#286: The Stories I Haven’t Been Told
Hi loyal readers! This week, I’m trying a new design for the newsletter. Maybe you don’t notice anything different? If you do, let me know what you think: Do you like the new look? Or should we go back to classic?
This week’s lead article, “The Stories I Haven’t Been Told,” is a masterpiece. I hope you will find the time to read it. It’s powerful and beautifully written. I’d love to hear what you think.
The other pieces in today’s issue are also worthy of your reading time. R.O. Kwon writes a touching letter to Korean women after last week’s horrific murders. Sen. Raphael Warnock delivers a rousing speech for voting rights. Rebecca Solnit describes how Native Americans are infiltrating environmental groups to become more inclusive. And Paul Tough explains how the dismantling of the SAT hasn’t meant more inclusive admissions at elite colleges.
About that reading thing: If you love to read but can’t seem to find time, and you’re seeking support — you know, maybe like a reading buddy — please let me know. Our reading community has tons of generous people (like VIP Martha, for instance!), who would love to connect with you.
Also, there’s Article Club, which I find delightful, where a group of us read, annotate, and discuss one great article each month. The author participates, too, which is a bonus. Reach out if you’re sort of interested but are nervous or want to know more.
The Stories I Haven’t Been Told
Jamie Figueroa fills up cheap spiral-bound notebooks with words to explore where she comes from, who she is, and why she’s here. In this complex, powerful essay, Ms. Figueroa organizes those thoughts into a gripping narrative that reveals what she knows (and doesn’t know) about her Puerto Rican family’s history. Her process reveals deep truths about generational trauma, the effects of assimilation, the legacy of family, the shape-shifting of memory, and the power of writing.
Ms. Figueroa writes, “I come from women who were held down. Women who left their children and took in others. I come from women who fought back, who wielded knives, who shot guns. Wounded, wounding. Healed, healing. I come from Taíno women and Yoruba women. Black-skinned and brown-skinned women. I come from women who can lie so good, they can convince even themselves. Women who were remade, unrecognizable. Women who have started over too many times to count. I come from women who were deterred from their own wild knowing. Women who survived.” (27 min)
+ Please reach out if you want someone to listen as you process this piece. Also, I plan on inviting the author to an upcoming Article Club.
A Letter To My Fellow Asian Women Whose Hearts Are Still Breaking
R.O. Kwon: “It’s not just that I love being a Korean woman; I also love that my life is full of Korean women. No one is more intimidating to me than ferocious Korean women, and it is part of my life’s work to try to more fully be one of these women.
“Still and always, hypersexualized, ignored, gaslit, marginalized, and disrespected as we’ve been, I am so fortified, so alive, when I’m with us. You matter to me, we matter to me, and I would so much rather have us and our allies on our side than any of them. For we already belong.” (10 min)
In his first speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) condemns anti-Asian violence, shares the story of his ancestors, and persuades his colleagues to pass the For the People Act. It’s powerful. (22 min)
Environmentalists And The Sierra Club Are Finally Seeing Indigenous People
When you visit Yosemite or Yellowstone, and you gawk at the grandeur of Half Dome or Old Faithful, do you acknowledge that Indigenous people once called our country’s national parks their home? More than 100 years later after its inception, the Sierra Club is reckoning with its problematic founder, John Muir, and with its erasure of Native Americans. According to author Rebecca Solnit, a new generation of environmentalists — including the voices of Black and Indigenous people — have demonstrated “there is room to change who decides, who matters, who gets heard, whose story gets told.” (19 min)
+ Ms. Solnit appeared last in The Highlighter back in 2016, when her “Death By Gentrification” was one of the best articles of the year.
The Campus Tour Has Been Canceled: How The Pandemic Has Changed College Admissions
Mills College is closing, universities across the country are losing money, and high school seniors are taking gap years. But not everything is lost in higher education. The University of California and hundreds of other colleges no longer require the SAT or ACT to apply, signaling hope that admissions practices may become more equitable for first-generation students of color. But in this podcast episode, Ira Glass and Paul Tough report that student demographics will not shift dramatically because colleges still have to pay the bills. This means, of course, accepting more (white) students who can pay full price.
+ Mr. Tough is my second favorite education writer and the author of The Inequality Machine: How College Divides Us. He joined Article Club last February and answered our questions about “Getting an A,” a delightful story about a great student, a great teacher, and Calculus.
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