Black Children in a White World

What’s Lost When Black Children are Socialized into a White World (Dani McClain)

For many white parents, the process of socializing their children is an unalloyed good, an uncomplicated part of child-rearing that poses no real threat. For the mothers I spoke with, immersing their children in a school’s culture meant hoping they’d get what they needed academically without sustaining too much damage to their sense of self.

Not all children so gracefully develop survival strategies that allow them to participate in predominantly white schools while also resisting and even transforming the culture.

Critical Literature Theory

Critical Lit Theory as Preparation for the World (Randy Ribay)

It’s our responsibility to teach reality but also to equip them with both the intellectual and emotional capacity to process, respond, and repair the world. Because if we, as writers or educators, don’t examine challenging issues because they’re too controversial or too sad, then we’re turning our students into adults who turn a blind eye to injustice because it’s too controversial or too sad. And, in my opinion, there are far too many of those adults already.

Writing the Other

When It Comes to Writing the “Other,” What Questions are We Not Asking? (Alexander Chee)

“Do you have any advice for writing about people who do not look like you?”

Given all the excellent writing about the challenges of rendering otherness, someone who asks this question in 2019 probably has not done the reading. But the question is a Trojan horse, posing as reasonable artistic discourse when, in fact, many writers are not really asking for advice — they are asking if it is okay to find a way to continue as they have. They don’t want an answer; they want permission. Which is why all that excellent writing advice has failed to stop the question thus far.

Increasingly, this question is a trick question. A part of a game where writers of color, LGBTQ writers, women writers, are told to write as white men in order to succeed, and thus are set up to fail. While white men are allowed to write what they think the stories of these people are, and are told it is their right. This game is over.

Half of Wisconsin’s Black Neighborhoods are Jails (Brentin Mock)

There are 56 of them, 31 of which are either jails or prisons. There are 15 cities where the only black neighborhood is a jail. The city of Winnebago claims it has an African-American population of more than19 percent, but most, if not all, of that black population is located among one of four correctional facilities there. It’s perhaps no wonder that Wisconsin perennially comes up as the worst place for African Americans to live in the country.

Despite this terrible epidemic, it seems that whenever people try to speak out against it, they are met with backlash and apathy. Whenever people failed by a racially disparate economic system, a business-as-usual governmental system, and a rooted-in-slavery police system demand much-needed, life-or-death systemic changes by marching in the streets and chanting “Black Lives Matter,” they are somehow met with disdain for simply fighting for their freedom and their right to self-determination.

Civility is Overrated (Adam Serwer)

But while nonviolence is essential to democracy, civility is optional, and today’s preoccupation with politesse both exaggerates the country’s divisions and papers over the fundamental issues that are causing the divisions in the first place. The idea that we’re currently experiencing something like the nadir of American civility ignores the turmoil that has traditionally characterized the nation’s politics, and the comparatively low level of political violence today despite the animosity of the moment.

Societies are constantly renegotiating the boundaries of respect and decency. This process can be disorienting; to the once dominant group, it can even feel like oppression. (It is not.) Many of the same people who extol the sanctity of civility when their prerogatives are questioned are prone to convulsions over the possibility of respecting those they consider beneath them, a form of civility they deride as “political correctness.”

How Shondaland Changed the Way We View Abortions on TV (Renee Bracey Sherman)

Yet the depictions on Shonda’s shows are a critical step forward because they take care to portray abortion not just as a safe and simple medical procedure, but as an experience that can connect people to each other, help people achieve their life goals, or as something a character does and then goes on her way, not thinking about it ever again.