#143: The 79 Bus
Happy Thursday, Loyal Subscribers! It’s time for some serious reading. This week’s articles run the gamut, offering perspectives on the criminalization of Black girls, the coca plant in Bolivia, and the demise of farmers in Kansas. If you’re pressed for time, I highly recommend “The 79 Bus,” which will elicit strong emotions.
Before we get to the articles, though, I’d like to say thank you to the 54 people who completed The Highlighter Reader Survey. I appreciated your feedback and ideas. A few nuggets: (1) 86% of you read the newsletter every week or two weeks! (2) 73% of you have recommended the newsletter to a friend! (3) Many of you want The Highlighter to become an article club, where there’s a greater emphasis on connecting with other readers. I can’t wait.
Raffle Winners: I’m pleased to announce that Kati (Fremont, CA) has won The Highlighter Mug, and Lisa (Henderson, NV) has won The Highlighter Tote. Congratulations! (Worried the raffle was rigged? No way. Here’s the official video.)
Brian Broome rides the 79 Bus every night after work back to his home in the East Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh. East Hills is a low-income area, and though Mr. Broome is Black and poor, too, he looks down on his neighbors, calling them pathetic and lazy. He’s not like them, he says. Mr. Broome’s writing is raw and tough to read. Right when you’re ready to give up, this article takes a big turn, and Mr. Broome’s judgment turns into epiphany. Once he realizes that “the white people are coming” — and that gentrification has been the plan all along — everything changes. (32 min)
Twelve Years Old, and Out of Time
Too many schools criminalize Black children. When they do, argues Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, they terminate childhood. This is the story of a bright girl who gets handcuffed in the middle of a classroom after smoking weed in a summer school bathroom. Ms. Cullors writes, “At the age of 12 I am on my own, no longer in the world as a child, as a small human, innocent and in need of support. I saw it happen to my brothers and now it was happening to me, this moment when we become the thing that’s no longer adorable or cherished. The year we become a thing to be discarded.” (11 min)
“Coca Is Not Cocaine.” Bolivia’s Quest to Spread the Gospel of Coca
The American War on Drugs has given coca a bad name, associating the plant with cocaine, a processed derivative. Over the past decade, Bolivia has turned away the Drug Enforcement Agency and marketed coca as a safe way to alleviate fatigue, stomachache, asthma, and altitude sickness. In doing so, the country’s leaders are also reclaiming coca as critical to indigenous culture. (24 min)
After some time away, Corie Brown returns to her home state of Kansas to find out no one lives there anymore. Why? The farms are too big. There’s too much wheat. Prices have plunged, slashing profits, encouraging farmers to, yes, grow more wheat. Feedlots and slaughterhouses seem like a good alternative, but that means recruiting immigrants as workers. Not too many Kansans want that. Better to take things day by day. (24 min)
Loyal reader Nancy Jo gave last week’s issue a thumbs-up (thank you!) and had this to say:
I have been thinking about White allyship and the connection to education. As an educator of color, I often question the “why” of White educators who have chosen to teach in schools that serve students of color. What would it look like for White educators committed to social justice to teach in schools where the demographics are mostly White? Does White allyship look like intentional space for educators of color to teach in urban and “underserved” schools?
Thank you, Nancy Jo, for your thoughtful questions. Loyal readers, what do you think? Reply to this email to continue the conversation. (Maybe this is the beginning of an article club?)
The Highlighter #143 has sadly come to an end. Tell me what you thought by using the thumbs below! Also, let’s welcome new subscribers Amy, Amy (two Amys!), David, Stephanie, Ana, Pamela, and Ben. If you like reading this newsletter, please forward it to someone who might like it, too. Thank you for getting the word out! If it’s not a great match for you, please unsubscribe. I’ll see you back here next Thursday at 9:10 am. Have a great week!
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