#88: Poor, Gifted, and Black

Hi there, loyal subscribers! I’m feeling pretty good about this issue. It includes 7 articles from va
The Highlighter - Mark Isero
#88: Poor, Gifted, and Black
By The Highlighter - Mark Isero • Issue #88
Hi there, loyal subscribers! I’m feeling pretty good about this issue. It includes 7 articles from various publications, covering new topics (e.g., education in South Africa, hot chicken in Nashville, disability in rural America) and following up on topics I’ve highlighted in the past (e.g., transphobia, fake news, S-Town, Ruth Bader Ginsburg). My hope is that you find that some of the topics I follow are ones you care about, too. Please enjoy!

Poor, Gifted, and Black
Though apartheid ended 23 years ago in South Africa, its legacy is alive and well. This article by Monica Mark profiles three black and colored college students who attend the elite and prestigious University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. They protest against rising tuition that further marginalizes black students, arguing for a “free and decolonized” education. Just because the university is open to students of color does not make it a place for liberation. There are obvious parallels to education in the United States. Also, if you haven’t read it yet, please check out Trevor Noah’s book, Born a Crime (#82), which is hot right now among KCP students in Oakland.
The Burning Desire for Hot Chicken
No fruit this week, but we’ve got hot chicken. I ate hot chicken for the first time last Fall when I visited Nashville for the wedding of loyal subscriber Tess. Very delicious! This piece tells the origin story of hot chicken, reviews three restaurants, and explains the science behind spicy foods (e.g., the interaction between the capsaicin in chilis and the receptor TRPV1 in our bodies). The point of this piece: We love things that hurt us.
Disabled or just desperate? Rural white Americans turn to disability
The number of people on disability has risen sharply over the past 20 years. Now 13 million — mostly rural white people — receive benefits. This article profiles Desmond Spencer, 39, who hasn’t had a job in more than a year, and whose family encourages him to apply for disability, because all of them are already on it.
Another reason I miss teaching is seeing my former students graduate from college. Here is Ramir at Sacramento State.
Another reason I miss teaching is seeing my former students graduate from college. Here is Ramir at Sacramento State.
Can schools help Americans do a better job separating fact from fake news?
Since the election, people have decried fake news and complained that public schools need to do a better job helping young people sift fact from fiction. (When in doubt, blame public schools.) This piece by education reporter Dana Goldstein (author of The Teacher Wars) is not your typical screed. It thoughtfully chronicles the history of civics education and media literacy, making the point that both have always been political and ideological. No matter our commitment to neutrality, what is considered fact is fraught. Want more? Here’s a good one from Pacific Standard.
The Practice of ‘Deadnaming’ Trans People: Why Does The Media Do It?
Some trans people have good relationships with the names they were given at birth. Others do not. Either way, why do so many media outlets publish trans people’s “deadnames” in their stories? Sam Riedel points out that the reason might be ignorance, or more likely, it’s malicious, positioning the practice as “just a difference of opinion” or “simply a disagreement.”
If you like YA, please check out The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas.
If you like YA, please check out The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas.
Longform Podcast: Brian Reed
Last week I recommended S-Town, the seven-part podcast “novel” narrated by Brian Reed. If you’ve already devoured S-Town, listen to this Longform podcast episode, where host Max Linsky interviews Mr. Reed. Warning: Major spoilers. On what S-Town is really about, Mr. Reed says, “It’s a story about the remarkableness of what could be called an unremarkable life.” Some people disagree, arguing that Mr. Reed’s reporting is inappropriate and invasive.
Want to Raise a Trail-Blazing Daughter? The Notorious RBG Says Do These 7 Things
This is the first listicle that has ever appeared in The Highlighter. It’s appropriate that this listicle involves Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Here she offers 7 tips for parents who want to ensure their daughters grow up strong like The Notorious RBG. And when I mean strong, I don’t mean physically. For that please see RBG’s workout in #83.
Hope you enjoyed today’s issue. If something caught your eye, or elicited an emotion, share your thoughts by pressing R. Also, please welcome new subscriber Selina (via loyal subscribers Monica & Niki)! This week’s homework: Copy and paste this URL — j.mp/thehighlighter88 — and send it to a friend, letting them know they must read every article and must get back to you with their thoughts, and by the way, why don’t they subscribe, too? Thank you, and see you next Thursday at 9:10 am!
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The Highlighter - Mark Isero
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