#168: The Theater of Forgiveness
Happy Thursday, loyal readers — and a warm welcome to our 31 new subscribers! Tuesday’s election did not offer our country a clear path forward. Our divisions remain deep. This week’s issue, which features great articles on religion, racial terrorism, voting rights, immigration, and gun violence, explores the power of legacy. Can we as Americans learn and grow from our past? Or is our history embedded in our cultural DNA? I hope you find all four pieces illuminating, but if you have time to read just one, I recommend the lead article on forgiveness. It will move you.
+ Subscriber Contest Update: This week’s contest was a hard-fought nail-biter! In the end, Denise prevailed, recruiting eight new subscribers. Sad runners-up were Erin (7) and Jonathan (6). Congratulations, Denise, and enjoy your coveted Highlighter Mug! This week, we’re changing things up: You get one raffle ticket for each person you bring into our community, and then we’ll see who wins the drawing. When you spread the word, be sure to share this link so new subscribers can type in your name for credit. With your help, we’ll reach our goal of 100 new subscribers this month!
After Dylann Roof killed 12 Black churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015, members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church forgave him. President Obama sang “Amazing Grace.” The media marveled at the victims’ families acts of absolution, and white America sighed with relief. For Hafizah Geter, this sequence of events was an act of theater. Ever since slavery, when white people commit violence against Black people, there is a compulsion, rooted in Christianity, for Black people to forgive. The only other option, Ms. Geter argues, is rage, which white society does not tolerate — unless, of course, that rage turns inward, destroying the Black family, the Black body. (37 min)
+ Please let me know if you want to talk about this article. Hit reply, leave a voice message, or text / call me at (415) 886-7475.
Before becoming a MacArthur Genius and champion of school desegregation (and my favorite education reporter), Nikole Hannah-Jones spent time on the Mississippi Delta, where her family lived before coming north during the Great Migration. There, she reflected on the history of Jim Crow, the Black Civil Rights Movement, and the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. This is a powerful, poignant essay about legacy. (31 min)
Here’s loyal reader Marni hugging her dog Indie with all her might. A subscriber for more than three years, Marni likes reading The Highlighter on the big screen. “It’s the only way!” she says. (This is Indie’s third appearance. See #29 and #116.)
The Border and the History of Racialized Violence in America
The manufactured crisis of the migrant caravan, which President Trump called an “invasion,” is nothing new, according to Michelle García. Our country has a long history of demonizing and terrorizing Latinx people, ever since Manifest Destiny and the colonization of Texas. This violence was essential to the construction of our country and played a key role in our identity as a nation. I especially recommend this article for U.S. History teachers. (14 min)
+ If you like Ms. García’s writing, check out Part 2 of this series — about the theater of the border.
The Ultimate Good Guy With a Gun
One year ago, Stephen Willeford disrupted the mass murder at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs with an AR-15 of his own. He quickly became a hero and a symbol of the gun rights movement. A quiet, mild-mannered plumber, Mr. Willeford believes that God protected him during the massacre and the Holy Spirit gave him strength to engage in a battle of good vs. evil. (30 min)
+ Reader Annotations: Loyal reader Nicki wrote this about “The Legacy of Living With Guns,” last week’s stand-out article:
I was moved throughout Sara’s story as she shared her experiences with PTSD and depression, her relationship with her father and guns, and her fascination with Sarah Winchester. Although I am a Bay Area native, I have yet to visit the Winchester Mystery House. Now I have an additional reason to go!
I want to go, too! — let’s make it a Highlighter field trip. Anyone want to join us? Let me know.
Thank you very much for reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter. Use the thumbs below to tell me what you thought.
Also, let’s welcome this week’s 31 new subscribers: Phil, Aaron C, Sarah, Jessica, Cara, Kit, Sylvia, Claire, Emi, Will, Tracy, Dan, Vlad, Kevin, Jennifer, Jorge, Heather, Randi, Aaron B, Kristin, David, Micki, Denise, Telannia, Krystle, Kathryn, Henry, Aimee, Mia, Aimee, and Mindy!
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