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#394: Amor Eterno
Also: Come join us at Highlighter Happy Hour in Oakland on June 1
I still remember the school shooting in 1989 at an elementary school in Stockton. It is because my Aunt Bernice was a teacher there. She survived, but five of her students did not. It was one of the first school shootings in our country.
I also remember the Columbine shooting in 1999. I was in my second year of teaching. My students wanted to talk about it, to make sense of the horror. I don’t remember saying anything too helpful. But I do remember thinking the tragedy was an anomaly.
Now there are so many mass shootings happening so often, one after another, that we have to rely on Internet databases to keep track of them. Certainly we don’t have the brain or heart space to process them all. It’s easier to avoid them and go about our day. It’s easier to stay numb and desensitized. This certainly has happened to me.
But every once in a while, there’s an article about gun violence that sticks out and demands my attention. “Amor Eterno,” which leads this week’s issue, is one such article. It’s about Kimberly Mata-Rubio, who lost her 10-year-old daughter Lexi last year in Uvalde. It won’t be easy to read. It won’t be easy to finish. But I hope you’ll read it. If you’re moved, I hope you’ll share it.
💬 HIGHLIGHTER HAPPY HOUR: You’re invited to HHH #20 at Room 389 in Oakland on Thursday, June 1, beginning at 5:30 pm. There are five free tickets left. HHH is a joyous informal gathering of kind, thoughtful members of our reading community. You’re one of them, so it’d be great to see you there. Don’t worry: There isn’t a quiz about whether you’ve read all the articles. Plus there are prizes galore.
1️⃣ Amor Eterno
Before her daughter Lexi was killed last year in Uvalde, Kimberly Mata-Rubio was a shy, soft-spoken woman who took history classes at the local university and worked part-time at the local newspaper. She preferred staying in the background.
No more. Not after the massacre. Not after Texas lawmakers offered thoughts and prayers, but no laws. Not after Senator Ted Cruz said guns weren’t the issue. No, Ms. Mata-Rubio will not rest until there is a ban on all assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. “I’ll fight until I have nothing left to give,” she says.
This is not an easy story to read. And I’m sure it wasn’t an easy story to write. But in the hands of award-winning feature writer Skip Hollandsworth, not a stranger to writing about tragedy, it’s a story that breaks through our wish to stay distant.
“When 19 children and 2 teachers are killed in a town of 15,000,” he writes, “the math works like this: You either loved one of the victims or you know someone who loved one of the victims — you know an aunt, a cousin, a close family friend. You know someone who tucked them into bed the night before, who argued with them about brushing their teeth, who told them to keep it down, who read them a story or maybe a poem and said goodnight, and then good morning, and then goodbye.”
➡️ Read the article | Texas Monthly | 29 minutes
Did you learn about the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 in school? I certainly didn’t — not in my AP U.S. History class when I was a junior in high school, and not even at UC Berkeley, where I majored in history. The first time I heard about it, in 2004, I was preparing to teach American history to my students in San Francisco. It’s unconscionable, but it’s also no surprise. In this well-written account, Tim Madigan clearly and unflinchingly recounts what happened the morning of June 1, 1921, when white terrorists destroyed the the Greenwood district of Tulsa, known then as the “Negro Wall Street of America.” The white mob killed 300 Black people and left another 10,000 Black people homeless. It burned 1,100 homes and flattened 35 square blocks of restaurants, drugstores, grocery stores, churches, the hospital, the public library, and the school. Especially powerful are Mr. Madigan’s interviews with survivors of the massacre, like Eldoris McCondichie, who was 9 years old.
➡️ Read the article | Smithsonian Magazine | 31 minutes
Author of the best-selling novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie is now trying to reconstruct his career after apologizing for sexually harassing women in 2018. Now his work is diminished, but his writing is still provocative to read. In this essay, Mr. Alexie takes issue with the term BIPOC, arguing that progressives (who likely aren’t Native Americans) have unwittingly homogenized the diversity of American Indians in an effort to combat white supremacy.
I understand that the “I” in BIPOC is meant to convey pride and solidarity. And I agree with that mission. That mission is essential. But I think that “indigenous,” as politically employed, has instead become a word that restricts the meaning of what it is to be an Indian. I think it has created a national and international illusion that that only proper way to be an Indian, or to be an Indian at all, is to be an Indian who is a leftist political activist.
➡️ Read the article | Sherman Alexie: A Literary Newsletter | 10 minutes
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