#237: Land-Grab Universities
Welcome to April, loyal readers, and thank you for opening this week’s issue of The Highlighter. I’m still processing yesterday’s announcement that public schools in California will remain closed until the Fall. It’s very strange. In addition to learning more about the best practices of distance learning, and collaborating with colleagues over Spring Break, I’ve had more time to read, and I’m confident you’re going to enjoy today’s selections.
This week’s lead article, “Land-Grab Universities,” which I highly recommend, does an outstanding job tracing how many of our most prestigious universities grew prominent as a result of the capture and redistribution of Native American lands. If that topic is not for you, check out a profile of La’Darius Marshall, a critique of the latest fat-shaming show, and a warning about imminent water shortages.
+ Tired of so many Zoom calls back to back? Take a break, read a few of today’s articles, hit reply, and say hi!
We know about the Trail of Tears, the brutal effects of Manifest Destiny, and the genocide of Native Americans by the United States government. But we might not know about how the federal seizure of Indigenous lands led directly to the ascent of the American higher education system.
Maybe you’ve heard of Cornell? Or MIT? Or UC Berkeley? Or any of these 49 other universities? All of them exist because of the Morrill Act of 1862, which cut up 11 million acres of tribal land and granted parcels to states for the construction and endowment of colleges.
“There would be no higher education as we know it in the United States without the original and ongoing colonization of Indigenous peoples and lands, just like there would be no United States,” said Sharon Stein, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. (27 min)
+ I recommend this article especially to U.S. History teachers.
La’Darius Marshall: “When I’m Performing, You’re Going To See Me.”
By no means am I a TV connoisseur, but that didn’t stop me from seeing (and enjoying) Cheer when it aired earlier this year. In this profile of the show’s breakout star, La’Darius Marshall — his senior season canceled due to the coronavirus — opens up about how Cheer transformed him, contemplates what’s next, and shares his appreciation for his coach, his boyfriend, and Nicki Minaj. (12 min)
Penny, who belongs to loyal reader Martha, enjoys long bike rides. Want your pet to appear in The Highlighter? hltr.co/pets
No Winners with “The Biggest Loser”
Once a huge hit, The Biggest Loser, which features fat people competing against each other to lose the most weight the fastest, fell on hard times a few years ago as the wellness craze rebelled against the show’s fat-shaming ways. (It didn’t help that contestants gained their weight back and that beloved trainer Bob Harper nearly died of a heart attack.) After being canceled in 2016, the show is back, taking a more holistic view of health, yet keeping the weekly weigh-ins and the belief that “light is right.” (18 min)
+ For more great articles on dieting and body positivity, check out this Highlighter Spotlight.
According to the United Nations, within five years, two thirds of the world’s population will experience “water stress,” meaning there won’t be enough, it’ll be dirty, or impossible to access. A resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Rosa Lyster knows about drought, and in this troubling article, she travels to Mexico City, explains why it’s sinking, connects water shortages with increased violence against women, and illustrates how climate change is making things worse. (13 min)
+ Here’s more about our global water crisis, a slightly more positive take from Issue #158.
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