Newsletter #173: The Best Articles of the Year


Today’s issue marks the end of the third year of The Highlighter. We’ve built a robust community of 500+ avid readers who care deeply about race, education, and culture. Thank you for your readership, whether this is your first issue or if you started with Issue #1. (Note: Please don’t look at Issue #1. 😬)

This year’s 50 issues featured more than 200 excellent articles on important topics by talented writers. How to choose the best ones? You know it’s a tough contest when Jia TolentinoMichael HobbesSara Mosle, and Roxane Gay don’t make it past the semifinals.

There was no magic to my process — except for tons of open browser tabs, various scribbles in my composition notebook, and many hours of re-reading and rumination. In the end, I’m really happy with the three winners. Please enjoy them! If you’re moved, kindly hit reply and share with me your thoughts.

See you in the New Year. I’m taking a couple weeks off!

The 79 Bus

Brian Broome rides the 79 Bus every night after work back to his home in the East Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh. East Hills is a low-income area, and though Mr. Broome is Black and poor, too, he looks down on his neighbors, calling them pathetic and lazy. He’s not like them, he says. Mr. Broome’s writing is raw and tough to read. Right when you’re ready to give up — angry at Mr. Broome, or angry at yourself for being angry — this article takes a big turn, and Mr. Broome’s judgment transforms into epiphany. Once he realizes that “the white people are coming,” and that gentrification has been the plan all along, everything changes. (32 min) (Issue #143)

The Lottery Hackers

Jerry and Marge Selbee are delightful retirees from down-home Michigan who have worked hard every day their whole lives to put their six kids through college. Now they’re ready to game the lottery and win millions of dollars. If you’ve ever dreamed up money-making schemes, or if you like mathematical thrillers pitting grandparents against MIT students, this one’s for you. This is a big-hearted, delightful article about some smart, wily elders. Thank you to loyal subscriber Jessica for recommending it. (47 min) (Issue #133)

The Theater of Forgiveness

After Dylann Roof killed 12 Black churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015, members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church forgave him. President Obama sang “Amazing Grace.” The media marveled at the victims’ families’ acts of absolution, and white America sighed with relief. For Hafizah Geter, this sequence of events was an act of theater. Ever since slavery, when white people commit violence against Black people, there is a compulsion, rooted in Christianity, for Black people to forgive. The only other option, Ms. Geter argues, is rage, which white society does not tolerate — unless, of course, that rage turns inward, destroying the Black family, the Black body. (37 min) (Issue #168)   

Readers’ Choice Awards: In addition to my favorites, you chose some great articles, too. Here are the three that loyal subscribers read the most. How many of these have you read?

The Opportunity Myth: What Students Can Show Us About How School Is Letting Them Down — And How to Fix It (55 min) (#163)

Nothing On This Page Is Real: How Lies Become Truth In Online America (15 min) (#171)

How The Startup Mentality Failed Kids in San Francisco: A Profile of Willie Brown Middle School (21 min) (#150)

That’s it for 2018! (Is this really the end?) Before signing off, I’d like to thank you one more time for subscribing to my newsletter and reading it Thursday after Thursday. I value and appreciate your readership. As always, please hit reply or use the thumbs below to tell me what you thought. Also, let’s welcome this week’s 17 new subscribers: Keith, Kermit, Juliet, Justin, Patrick, Honis, Michael, Hamilton, Insta, Matt, Amber, Mathias, Joe, Don, Schatz, Chris, and J. I’m really happy you’re here.

If you value The Highlighter, please forward this issue to a friend, urge them to subscribe, or become a member. On the other hand, if you don’t love getting this newsletter, please unsubscribe. I’ll see you back here in 2019. Have a great holiday season!