#322: The Rest Of His Life
Last week, the white men who killed Ahmaud Arbery were convicted of murder. But we know how The World works: Life goes on, we don’t take time to reflect, and we move on to the current day’s threats – whether that’s Omicron or Dobbs v. Jackson or the various other many calamitous events popping up in our newsfeed.
But if it’s OK with you, loyal readers, this week I’d like us to pause for a bit to honor the life of Mr. Arbery. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to read “Twelve Minutes And A Life,” by Mitchell S. Jackson, one of the best articles of the year. Then dive into today’s issue, first by listening to Mr. Jackson read an excerpt from the piece, and then by taking in his recent reflection. The other two articles are also worth your time – a profile of Glynn County, Georgia, where Mr. Arbery lived, and an essay pleading with us not to forget him.
+ Last week I went on and on about The 1619 Project and asked if you want to discuss the book with me. I’m thinking we’ll start in January, take things slowly, and see where things go. If you’re interested, please subscribe to Article Club, where I’ll be sharing updates.
+ You’re warmly invited to Highlighter Happy Hour #15 next Thursday at 5:30 pm at Room 389 in Oakland. HHH is a joyful way to connect with other thoughtful readers. Space is limited to 20 people. (There are 7 spots left.) The grand prize is a good one. Sign up here and bring your vaccine card.
+ Random Reading Tip #1: There are three ways you can click to read an article: (1) the title, (2) the URL, (3) the image. Who knew? 🤷♂️
The best nonfiction writing is poetic and deserves to be listened to as well as read closely. That’s the case with “Twelve Minutes And A Life,” which won this year’s Pulitzer Prize. In this 16-minute podcast episode, author Mitchell S. Jackson reads an excerpt from his profile on Ahmaud Arbery.
Mr. Jackson: “Ahmaud Marquez Arbery was more than a viral video. He was more than a hashtag or a name on a list of tragic victims. He was more than a headline, or an op-ed, or a news package, or the news cycle. He was more than a retweet or shared post. He, doubtless, was more than our likes, or emoji tears, or hearts, or praying hands. He was more than an RIP T-shirt or placard. He, for damn sure, was more than the latest reason for your liberal white friends’ ephemeral outrage. He was more than a rally or a march. He was more than a symbol, more than a movement, more than a cause. He was loved.” (16 min)
In this powerful essay, published hours before the verdict last week, Mr. Jackson argues that one conviction won’t change the justice system’s callousness toward Black life. He recounts the time police stormed his home, reflects on the fortitude of Mr. Arbery’s mother, and worries for the safety of his 15-year-old son. “BLACK LIVES MATTER. BLACK LIVES MATTER, we chant; we shout; we plead. Justice for __. Justice for __. Justice for __. They scream, WHITES LIVES. BLUE LIVES. GREAT AGAIN. Aver, ’no rights which the white man was bound to respect.’ ” (11 min)
Art by Nikkolas Smith. nikkolas.com
What Ahmaud Arbery’s Death Has Meant For The Place Where He Lived
When atrocities happen, they don’t just happen online. They happen in real life in real communities. In this touching profile of Glynn County, Georgia, where Mr. Arbery was murdered, you’ll meet the high school football coach who facilitates discussion groups with his players, the reverend fighting to topple the local Confederate monument, and the mother who leads young people in canvassing the neighborhood to promote voting rights. You’ll also meet 17-year-old Cameron Atkinson, who walks up and down the football field with Mr. Arbery’s jersey before every game. (25 min)
Ahmaud Arbery Will Not Be Erased
David Dennis Jr.: “With each passing month, you might hear Ahmaud’s name and squint and snap your fingers to recall which dead Black person he is. Is that the healthcare worker gunned down while asleep in their home? No, that was Breonna Taylor, whom Louisville police shot eight times on March 13. Was that the gospel singer? No, that was Adrian Medearis, an unarmed Black man who was pulled over in Houston for a suspected DUI and killed when police say he reached for a taser during a scuffle. No, he’s not the one who died after an officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. That’s George Floyd, the Minnesota man who appeared in another viral video three weeks after Arbery’s was released, sparking protests that set the country on fire.” (19 min)
+ Reader Annotations: Published two weeks ago and focusing on the topic of exhaustion, “Back To Normal?” was the most popular issue of The Highlighter since Issue #79 in February 2017. Loyal reader and educator Elizabeth said there’s “so much fatigue in schools” that it’s “infusing every interaction and decision.” VIP Steven, also an educator, wrote that the issue “felt on point this week for me” and created “powerful reflection.” Thank you for sharing! Loyal readers, if an article speaks to you, please let me know.
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