#271: The Promise
Yes, The Highlighter comes out on Thanksgiving! Hope yours is going well so far. If you’re spending time with family, whether safely in person or from afar, feel free to prattle on about the newsletter and sing its praises. Then when you’re ready, whisk yourself away to an undisclosed location for a relaxing reading session, complete with a tasty beverage and one (or four) of this week’s outstanding articles. Sound like a plan?
You’ll want to check out today’s lead article, “The Promise That Tested My Parents Until The End,” a son’s tribute to his parents — and a story of love and heartbreak. Then take some time for your emotions, or to reconnect with your loved ones, before sinking into articles that explore the latest college predatory lending scheme, the power of racist language, and the difference between transracial and transgender identity. Please enjoy!
+ Last Sunday at Article Club, poet Hafizah Geter joined us for our discussion of her stunning “Theater of Forgiveness.” She even stayed afterward to answer questions. If you want more reading and connection in your life, check it out!
+ Please reach out and say hi. You can hit reply, record a short voice message, or compose a kind testimonial. Thank you!
The Promise That Tested My Parents
In this tender essay, author Christopher Solomon explores the love his parents had for each other, a devotion that included their promise never to put the other in a nursing home, which they considered horribly sad places. When Christopher’s dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, however, and his dementia progressed, Christopher’s mom endured years of suffering as his caretaker, feeling stuck in a promise she no longer could keep.
This is a sad story. But it’s a beautiful one, too, because of Mr. Solomon’s sentimental, vulnerable writing about love. He writes, “The way I feel about love is the way I feel standing before the ocean. Its vastness frightens me — to give yourself over to something so large, so borderless, so beautiful, so brutal. If you are lucky, you will have someone for whom you will want to do whatever it takes, and without question, until the very end.” (18 min)
+ Did this piece resonate with you? If so, let’s try something new. Do you see the bubble below? Click on it, scroll down to the bottom, and type a quick thought about how this article made you feel. My hope here is to give us a space to share and connect.
The New Indentured Servitude: College Income Share Agreements
With student debt at $1.6 trillion and growing, it’s no wonder that students are skipping loans and looking for better solutions to pay for college. Unfortunately, income share agreements, where you pay no tuition now in exchange for a percentage of your post-grad salary later, have emerged as the newest predatory lending scheme. Didn’t graduate? Too bad: You have to pay up anyway. What’s worse is that, to fund your education, colleges seek out investors that gamble on you and your future earning potential. Critics call this the New Indentured Servitude, and you know what? They’re right. (29 min)
+ Check out my annotations on a print version of the article. They don’t call me The Highlighter for nothing! 😀
You are warmly invited to the The First Annual Highlighter Game Show on Thursday, Dec. 10, 5:30 - 6:30 pm PT. Get ready for friendly competition, keen strategy, and general merriment (plus tons and tons of prizes!). It’s going to be a great way to connect and build our reading community. Get your free ticket here: hltr.co/gameshow
Superpredator: The Media Myth That Demonized A Generation of Black Youth
Language matters. In an interview 25 years ago, white professor John Dilulio coined the term “superpredator” to describe a new threat: “a young, juvenile criminal, who is so impulsive, so remorseless, that he can kill, rape, maim without giving it a second thought.” The new threat didn’t exist; crime plummeted in the 1990s. Still, both conservative and liberal media spread the term, connecting crime with Blackness, deepening already prevalent racist beliefs and furthering racist policies. In 2001, Prof. Dilulio apologized for “any unintended consequences” his false theory had caused. (10 min)
+ Do you remember when Hillary Clinton used the term?
Why We Shouldn’t Compare Transracial to Transgender Identity
Five years ago, Caitlyn Jenner came out as her authentic self and demanded recognition as a woman. That same month, Rachel Dolezal announced that she self-identified as Black despite having no Black ancestry. In this piece, Robin Dembroff and Dee Payton argue that even though both gender and race classifications are malleable, being Black carries “intergenerationally inherited inequalities” and is “a matter of how your community and ancestors have been treated by other people, institutions, and governments.” Transracial identification (most recently, Jessica Krug) therefore undermines our ability to reckon with historical injustice. (21 min)
+ In case you want more: Ijeoma Oluo excoriates Ms. Dolezal in this classic Highlighter article from 2017.
And with that, this week’s issue of The Highlighter comes unfortunately to an end. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know what you thought about today’s issue by hitting reply or by clicking on the thumbs below. Or leave a voice message, like loyal reader Blevins! I’m grateful for your feedback.
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