Iserotope Extras - Issue #49
This week in Extras, begin with Jia Toletino’s smart and sassy reflection on affirmative action, white privilege, and Fisher v. University of Texas. Then move to filmmaker Dawn Porter (my new hero), who highlights the courageous women and men fighting to protect reproductive rights in the South. After a photography break, get nerdy on journalism with an excellent profile of the Washington Post. Then finish this issue off by learning how ordinary citizens and wealthy individuals have sometimes teamed up to shape our most important Supreme Court decisions on civil rights.
All the Greedy Young Abigail Fishers and Me
Abigail Fisher lost her anti-affirmative action case last month at the Supreme Court. This essay is by a woman who regrets helping white high school students like Ms. Fisher on their personal essays so that they can get admitted into the University of Texas at the expense of similarly qualified students of color. I’m particularly frustrated that our conversation on affirmative action has not moved one bit for 20+ years. Conservatives, like Chief Justice John Roberts, continue to believe in a “color-blind Constitution” and incorrectly invoke the 14th Amendment as basis for their claim. I tend to agree with Justice Warren Burger when he wrote in 1971: “In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way.” (Just because there can’t be an Extras without Nikole Hannah-Jones, here’s her analysis of the case back in 2013.)
Abortion providers in places like Texas are heroically courageous
The Supreme Court last month invalidated state laws that made abortions harder to get, upholding the “undue burden” test that Planned Parenthood v. Casey established in 1992. After you read this article, consider watching Dawn Porter’s documentary, Trapped, reading Dr. Willie Parker’s op-ed about why he performs abortions, and listening to the Death, Sex, and Money podcast’s episode on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Brooklyn. It has become clear to me, whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, that the movement against abortion is largely one waged by white men telling Black women what’s good for them.
An orchid from the summer.
The Good News at Trump’s Least-Favorite Paper
I like journalism; I like the news. A few years ago, newspapers and news magazines were dead. Then, they became “media companies,” and a few, like The Atlantic, have prospered. This article is about the Washington Post, and how, under the editorship of Marty Baron (see Spotlight) and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, it’s flourishing without becoming a Gawker.
I was lukewarm at first on More Perfect, Radiolab’s new podcast about the Supreme Court, until this episode, which focuses on plaintiffs in civil rights “test cases,” who may want nothing to do with becoming famous. I was fascinated by the backstories of Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which banned sodomy laws, and Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which legitimized segregation. Sometimes, civil rights gains are heavily orchestrated.
You did it! Thanks for checking out this week’s Extras. Email me with your thoughts, and share this issue with your friends! Also, I’m encouraging you one more time to join the Forum (and introduce yourself!) so we can build this community and talk about one article per week. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am!
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