This week, we are reeling from the shock of another horrific mass murder. It is impossible to process. The articles in today’s issue will not mention the massacre, nor will they offer solace or specific means forward. In fact, three of the pieces may serve to confirm or exacerbate a lack of hope. But I chose these articles because they poignantly tell the truth about what we face. (If you’re not in the mood, skip to the last piece for a pick-me-up.) As always, thank you for being a loyal subscriber to The Highlighter, and I hope that these selections will help you through.
In our divided country, too often we don’t spend time learning about and listening to the people advocating for change. This profile of activist Jedidiah Brown tells the story of his unrelenting passion, his fight to prevent violence, and his campaign for better opportunities for African Americans in Chicago. At the same time, this article also explores the emotional toll Mr. Brown endures as a leader, which brings him to the brink of suicide. ⏳⏳
There are many reasons to read this moving essay by Nicole Chung. Simply, Ms. Chung knows how to write. She captures how no amount of American-ness suffices when a white person decides you’re Other. She extends this argument to include the loving and racist white family who adopted her. For Ms. Chung, the question is, What now? What to do with this burden? ⏳
This brilliant article (and podcast) by Caitlin Dickerson focuses on how fake news and conspiracy theories following a sexual assault on a girl last year stoked the fears of white residents in a small town in Idaho. Once Facebook groups and YouTube channels began spouting that Syrian refugees had committed the crime, no amount of fact or reason could prevent the vile response. Honestly, when I read an article like this, I don’t exactly know what to do. ⏳⏳
According to Aaron Edwards, group chats are havens for Black and brown people. They’re safe spaces for expression. He explains: “[Group chats are] an incubator for ideas, a compass for emotions, a jury balanced toward your best interests (“is he cute or does he just have dreadlocks?” as my friend likes to ask), and a gut check for ways to respond to (or endure) whiteness in contexts that range from casual annoyances to blatant racism.” Is he right? ⏳
This Week’s Podcast: I’ve been a big fan of writer Lauren Markham ever since I read “Our School” in #78. When “The Girl Gangs of El Salvador” was chosen lead article in #110, I invited her on the show, and she agreed. Our conversation centered on Ms. Markham’s writing and her work in Oakland with newly arrived immigrant youth. She’s also the author of The Far Away Brothers, which I recommend and which received a glowing review in The New York Times. If you haven’t listened yet, please do!
Thank you for reading The Highlighter #113! Are you feeling connected to the newsletter? Hope so. Let me know what you think (thumbs are below). Also, we had a bonanza of 14 new subscribers this week! Please welcome Caity, Dara, Reuben, Lara, Hannah, Brett, Joycelin, Seewan, Brittany, Laura, Elizabeth, Lesley, Rosie, and Shruti. Let’s keep growing The Highlighter community and making it stronger. Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.