Happy Thursday, and welcome to this week’s edition of The Highlighter! I’m happy it’s May, my favorite month, and I hope you’re enjoying the sun, preparing for summer, and finding time to relax and read.
Loyal readers, today’s lead article is one of my favorites so far this year. It’s a quintessential Highlighter article. It’s about two shy girls in Texas who become best friends. It’s about a lot of other things, of course, like faith and family and tragedy, but friendship is at the center. I urge you to read it.
Also in today’s issue, I’ve included three other excellent articles — covering the controversy over school discipline, the resilience of homeless student-athletes, and the lasting effects of gentrification. Please enjoy!
Ninth grader Jaelyn had straw-blond hair and turquoise eyes, believed in God, and was new to Santa Fe High School, located in a suburb of Houston. Long homeschooled, she had told her parents that God had “put it on her heart” to branch out and meet new people. Eleventh grader Sabika, who had black hair and mahogany eyes, believed in Allah, and also was new to Santa Fe. An exchange student from Pakistan, she had told her parents that she wanted be like Malala Yousafzai and have an impact on the world. This is the story of Jaelyn and Sabika’s friendship, the hope of young people, and the power of human connection across difference. You’ll cry at the end, no doubt, but please don’t let that deter you from reading this extraordinary article, so plainly and beautifully written. (44 min)
+ After you finish crying, or even during, feel free to share your thoughts.
Since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, adults in Parkland have clashed on how best to keep their children safe. The debate has shifted from the role of guns to whether restorative discipline programs, like PROMISE, have allowed dangerous children to slip through the cracks. Critics of Superintendent Robert Runciesay it’s time to return to zero tolerance policies, which became popular after Columbine. (52 min)
Increasing in number by 70% over the last decade, homeless students make up the fastest-growing group in our nation’s public schools. Many of the 1.36 million homeless youth are athletes. This article explains how participating in sports (in particular, having a strong relationship with a coach) helps young people survive everyday challenges. You’ll be reminded, too, that a seemingly strong, stable home life can shift “in the blink of an eye.” (26 min)
+ For a less-rosy look at the impact of sports on homeless youth, read this piece from Issue #104.
Most articles on gentrification focus on tragic stories of displacement. This piece leads with data. Since 2000, across the country, white people, with incomes on average twice as high as their neighbors, have bought homes in historically Black neighborhoods, changing the market and the landscape. This means that, for the most part, if you’re white, living in a Black neighborhood means you’re a gentrifier. There’s no other way to explain it. Would it be better if we all just stayed segregated? (13 min)
+ Reader Annotations: Last week’s lead article on Fixer Upper’s “restoration” of Waco elicited strong emotional responses. VIP reader Michele, who is from Texas, wants her fellow readers to know the following:
Chip Gaines went to my high school. I didn’t know him.
Waco is a bad town. I always say, about moving to another town, “There’s something good about every place — except Waco.”
It’s incredible to me how many different ways racism can look. I recognize I’m late to seeing it, but now that I do, I’m going to name it as often and publicly as I can. My campaign slogan for 2025: See the shit, name the shit.
The apocalypse is nigh. This article only confirms that. But shiplap! (My house in Austin had shiplap.)
Thank you, Michele, for sharing your sentiments! I encourage you all to hit reply and let me know what you think.
There are no more articles left. Sorry about that. But thank you for reading this week’s issue of The Highlighter. Hit reply or use the thumbs below to tell me what you thought. Also, let’s welcome this week’s five new subscribers: Judith, Maddie, Brittany, Shula, and Mego. Thank you for trying out the newsletter. Hope it’s a good match!
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