Newsletter #176: The Weight I Carry

Happy Thursday, loyal readers, and welcome! Last week’s Highlighter was the most popular issue ever. Thank you for reading the articles, sending me your thoughts, submitting pet photos, and suggesting topics to follow. This reading community is a strong one!

This week’s issue includes articles on spirituality, Afrocentric schools, and burnout. They’re all excellent. But if you have time to read just one, I recommend “The Weight I Carry,” which explores the turmoil of daily life of a 460-pound man.

+ Pop-Up Article Club: 3 slots left! Want to read and discuss a great article in person with other Highlighter subscribers? Eight of us will gather on Feb. 10, 2-4 pm, at The Highlighter Retreat Center in Oakland. Let me know if you’re interested in signing up or if you have questions about this new endeavor!

The Weight I Carry

Tommy Tomlinson weighs 460 pounds. He writes, “I’m the biggest human being most people who know me have ever met, or ever will.” Tommy gets scared riding the subway, fearing a sudden jolt will cause him to fall on top of another passenger. He arrives at restaurants early so he can scope out seats that will handle his weight. The veins in his legs can’t push blood back to his heart. Now 50 years old, Tommy has never learned to swim or hiked a mountain. “I’ve missed out on so many adventures, so many good times, because I was too fat to try.” (22 min)

Share your story. No matter our weight, many of us have felt shame about our bodies. What are you doing to approach your body with greater love and acceptance? Email meleave a message, or join our WhatsApp chat.

Check out more articles on dieting, body positivity, and fat shaming.  

Land Not Theirs: Confronting Religion’s Role in Oppressing Black Women

While visiting over holiday break, college student Madison Davis realizes that her family’s spiritual beliefs no longer match her own. Though she grew up in the Black Church and acknowledges its crucial role in the Black community, Ms. Davis abhors how Christianity served to subjugate Black people and how the Bible was used to defend slavery. Now Ms. Davis finds herself exploring the occult, focusing on meditation in order to create magic. (28 min)

‘I Love My Skin!’ Why Black Parents Are Turning to Afrocentric Schools

Nikole Hannah-Jones (#125) and Gary Orfield and many other leading thinkers believe that integrating schools is the only way to achieve equitable outcomes for students across race. But not all Black parents feel this way. This article explains the rise in popularity of Afrocentric schools in New York City. “I love myself,” one student said. “I love my hair, I love my skin!” (9 min)

This Is What Black Burnout Feels Like

Last week’s lead article on millennial burnout was extremely popular and challenged readers past pat, stereotypical notions of the generation. But some of you found author Anne Helen Petersen (white, middle-class) out of touch. Here’s Tiana Clark’sresponse: “No matter the movement or era, being burned out has been the steady state of black people in this country for hundreds of years.” (10 min)

Podcast Update: When I featured “79” as one of last year’s best three articles (see #173), naturally I wanted to speak to author Brian Broome. Good news: He’s on the latest episode of The Highlighter Podcast! In the interview, Brian talks about how he became a writer in rehab, how the first piece of writing he submitted got published, and how “79” began as a rant against white supremacy. We also explore the effects of capitalism and white supremacy on Black people and the perils of respectability politics. Please take a listen!

Thank you for reading today’s issue of The Highlighter! Please hit reply or use the thumbs below to tell me what you thought. Also, let’s welcome this week’s 15 new subscribers: Gladys, Jason, Jesse, Alisa, Minnie, Peter and 9 others. If you like The Highlighter, the best thing you can do is to encourage a friend to subscribe. You can forward them this issue, send them this link, or urge them in person. If that’s too much, leave a kind word! Or if you want to do more, become a VIP member! If you don’t think this newsletter is for you anymore, please unsubscribe. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am!