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#122: Two Schools of Thought

Happy Thursday and welcome to The Highlighter #122. I’d like to welcome our 14 new subscribers and the entire community. Thank you for your readership! This week, I’ve chosen articles about education, school segregation, xenophobia, and face blindness. All of the pieces are worth reading, of course, but if you have time for just two, check out the first and last ones. Let’s just say that I feel lucky that I do not suffer from prosopagnosia. Enjoy!

The New Subscriber Contest has concluded! To great fanfare, a total of 85 new subscribers have joined. (Hello, new subscribers, and welcome!) This week’s winner is Abby B. Thank you for your word of mouth! The overall winner of this month’s contest, and recipient of the grand prize, is Abby P! Congratulations! Be on the lookout for a photograph soon with the lucky winners, and please keep getting the word out about the newsletter. Thank you!

Also, HHH #3 is today at Dalva in San Francisco beginning at 5:30 pm. Get your free ticket here. The Highlighter Happy Hour is a great way to meet smart, caring people and chat about the articles!

Two Schools of Thought
Two Schools of Thoughtwww.newyorker.com

What’s the best way to educate our children? For Eva Moskowitz, the controversial founder and leader of Success Academy Charter Schools in New York, the recipe is one part rigid discipline, one part progressive curriculum. Ms. Moskowitz’s combative style has rankled many educators and politicians, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, for its punitive teaching techniques in the quest for order and excellence. But parts of Success Academy’s model — rigorous reading, academic conversation, in-depth project-based learning — are considered best practice across the country. (Too bad its teachers stay only three years, on average.) ⏳⏳

Will America’s Schools Ever Be Desegregated?
Will America’s Schools Ever Be Desegregated?psmag.com

Should we spend time and energy trying to desegregate schools, or is that goal impossible at this point? Does the average American even want their kids to attend integrated schools? This article argues that we should not abandon hope, that the dream of Brown v. Board is still attainable. Instead of making the excuse that housing segregation forces school segregation, it’s time to be creative and learn from case studies in Louisville and Hartford. One strategy is to blame charter schools for resegregation, as Myron Orfield (yes, the brother of UCLA’s Gary Orfield) is doing in a current lawsuit in Minnesota. ⏳

Reading is believing. Here is Samuel, loyal subscriber Beth’s son, getting ready to become a Highlighter subscriber.

Who Gets to Live in Fremont, Nebraska?
Who Gets to Live in Fremont, Nebraska?slate.com

Fremont, Nebraska is a little rural town of 26,000 people. Costco wants to build a $300 million chicken plant, which would create 1,000 jobs and promote partnerships with local farmers. But most Fremonters are leery about the proposition, even though they understand that their town desperately needs economic development. The problem is that the Costco project would attract more Latinos to Fremont. Things used to be better, they say, back in the 1950s, when meatpacking earned a solid salary, before unions were busted, and before Latinos came. ⏳⏳

Face Blindness: Who Are You Again?
Face Blindness: Who Are You Again?fivedials.com

Are you good with faces but not with names? For people with prosopagnosia, the opposite is true. The inability to recognize faces leads to embarrassment and debilitation. Read writer Sarah Lyall’s experience with face blindness, including her ways to cope, and if you’re not too nervous, take the Cambridge Face Memory Test, which is creepy even if you score well. (I scored below average.) ⏳⏳

This Week’s Podcast: Barbara Shreve is on this week’s show! An outstanding Math educator and my close friend, Barbara also has a background in journalism, which prompted her to select the Washington Post-Project Veritas article from last week’s issue. Barbara and I also trade stories about working on our high school newspaper together. If you like the podcast, encourage your friends to subscribe, or leave a review on iTunes!

Great work! You all did a fine job reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter. Share your thoughts below by giving this issue a thumbs-up or -down. Also, please welcome our new subscribers: Ana, Dana, Rebecca, Suzanne, Sunny, Namkyu, N, Jennifer, Christine, Carina, Woo, Nora, Arianna, and Cindy! 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 week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.

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#121: Everyone Gets Into College?

Hi there and welcome to The Highlighter #121! This week’s articles center on themes I’ve followed in previous issues of the newsletter: urban education, gentrification, journalism, and death. If you care about education, I highly recommend the lead article. It’s best read after listening to Code Switch’s four-part series on Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, which captivated many of you. Please reach out if you want to talk about the article.

Congratulations to loyal subscriber Jessica for winning this week’s round of the New Subscriber Contest. Great work! Honorable mentions go to Kiera, Abby P, Erik, Gail, and Omar. There is just one week left, and we’re 34 new subscribers away from meeting the goal of 100. Please think of one great person in your life who is currently bereft of The Highlighter. Rectify this situation by encouraging them to subscribe. Thank you!

Also, get your (free) ticket for Highlighter Happy Hour #3, which will be at Dalva in San Francisco next Thursday, Dec. 7, beginning at 5:30 pm. HHH is a great way to talk about the articles with smart, caring people like yourself. Extra points for newbies and returning subscribers!

What Really Happened At The School Where ‘Every Senior Got Into College’
What Really Happened At The School Where ‘Every Senior Got Into College’www.npr.org

Last year, every single graduating senior at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C. got accepted to college. Not bad, right? This exposé by NPR and WAMU’s Kate McGee begs to differ. Half of the seniors missed three months of school or more and still graduated. If you’re trending cynical about public education, this article will stoke your fire. Examples: students getting 50 percent on assignments they didn’t turn in, administrators urging teachers to pass students who rarely attended, hordes of students milling about in the gym instead of going to class, students taking credit recovery classes on computers as the norm, district officials (like former Oakland superintendent Antwan Wilson) spouting low-expectations gobbledygook. One reaction is to get angry and cast blame. Another is to acknowledge these practices happen everywhere. ⏳⏳

The Google Bus
The Google Busthepointmag.com

If you live in the Bay Area, you remember the protests against corporate buses that began in late-2013. This well-written reflection by Min Li Chan, who worked at Google, offers a perspective from a tech worker’s point of view. (Ms. Chan suggests that the term “techie” is pejorative.) The piece is naïve and defensive at points, particularly at the beginning, but if you keep reading, you’ll reach Ms. Chan’s point: When protesting gentrification, othering your opponent isn’t helpful and won’t solve the problem. ⏳⏳

Rockaway Beach, Pacifica.

Long Live Journalism
Long Live Journalismwww.washingtonpost.com

My high school newspaper adviser Nick Ferentinos  taught me the rights and responsibilities of the free press. The most important responsibility was making sure we got the facts right. The Washington Post passed that challenge this week as Project Veritas tried a sting operation to discredit the Post. If you haven’t seen this video of reporter Stephanie McCrummen and her professional questioning of scammer Jaime Phillips, please watch. While you’re at it, check out these 58 feel-good journalism movies, thanks to loyal subscriber Jessica. ⏳

Ushering My Father to a Good Death
Ushering My Father to a Good Deathlongreads.com

I keep featuring articles about death (#4, #15, #52, #66, #80, #109) to remind me of the gift of life. This poignant and intimate piece by Karen Brown, of her father’s death from pancreatic cancer, captures well the quotidian events that occur in the last days of our lives. After Ms. Brown’s father chooses to end dialysis, he drinks coffee, watches TV, has Faulkner read to him, listens to birds, and snuggles one last time with his daughter. 

Thank you for reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter! Share your thoughts below by giving this issue a thumbs-up or -down. Also, please welcome our new subscribers: Grace, Michele, Colm, William, Heather, Lois, Corey, Mark, Cindy, and Philippe! 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 week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.

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#120: Walking While Black

Happy Thanksgiving, loyal subscribers! Welcome to The Highlighter #120 and to the holiday season. Thank you very much for your readership. This week, I’ve chosen articles about discriminatory policing, deluded white voters, the depths of loneliness, and detecting Alzheimer’s Disease. Please enjoy!

New Subscriber Contest Update: Another 13 people joined this week, thanks to your word of mouth! There was a 3-way tie for this week’s winner: Kiera, Erik, and Abby P. Congratulations! We have just two weeks left, so get out there and encourage your friends, colleagues, and family to subscribe to The Highlighter. We can reach our goal of 100 new subscribers before Dec. 7!

Highlighter Happy Hour #3 will be at Dalva in San Francisco on Thursday, Dec. 7, beginning at 5:30 pm. Come meet other curious, caring close readers and chat about the articles! Check out the Events page for more info and how you can get your ticket.

Walking While Black
Walking While Blackfeatures.propublica.org

A few years ago, Jacksonville experienced a high rate of pedestrian fatalities. In order to fix the problem, the city decided to give tickets to jaywalkers, rather than to speedy drivers. But police officers didn’t end up targeting unsafe intersections where accidents had occurred. Instead, they gave citations disproportionately to Black people in Black neighborhoods. Until the case of Devonte Shipman, which cast a light on the discriminatory practice, thousands of African Americans had to endure the racist “stop and frisk of the South.” ⏳⏳

The Nationalist’s Delusion
The Nationalist’s Delusionwww.theatlantic.com

In this outstanding article, Adam Serwer continues the conversation where Ta-Nehisi Coates (#109) left off: that the election of Donald Trump was “less a story of working-class revolt than a story of white backlash.” Mr. Serwer argues that white people of all economic backgrounds vote for racist people and discriminatory policies, then delude themselves into thinking otherwise. Evidence: David Duke, Alexander Stephens, George Wallace, our president. Thank you to loyal subscribers Laura and Niki for alerting me to this article. ⏳⏳⏳

Stella, who belongs to loyal subscriber and former student Karisa, is pleased to have received her rabies shot.

The Legion Lonely
The Legion Lonelyhazlitt.net

For many people, the holiday season exacerbates feelings of despair and loneliness. This article explains the negative effects of social isolation, particularly on men. Given that friendships fade after we turn 25, and given that many (gay and straight) men eschew vulnerability and intimacy with other men, it is no surprise that loneliness has reached an almost epidemic status. ⏳⏳

What if You Knew Alzheimer’s Was Coming for You?
What if You Knew Alzheimer’s Was Coming for You?www.nytimes.com

My high school history teacher Rodger Halstead once asked, “Would you want to know the date of your death?” The question pushed us to think about how we wanted to live our lives. I was reminded of that question while reading this article on blood tests that will soon be available to predict our likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s Disease. If you had access to such a test, would you take it? Would you want to learn your fate? ⏳

This Week’s Podcast: We all know that The Highlighter likes science, and this week, not one but two science teachers enriched our show. Jonathan Wright and Philippe Vanier chatted about last week’s lead article, “Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?” They also discussed how teaching science in Salt Lake City is very different from teaching science in the Bay Area. Please enjoy the episode, tell your friends, and subscribe! (The podcast, with its seven five-star ratings, is becoming a force.)

You’ve reached the end of the 120th issue of The Highlighter! Let me know your thoughts below by giving this issue a thumbs-up or -down. Also, please welcome our new subscribers: Avi, Philippe, Justin, Jamie, Angela, Amanda, Luc, Ruth, Shannon, David, Carla, Jenn, Linda, and Nancy! Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.

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#119: Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?

Hi there, and welcome to The Highlighter #119! A big welcome to all the new subscribers. Our community is growing and getting stronger! The lead article this week describes a program at a private elementary school in New York that helps third graders talk about race before it’s too late. One example of too-late is described in the second article, which centers on the journey of a white supremacist. After the photo break, read pieces about choosing your perfect baby and about listening really fast. Enjoy!

New Subscriber Contest Update: Last issue, I announced this month’s campaign to encourage 100 smart, caring, and curious people to join The Highlighter. The first week of the contest was a huge success: 37 people subscribed! Thank you to everyone who got the word out. The competition was fierce! Our first week’s winner is, drumroll, Abby P, who was responsible for 8 sign-ups. Great work, Abby P! Who is going to win this week? Even if you don’t identify as competitive, this contest is for you, particularly after you see the zany prizes you’ll receive for participating. Please tell your friends and family to check out the newsletter and subscribe here.

Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?
Can Racism Be Stopped in the Third Grade?nymag.com

At Ethical Culture Fieldston School, a private school in the Bronx, third graders participate in a mandatory program designed to eradicate racism. Once a week, instead of engaging with issues of race as a whole class, students join affinity groups, where they discuss what it feels like to be a member of that race. Then they come back to the whole class to share out their perspectives. While this practice is fairly common among anti-racist educators, it is new for elementary school students, and some white liberal parents at the school would prefer that affinity groups go away. ⏳⏳

The Making of an American Nazi
The Making of an American Naziwww.theatlantic.com

I can’t seem to stop reading articles about regular white men who turn into white supremacists (#115) or white supremacists who disavow their views (#117). This profile of Andrew Anglin — founder of the Daily Stormer, a Nazi website — is not like those other pieces. This man is reprehensibly vile. Like most Alt-right trolls, Mr. Anglin combines psychopathy, sadism, narcissism, and Michaeiavellianism. But he adds to that racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and misogyny. Mr. Anglin’s story is deeply disturbing, and though it might feel better to skip this article, I recommend reading it, trigger warnings and all. ⏳⏳

Bailey, who belongs to loyal subscriber and podcast guest Sonya, doesn’t understand why it’s snowing. You live in Chicago, Bailey!

Eugenics 2.0: Choosing Embryos by Health, Height, and More
Eugenics 2.0: Choosing Embryos by Health, Height, and Morewww.technologyreview.com

Suppose you and your partner were pursuing in vitro fertilization and could tell which embryo had the highest likelihood of becoming the tallest, smartest, or healthiest person? Would you want to know? To choose? Though most of us say no, the technology is coming, and scientists at Genomic Prediction say that people’s views will change once offered the option of building a super baby. 

Meet The People Who Listen to Podcasts Crazy-Fast
Meet The People Who Listen to Podcasts Crazy-Fastwww.buzzfeed.com

In addition to my reading habit, I enjoy a good podcast or 25. Do you? Ever since Serial launched in 2014, I’ve listened to podcasts while running or driving or getting ready for the day. But by no means am I a “podfaster.” These obsessive people feel the need to listen to hundreds of hours of podcasts a week, completing episodes in order, often at rapid clips. Why listen to a recording at 1x when you can listen at 10x? ⏳

This Week’s Podcast: It was a wonderful pleasure to have my friend and loyal subscriber Sonya Wang on the show. Sonya talked about choosing the right school for her daughter, loving college football, and feeling anxious about buying a home in the Bay Area. We also chatted about “It’s Real Down Here,” last week’s article about living in the Deep South. Please listen and subscribe!

You have completed The Highlighter #119! Let me know your thoughts below by giving this issue a thumbs-up or -down. Also, please welcome our new subscribers: Christina, Kira, Genna, Jenn, Sele, Tark, Neelam, Sarai, Melanie, Mike, Robert, Kirthi, Kate, Sarah, Alysia, Chris, Shyanna, Josh, Laura, Gerald, Phillip, Tommy, Dan, Christine, Sarah, Sheila, Steve, Brigid, Leslie, Rachel, Louise, Barb, Cathy, Angad, Claire, Rachelle, and Peter! Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am for this year’s Thanksgiving edition.

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#118: The Voice

Hi there and welcome to The Highlighter #118! Today’s articles center on the legacy of Whitney Houston, the experience of living in the Deep South as a Black man, the power and discomfort of the n-word, the discrimination that fat people face from their doctors, and the possibility that the Abominable Snowman exists. It’s quite a spectrum! Please enjoy.

Ready for a contest? November is New Subscriber Month at The Highlighter. The goal is to gain 100 new subscribers — bold! audacious! entirely attainable! — and to get there, I’m announcing the First-Annual New Subscriber Contest. Your goal is to encourage your smart, caring, and curious friends and family to sign up for The Highlighter. The more, the better — except don’t spam them, or sign up for them, or employ some pyramid scheme! We’re looking for folks who will make this community even stronger. And don’t worry, there will be big and zany prizes. (More about those next week.) The contest starts now and ends Dec. 7. To get your points, make sure new subscribers sign up here and write your name where it asks, “How did you find out about The Highlighter?” Good luck!

The Voice
The Voicevelamag.com

Whitney Houston died almost six years ago. This profile by Danielle Jackson captures not only Ms. Houston’s talent but also her legacy. Ms. Jackson writes, “Her problems were as much external as they were internal—for the truth is, in America, being a black woman audacious enough to possess and claim her own brilliance means following a fraught and tenuous path that many do not survive.” Comparing Ms. Houston’s career with those of Aretha Franklin and Billie Holliday, Ms. Jackson concludes that singing is a fierce embodiment of despair, longing, and joy. ⏳⏳

It’s Real Down Here: Living in the Deep South as a Black Man
It’s Real Down Here: Living in the Deep South as a Black Manwww.vox.com

Jemar Tisby is a former teacher and principal who moved from Waukegan, Illinois, to the Mississippi Delta when he joined Teach for AmericaThis essay explains his decision to stay after he completed his two-year agreement. An African American man, Mr. Tisby argues that the South offers an “unshakable respect for who I am and where I come from.” He notices that living in the South, especially now, has emboldened him to live with “no explanations, no apologies, no fear.” 

No Fatties: When Health Care Hurts
No Fatties: When Health Care Hurtslongreads.com

Our country doesn’t like fat people: They’re lazy, indulgent, and greedy. It turns out that doctors don’t like fat people, either. “A fat person walking into a doctor’s office can expect lectures, condescension, and misdiagnoses from a medical culture that chalks every health issue up to weight,” author Cary Purcell writes. In other words, it may not be obesity that leads to worse life outcomes. Rather, it may be the scorn and contempt. ⏳⏳

How to Rank Fantastic Beasts
How to Rank Fantastic Beastswww.newyorker.com

Here’s a list of some pretty great things: Tooth Fairy, Loch Ness Monster, Santa, Abominable Snowman. Which is most likely to exist? The brilliant Kathryn Schulz (#80), author of “The Really Big One,” answers this question as she considers the possibility of impossible things. Our minds work in mysterious ways! (Also read this piece if you want to learn more about manticores, lamias, and Scythian lambs.) Thank you to loyal subscriber Tyler for submitting this article. ⏳⏳

Loyal subscribers Alex and Juliana are hard at work. Good thing they are highlighting with The Highlighter highlighters. Alex and Juliana received these limited-edition highlighters because they attended Highlighter Happy Hour #2 last Thursday in Oakland. A total of 28 smart, caring, and curious people came to the event. Look out for HHH #3 next month!

This Week’s Podcast: More joy and deep thoughts surfaced this week as my former student Kati Parker joined me on the podcast. Kati was part of the 1999-2000 We the People class at Irvington High School in Fremont, which came in fourth place at the state civics competition in Sacramento. On the show, Kati talked about “The Gentrification of Soul Food” and the difference between appreciation and appropriation. Please listen and subscribe!

All good things must come to an end. I hope you enjoyed The Highlighter #118. Let me know your thoughts below by giving this issue a thumbs-up or -down. Also, please welcome our 14 new subscribers: Karisa, Aubrey, Lynette, Tom, Sue, Pang Houa, Joel, Lindsey, Ron, Dina, Elizabeth, Emily, Lopez, and Cris! Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.

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#117: White Flight

Welcome to The Highlighter #117! I’m happy you’re here. The first three articles this week — which focus on race — are in conversation with articles that have appeared previously. If you have time, consider them in tandem:

#1: “White Flight” –> “Birth of a White Supremacist” (#115)
#2: “The Gentrification of Soul Food” –> “Hot Chicken” (#88)
#3: “Slippery Slope” –> “Whose Heritage?” (#106)

The only odd duck this week comes last, and it’s a good one, too: a 30-minute adventure into the wacky world of the online mattress industry. Please enjoy! And if you’re in Oakland later today, swing by HHH #2 (last-minute tickets are still available).

White Flight
White Flightwww.washingtonpost.com

Two Highlighters ago, I featured an article about a regular guy and his journey to become a white supremacist. This story is the opposite. Derek Black (here on The Daily podcast) grew up in a white supremacist household: his dad maintained Stormfront, the country’s largest white nationalist online community, and his mom was once married to David Duke (Derek’s godfather). In his teens, Derek vowed to “take the country back” and to fight against “white genocide,” a term he made popular on his radio show. Then, one day in college, classmate Matthew Stevenson, an Orthodox Jew, invited Derek to Shabbat dinner, and Derek’s transformation began. ⏳⏳

The Gentrification of Soul Food
The Gentrification of Soul Foodwww.highsnobiety.com

Over the past decade, “soul food” has morphed into “Southern food,” as white chefs have appropriated African American cuisine. Author Eboni Harris explains the history of soul food and its recent acceptance among white people. As a result, a type of gentrification has followed. Hip restaurants have made soul food fancy, raising prices along the way, while failing to hire African American chefs. Thank you to loyal subscriber Morenike (#114) for submitting this article. 

Muffin Season is here.

On Dismantling Historical Monuments: The Slippery Slope Argument Is Real
On Dismantling Historical Monuments: The Slippery Slope Argument Is Realwww.nationalreview.com

Part of my mission at The Highlighter is to encourage this community, which is predominately liberal, to read well-written articles from a variety of viewpoints. This essay by Michael Brendan Dougherty offers a reasoned defense of Slippery Slope from a conservative perspective. After softening his reader’s skepticism, Mr. Dougherty applies Slippery Slope to the current debate on whether to topple historical monuments. ⏳⏳

The War To Sell You A Mattress Is An Internet Nightmare
The War To Sell You A Mattress Is An Internet Nightmarewww.fastcompany.com

Did you think you were doing the right thing buying a mattress from an online company like Casper so you could avoid shady salespeople at your local mattress store? Guess again. Welcome to the cutthroat world of online mattress reviewers, lucrative affiliate links, shady search engine optimization, and big-time lawsuits. This $14 billion industry is a racket all the way through. ⏳⏳

This Week’s Podcast: If you care about reading, or if you care about Oakland (or both), listen to this week’s podcast with my friend and loyal subscriber Nancy Lai. Nancy is the director of literacy at Oakland Unified School District. On the show, Nancy chatted about the importance of reading and her take on “The Ghosts of the Tsunami” (#116). Listen, rate, and subscribe!

Oh no, you’ve reached the end of The Highlighter #117. Hope you enjoyed your stay! Let me know what you thought. One easy way is by pressing R to reply. Also, please welcome new subscribers Anna, Arantxa, and Roilyn! The community is growing ever stronger because you’re getting the word out. Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.

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#116: The Ghosts of the Tsunami

It’s time for The Highlighter #116! Hope you’ve had a good week. For the most part, today’s pieces are haunting and disturbing. The lead article focuses on the lasting effects of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011. The second article details Wisconsin’s tactics to suppress the vote. Then comes a needed photo break — Indie’s second appearance (see #29). Below the fold, it’s a 1-2-3 combination of Boko Haram, urban education, and narcolepsy. Please enjoy!

The Highlighter IRL: Get your tickets now for the second Highlighter Happy Hour at Room 389 in Oakland next Thursday, Nov. 2, 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Come meet the other great folks who make up this community of caring close readers. Better yet: Take the whole day off, read all the articles, and be truly prepared. Your boss won’t mind!

The Ghosts of the Tsunami
The Ghosts of the Tsunami longreads.com

Shortly after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that killed 16,000 people, Takeshi Ono began acting like a beast. He crawled on all fours and rolled around in the mud. In the night, Mr. Ono waved a knife at his wife and threatened to kill her. A priest at the local Zen temple told him: “Something got hold of you, perhaps the dead who cannot accept yet that they are dead. They have been trying to express their regret and their resentment through you.” In the tsunami’s aftermath, the relationship among the living and the dead in Japan got out of balance, and thousands of gaki, or “hungry ghosts,” threatened to possess those who survived. ⏳⏳

Voter Suppression in Wisconsin
Voter Suppression in Wisconsinwww.motherjones.com

Ari Berman (#63) is back with another article about voter suppression — this time, on Wisconsin. Skip the clickbait headline and read about how the state’s voting requirements — a current driver’s license, passport, or state or military identification — excludes 9 percent of the electorate. Poor and African American voters are affected most. Since Shelby County v. Holder (2013) ransacked the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 22 states have passed restrictive voting laws. That trend will not reverse anytime soon. ⏳⏳

Avid reader Indie, who belongs to loyal subscribers Marni and Byron, would like to interview Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Highlighter Podcast. If you’d like to be a guest on the show, let me know! highlighter.cc/podcast

The Girls Who Survived Boko Haram
The Girls Who Survived Boko Haramwww.nytimes.com

Prepare to be horrified. Sometimes, our world is a very bad place. So far this year, Boko Haram has used 110 girls in suicide attacks in northwestern Nigeria. The choice is be raped or blow yourself up. Here are the stories of 18 girls who resisted, chose a different path, and are alive today. (For more on Boko Haram, see Issue #100.) ⏳

“They Can’t Just Be Average,” Lifting Students Up Without Lowering The Bar
“They Can’t Just Be Average,” Lifting Students Up Without Lowering The Barpca.st

NPR’s Code Switch Podcast is doing a three-part series on Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, a new school for African American boys in Washington D.C. This second episode focuses on the limitations of restorative justice and the challenges of supporting students with low skills. Also, listen carefully: There’s definitely deficit-based, savior-mentality thinking going on here. ⏳⏳⏳

Why We Still Don’t Understand Sleep
Why We Still Don’t Understand Sleepmosaicscience.com

In high school, loyal subscriber Barbara and I wrote an article for our school newspaper about the effects of sleep deprivation. Since then, I’ve been fascinated with sleep and its many disorders. This article is about narcolepsy, which affects 1 in 2,500 people. Get ready for some science about sleep, including a primer on neuropeptides, orexin, and how Doberman Pinschers helped a Stanford researcher unlock the cause of narcolepsy. ⏳⏳

This Week’s Podcast: If my metrics are correct, it seems like everyone is listening to this week’s episode, which features my good friend Sejal Patel. A mother of three boys, Sejal talks about how she advocates for her children in school while understanding the demands that teachers face. Then, out of nowhere, we chat about white supremacists. Let me know your thoughts about the show, and if you like it, please subscribe!

Thank you for reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter. As always, let me know what you thought (thumbs are below). Also, please welcome new subscribers Caitlin, Bela, Felsha, Maria, and Thea! It makes me happy that this community is growing. Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.

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#115: Birth of a White Supremacist

Hello loyal subscribers! This week’s issue of The Highlighter begins all doom and gloom but gets more hopeful as you progress through the articles. The first two pieces continue the conversation from last week about our divided, tribalist country. The first chronicles the transformation of a white man from Basic Neighborhood Contrarian to Crazy White Supremacist. The second explains the power of attributing evil to “them” while assigning good to “us.” After the photo break (an invite to the second Highlighter Happy Hour), you’re in for a double dose of goodness. You just can’t go wrong with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Nora the Polar Bear. Please enjoy! 

Birth of a White Supremacist
Birth of a White Supremacistwww.newyorker.com

Not all disaffected white men end up becoming racist white supremacists. But this profile of Mike Enoch explains how quickly some people can latch on to hateful ideologies. Author Andrew Marantz presents many layers in this piece, but what’s clear is how Mr. Enoch needed something to soothe his feelings of inadequacy. Believing that white people are superior did the trick. If you’re interested in learning more, listen to This American Life’s “White Haze” (59 mins). Bonus: Want to read a version of the article that includes my highlights and annotations? It’s your lucky day⏳⏳

The Power of Negative Thinking
The Power of Negative Thinkingnewrepublic.com

This is a thoughtful analysis of Donald Trump’s success and allure. The secret: Aggrandize yourself and vilify your opponents. This strategy works because it is in line with Protestant tradition, all the way from early America to The Power of Positive Thinking, whose author was Mr. Trump’s pastor. Author Jeet Heer suggests that Democrats do something similar (though kinder) in 2018. ⏳

Talk about the articles in real life at the Highlighter Happy Hour! Let’s meet up at Room 389 in Oakland on Nov. 2, 5:30 – 7:30 pm. You might want to get your tickets soon! www.highlighter.cc/events.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Beyoncé of Journalism (and My Favorite Reporter)
Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Beyoncé of Journalism (and My Favorite Reporter)www.kappanonline.org

Nikole Hannah-Jones (#18, #22, #46, #47, #65, #82) is my favorite education reporter. Now she’s a MacArthur Genius! Good job, Nikole: You’ve made The Highlighter proud. This profile provides a solid history of Ms. Hannah-Jones’s career — how she got into journalism and why she cares about school segregation. Like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ms. Hannah-Jones doesn’t believe it’s her responsibility to give white people hope. Want more? Here’s her interview with the New York Times. ⏳

The Loneliest Polar Bear
The Loneliest Polar Bearprojects.oregonlive.com

Unless you are immune to all feelings, this series (5 parts in all, plus a 30-min video!) will tug at your heartstrings. Follow Nora the Polar Bear and read about all the challenges she’s faced since her birth at the Columbus Zoo. To balance out the cuteness, learn more about how humans may cause the bears’ extinction sooner rather than later. ⏳⏳⏳

This Week’s Podcast: My friend and former colleague Laura Hawkins is on this week’s episode of The Highlighter Podcast. A Math teacher in San Francisco, Laura believes in putting statistics and data sets in front of her students that will challenge their bias. On the show, we talked about Andrew Sullivan’s article from #114 and grappled with what we can do to combat our increasingly tribalist country. Please take a listen, and if you’re impressed, go ahead and subscribe!

You’ve reached the end of The Highlighter #115. Thank you for being a loyal subscriber. Let me know what you thought (thumbs are below). Also, please welcome new subscribers Maria, Nick, Karen, and Tarik! If you are moved, forward this newsletter right now to a friend and write a heartfelt message encouraging them to subscribe. You’ll be happy; they’ll be happy; I’ll be happy. Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you again next Thursday at 9:10 am.

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#114: Secrets of the South

Hi there, it’s time for The Highlighter #114. This issue, there are articles about millennials (and where they eat), teachers of color (how there aren’t many), loyal tribalists (who might hasten the end of America), and powerful women (meeting gloriously in secret). If you want to be inspired, read the first article. If you want to be concerned, read the second and third. If you’re a millennial, or a non-millennial who is obsessed with millennials, start with the last piece first. Please enjoy!

Secrets of the South
Secrets of the Southwww.lennyletter.com

Too many secret societies are reserved for white supremacists or privileged Ivy Leaguers. That’s why this article about the United Order of Tents (“Successful Women Bridging the Past Upholding the Future”) is so refreshing. A semi-covert organization for African American women, the Tents was founded in 1867 by Annetta Lane and Harriett Taylor. The Tents promote sisterhood, empowerment, and service toward others. After a downturn in membership after the Civil Rights movement, the group’s popularity and power are once again on an upswing. ⏳⏳

Can Our Democracy Survive Tribalism?
Can Our Democracy Survive Tribalism?nymag.com

For years we’ve heard about red and blue states and about how we’re divided as a country — liberal coastal elites vs. Middle America. Andrew Sullivan goes further in this article, arguing that the United States has become a tribal nation. Facts and reason no longer matter; we extol our leader while vilifying our enemy. There is no pathway to compromise. Though I agree with many of Mr. Sullivan’s claims, his solutions rely on old myths of America that are woefully lacking. Still, I recommend this piece because of the excellent and thought-provoking prose. ⏳⏳⏳

If you’ve seen Big Night (1996), you know about the famous timpano. Loyal subscribers Lynna and Peter (with help from loyal subscriber Erin) successfully re-created the dish this weekend at our book club’s annual retreat in Aptos. Inside the crust you’ll find ziti with sauce, sausage, meatballs, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs.

Diversifying the Classroom
Diversifying the Classroomwww.urban.org

Students of color do better when they have teachers who look like them. The problem is that the great majority of American teachers are white. This succinct research report does a great job detailing the gap. Take time with the graphs. They’ll explain clearly how the pipeline of potential teachers of color narrows so quickly and relentlessly. ⏳

Applebee's Deserves to Die
Applebee's Deserves to Diewww.eater.com

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 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. Big thanks to loyal subscriber Morenike for sending in this article. ⏳

This Week’s Podcast: My friend and former colleague Nicholas Woo is on this week’s episode of The Highlighter Podcast. A former teacher and academic director, Nicholas now serves as a data and evaluation associate at Partnership with Children in New York City. Nick believes that teachers and schools alone cannot meet the needs of young people living in poverty. Please take a listen, and if you’re impressed, go ahead and subscribe!

We’ve arrived at the end of The Highlighter #114. Hope you enjoyed the ride. Let me know what you thought (thumbs are below). Also, please welcome new subscribers Sharon and Heidi! 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.

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#113: The Anguish of Activism

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.

The Anguish of Activism
The Anguish of Activismhighline.huffingtonpost.com

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. ⏳⏳

On American Identity, the Election, and Family Members Who Support Trump
On American Identity, the Election, and Family Members Who Support Trumplongreads.com

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? ⏳

Here are loyal subscribers Aletheia and Jessica at the Inaugural Highlighter Happy Hour last Thursday at Room 389 in Oakland. It was great to see everyone there! If you want to join next time, check out www.highlighter.cc/events.

How Fake News Turned a Small Town Upside Down
How Fake News Turned a Small Town Upside Downwww.nytimes.com

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. ⏳⏳

Long Live the Group Chat
Long Live the Group Chattheoutline.com

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.