#348: ‘Four Years Being Seen As Family’
Hi loyal readers! Thank you for being here. There’s plenty of doom out in the world right now – and plenty of pieces detailing that doom. If you’ve been a subscriber for any length of time, you know that I don’t shy away from doomsday articles. But this week – the beginning of a one-month break between jobs – I was in the mood for something different.
Today’s issue explores the theme of belonging from three perspectives. The lead article charts the rise of Black colleges and universities as joyful, safe, and transformative alternatives to predominantly white elite institutions. The second piece examines the controversial claims of Landmark Forum, which promises its participants breakthrough personal growth in just one three-day workshop. And the third article investigates whether belonging to a fantasy sports league is the answer to men’s inability to forge meaningful relationships. (Answer: No.) Please enjoy!
+ Program Note: After seven great years, I’m switching things up a bit. Beginning with Issue #350 on June 30, I’ll be merging The Highlighter with Article Club, my other reading-related newsletter. I’ll share more next week about why I’m excited about this shift, but for now, here’s a quick summary of what to expect:
You don’t have to do anything
You’ll keep getting issues every Thursday at 9:10 am
There will be new features that I think you’ll like
Please let me know if you have questions. Thank you and I hope you have a great weekend coming up.
Erica L. Green: “The nation’s H.B.C.U.s have experienced a boom. From 2018 to 2021, applications for a cross section of Black schools increased nearly 30 percent, according to the Common App, a platform for students to submit one application to multiple colleges, outpacing the increases of many other schools. Submissions using the Common Black College Application, solely for H.B.C.U.s., are projected to reach 40,000 this year, quadruple the total in 2016. And enrollment has soared at some of the schools, even as it declined nationally.
“ ‘College is the time when you’re trying to figure out who you are,’ said SeKai Parker, who chose Spelman over Yale. ‘It’s impossible to figure that out in a space where you not only feel like you have to assimilate to fit into that space, when they didn’t invite you there or they tolerate you there, but you have to prove that your existence has value.’ ” (21 min)
+ Big thanks to VIP Sivan for sending this article my way. Want to nominate an article or podcast? Please do!
This month at Article Club, we’re discussing “The Roe Baby,” by Joshua Prager. Please join us: hltr.co/roe1. Here’s an interview with Shelley Thornton, the daughter of Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe.
I’m always looking for ways to improve my life. That is why I got close to attending a Landmark Forum event years ago when a good friend assured me that the experience would lead to transformative personal growth. Good thing I declined. This outstanding podcast (especially Parts 1 and 3) describes the allure (and cultiness) of Landmark, its questionable history (as an outgrowth of est), its problematic premise (that we’re 100% in charge of our destinies), and its enduring impact in corporate culture and discourse. Even if you’re not a habitual podcast listener, try this one, you’ll like it (49 min).
+ Big thanks to VIP Jessica for the referral.
In seventh grade I convinced (i.e., forced) my friends to join a fantasy baseball league with me. (I was in charge of the statistics, and yes, there was a weekly newsletter. Girls weren’t allowed.) The experience led to years of mirth – or at least we thought so, being teenage boys. But this thoughtful piece by Zak Cheney-Rice got me thinking: Did I found the league as a last-bastion effort to maintain the childhood friendships threatened by the entropic forces of middle school? Surely Mr. Cheney-Rice would agree with my analysis, except in this well-written piece, he cares more about whether straight men in their 30s can be friends (particularly if they have lives), or if fantasy sports serve as a crutch for intimacy. (19 min)
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