Black people. Naima is quite convinced that to be a Black girl is to be glorious. It is, and she is, and it is my duty to protect her and that feeling so long as I draw breath.” (10 min)

Private Schools Are Indefensible

Caitlin Flanagan taught at a fancy private school. She  even sent her kids to one. But enough is enough. In this tart, snarky takedown of elite private schools like Dalton and Sidwell Friends, Ms. Flanagan takes no prisoners and bars no holds. It’s one thing to hoard resources, breed entitlement, and exacerbate inequality. But to do all that and then to spout progressive values and pretend you’re engines of social change? No way, no how. Ms. Flanagan is having none of that. (30 min)

+ Loyal reader


gets credit for smartly pointing this piece in my direction.

Licki Minaj, who belongs to VIP Michele, seeks forgiveness after doing something very, very bad. Want your pet to appear in The Highlighter?


Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr: “When people all around the world first started going outside and protesting, I’m kind of ashamed to say that I was on my couch playing video games. I was tossing touchdowns in one game, then shooting people’s heads off in another, and the most I raised my voice for anything was to talk trash to my friends over a headset.

“A couple days later, though, as the protests got more intense, I kept thinking about this. And I convinced myself that the reason I wasn’t out there protesting was because I didn’t want to catch coronavirus, or maybe it was self-care, or some shit like that. And I think those are valid points, but in all honesty, I know that I stayed on my couch because, for me, I didn’t think there was much use in fighting anymore.” (43 min)

+ In this podcast episode, Mr. Tejan-Thomas follows 22-year-old activist Chi Ossé as he takes to the streets, founds Warriors in the Garden, and decides to run for New York City Council.

The Crow Whisperer

After crows attacked their dog, harassed their baby, and followed them around their neighborhood in Oakland, Dani Fisher and Adam Florin knew they had to call the local crow whisperer in order to avoid a murder. In this delightful piece, Lauren Markham follows Yvette Buigues as she mediates conflicts between humans and animals and performs energy healing on people’s pets, like Ernie the bull terrier and Bodie the cat. “Animals store pain and memories just like we do,” she says. (22 min)

+ Ms. Markham is one of my favorite writers. Her article, “Our School,” was one of my favorites of 2017. She also joined the podcast to discuss her outstanding piece, “The Girl Gangs of El Salvador.”

+ Reader Annotations

: Last week’s issue elicited many reactions. Loyal reader and teacher


shared her concern with “How First-Year Teachers Have Coped,” urging us not to normalize the expectation that beginning teachers should suffer as part of their teaching journey. She wrote, “Why do we feel like it’s OK for first-year teachers to feel ‘desperation?’ Is it just because we all did? Is it a type of hazing?” Great point, Katherine. Teaching should be joyful.

Other readers got the word out about last week’s lead article, “Coming of Age in a Pandemic.” Loyal reader and Art teacher


(aka First Guest Ever on The Highlighter Podcast) wrote, “I shared the piece with my classes and my colleagues. So good! Thank you.”

VIP Sivan

wrote, “Thanks for making me cry with this one.”

I also appreciated reading your words of encouragement for the newsletter in general. Loyal reader


wrote, “Thanks for keeping this going during this crazy year. It was a nice part of my weekly ritual when everything else was up in the air.”

I’m very grateful for this reading community. Please keep reaching out and sharing your thoughts. All you need to do is hit reply and start typing!

Did you hope

this issue would never end? Well, sadly, it is ending. Thank you for reading another issue of The Highlighter. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know what you thought by clicking on one of the thumbs below.

Also, to our new subscribers




, and


, I hope you find the newsletter a solid addition to your email inbox. Thank you to loyal reader


for getting the word out!

If you like The Highlighter, please help it grow. I appreciate your support. Here are a few ways you can help:

On the other hand, if you no longer want to receive this newsletter, please unsubscribe. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am PT!

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