Newsletter #188: White Tears


Happy Thursday, loyal readers, and welcome to The Highlighter! This week’s issue promises more than an hour’s worth of excellent reading, so feel free to take the rest of the day off. Certainly, your boss will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to push your thinking and expand your empathy. (Please don’t get fired.)

I’m eager for you to read today’s lead article, which focuses on how white people dominate spaces meant to confront white supremacy. Sometimes that domination manifests as defensiveness. Other times, it’s (micro)aggression. Or else it’s tears. I predict the piece will spur a range of emotions, so if you want to share your thoughts, or talk more, please reach out.

Also in this week’s issue, dive deeply into the history of San Francisco’s housing crisis, and then enjoy two articles about how three different generations are connecting, communicating, and negotiating the challenges of online life. Happy reading!

Confronting Racism Is Not About the Needs and Feelings of White People

Highlighter favorite Ijeoma Oluo is back, this time sharing her painful experiences leading anti-racism workshops. Often, conversations on racial equity center white voices, white tears, and white fragility — thereby attacking the dignity of people of color. Ms. Oluo writes, “The white attendees decide for themselves what will be discussed, what they will hear, what they will learn. And it is their space. All spaces are.” (6 min)

+ Want to read more articles by Ms. Uluo? Try these: #89#97#128#171.

How San Francisco Planned Its Housing Crisis To Protect Wealthy Homeowners

You know you have a problem when Ayesha Curry says San Francisco is too expensive. Even if you live outside the Bay Area, you’ll want to read this comprehensive history of San Francisco’s exclusionary zoning laws that have discriminated against people of color and the poor. It’s all here: laundry ordinancesredlininglocal control, height limits, overpasses, and Proposition 13. (36 min)

Online And Fed On Lies: How An Aging Population Will Reshape The Internet

It’s inevitable: As we get older, we get slower. Except technology’s pace keeps quickening. This problem worsens because our society isolates the elderly, leaving Americans over 65 challenged by technology and therefore susceptible to hyperpartisan rhetoric. Older people believe and share fake news seven times more often than younger people. Plus, they vote at a much higher rate. (16 min)

If You’re Still Texting, Then You’re Old. After All, Spontaneous FaceTiming Is In.

Millennials are burned out and financially screwed. Now they’re catching flak from Gen Z. The issue? Texting. The preferred communication method of millennials, texting is passé, according to Gen Z. To keep up with the times, the solution is the spontaneous FaceTime. One college student said, “Getting a FaceTime allows me to connect deeper with my friends. Just being able to see their face — it’s a nice surprise.” (5 min)

+ Reader Annotations: Several of you appreciated last week’s article on truancy. VIP reader Vanessa shared how her views on Kamala Harris’s truancy policy have changed over time:

I was in law school when Kamala Harris was district attorney in San Francisco, and she came to talk at our school about her truancy program. At the time, having had no experience in public K-12 schools, I was enamored of her.

Now that I’ve spent the last eight years as a public school educator, I mostly hate the truancy law because I’ve gotten to know more intimately the circumstances of families with chronically truant students, and I’ve seen the ways schools push out Black and brown kids and make them feel unwelcome and unwanted in a million ways, large and small.

Punitive measures don’t change kids’ behaviors for good. Kids come to school when they are getting something positive out of it. And if they don’t right now feel like they can learn, we need to make them feel they’re getting a safe place where they are lived, at the very least.

We need true community schools that offer family supports for the systemic issues keeping kids out of schools. We need to support and teach kids/families/teachers to fight for systemic change, and we need to build a culture in which students and their families feel a deep sense of belonging.

In addition, “The Day the Dinosaurs Died” sparked intrigue from loyal reader Phoebe, herself a scientist:

My scientist alarm bells were going off as I was reading the article: Why am I reading about this unpublished work in the New Yorker and not in a peer-reviewed magazine? Why does this DePalma guy not have a PhD yet, and why did he violate a cardinal rule in science: that you do not publicize your work until after your peer reviewed work is published? The site does seem remarkable, but the sociology of all of this is also fascinating.

Thank you for your kind, thoughtful comments, Vanessa andPhoebe! Loyal readers, I invite you to share your thoughts (whether to me privately or to the wider reading community). You can email me, leave a voice message, or write a kind word.

Thank you for reading this week’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 three new subscribers, Caleb, Max, Melissa. Thank you for trying out the newsletter. Hope it’s a good match!

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On the other hand, if this newsletter doesn’t spark joy, please unsubscribe. See you next Thursday at 9:10 am!