Welcome to The Highlighter #123! I’m dedicating this final issue of the year to our favorite six articles of 2017. These are pieces that received the most clicks and responses; these are pieces that are wonderfully written; these are pieces that are moving and delightful. If you can, I encourage you to (re)read all six.
One thing, though, before we get to the articles. I want to thank you, loyal subscribers, for a wonderful year. We’ve built a robust, caring reading community at The Highlighter. Some highlights:
+ Last year, there were 85 of us. Now there are 312.
+ The newsletter came out 50 Thursday mornings in a row.
+ We published more than 200 articles.
+ We rebranded as The Highlighter (#80).
+ We launched a weekly podcast (#100).
+ We got a fancy website (#112).
+ We held 3 Highlighter Happy Hours.
I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2018. Now let’s get to the articles. Please enjoy!
This article by Lauren Markham (#63, #78, #110) was the year’s best piece on education. Ms. Markham reports on the new curriculum in Alaska’s North Slope Borough School District, home of the Iñupiat people. It is a story of how a community can rebuild its schools in order to decolonize, resuscitate, and heal. This article will push you to think about the big questions: What is education for? and What is the best way to teach our children? Ms. Markham was a guest on Episode #13 of the podcast. ⏳⏳
This article received the most reader responses. In scintillating prose, Ta-Nehisi Coates (#3, #10, #48, #58, #71, #109) argues that white liberals like to attribute President Donald Trump’s election victory to the economic angst of working-class white Americans. No way. White people from every socioeconomic group preferred Mr. Trump, and the 2016 election served to protect whiteness and white supremacy. Mr. Coates’s thesis rings even more true after Tuesday’s election in Alabama, where Black voters were responsible for Doug Jones’s victory. ⏳⏳⏳
Imagine arriving home from school to learn that your mom is in jail and likely will be deported. This is what happened to 10-year-old Angel Marin and his three sisters in Phoenix, Ariz. The day after their mother’s arrest, the children agreed not to tell anyone. Better to fend for themselves. The number of children who have lost their parents as a result of deportation is staggering — about 500,000 between 2009 and 2013. With the foster care system and child protective services overwhelmed, many children go unnoticed for long periods of time. Writer Lizzie Presser (#80) was also featured this year for her outstanding article on the cruise ship industry, “Below Deck.” ⏳⏳
There is a place in the Dominican Republic where one out of 90 people is born with sexual anatomy falling somewhere along a spectrum of biologically male and female. Unlike in the United States, where doctors diagnose intersex babies with a “disorder of sexual development” and most parents opt for surgery, the situation is different in Las Salinas. There, babies born with 5-alpha-reductase deficiency — who are genetically male but sometimes appear female — are generally raised as girls but switch to living as young men as they reach puberty, without much fuss. ⏳⏳
This was the most clicked article of the year. Please everyone read this piece, particularly if you’re a millennial or if you’re a non-millennial who doesn’t like millennials. (I like millennials.) Bijan Stephen (#114) explains why chain restaurants like Applebee’s are closing, and in the meantime, he captures the essence of what it means to be a millennial. Mr. Stephen’s writing is smart and fresh and funny. ⏳
This is my favorite article of the year. Kathryn Schulz (author of “The Really Big One,” about the catastrophic earthquake destined to hit the Pacific Northwest) begins this astounding piece with anecdotes about losing things — her keys, her wallet, her car. Then Ms. Schulz turns to the loss of her father, who died last year. Her writing is exquisite, and her thesis — that living is losing — will bring you pause, even if reading about death is something you’d rather not do. Big Surprise Bonus: Listen to an excerpt from the article, read by loyal subscriber and actor Shyanna Bryan. Thank you, Shyanna! ⏳⏳
This Week’s Podcast: Did you listen to Code Switch’s series on Ron Brown High School or read the NPR article on Ballou High School (#121), where all students graduate and get into college despite atrocious attendance? If so, this week’s podcast is for you. Educator Jamie Marantz emphasizes that educators must agree not only on the outcome they want for students but also on the road they will take to get there. Also, Jamie shared her thoughts on the silliness of the 100-point grading scale. Please listen, subscribe, tell your friends, and leave a review on iTunes!
That’s it for 2017! (I’m taking the next two weeks off.) Thank you for reading The Highlighter #123. Share your opinion below by giving this issue a thumbs-up or -down. You can also reply to this message by pressing R. Please welcome our new subscribers Daryl and Adejah! Tell your friends and family about The Highlighter by forwarding them this issue, sending them a link to subscribe, or encouraging them to check out the website! Have a wonderful two weeks, and I’ll see you again on Thursday, Jan. 4, at 9:10 am.