I had a solid year, reporting wise. But, I have struggled seeing much of my work as "good" since I write about some awful things. This list is my attempt to find the silver lining in the fact that at least somebody wrote about these things. (Fwiw, I made sure to include some good stuff too!)
My reporting on air pollution in Orlando is one of the best pieces I’ve written this year but also one of the saddest. While I am glad that I was able to shed light on what was going on in Parramore — a historically black neighborhood that has been subjugated to environmental racism for decades — a source passed away from breathing-related health issues before we published. That shit broke my heart.
(Photo credit: David Lohr/Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)
I went to dinner with Rose Gunter, the niece of Recy Taylor, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman and five other women. I was enthralled by how little Gunter had to say throughout our conversations about President Donald Trump, racism, sexism and violence against women. When I asked her for her thoughts on the topics at hand, she simply shrugged and told me she didn’t have anything to say. So I wrote about how, sometimes, a black woman's silence is the loudest statement she can make. (Have you’ve ever had a black woman be so pissed at you that she had nothing to say? That silence will shake you to your core.)
(Photo Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)
I interviewed Minnijean Brown Trickey, a member of the Little Rock 9, about the "paid agitator" smear thrown at survivors of the Parkland shooting. The idea that someone is being paid to disrupt the status quo dates back at least to Reconstruction when formerly enslaved Africans testified about their experiences in front of Congress. They were accused of lying and being paid to do so. But the Republicans were just paying for their travel expenses since many couldn’t afford to travel to Washington. Below is a newspaper clipping where the smear was thrown at Elizabeth Eckford, another member of the Little Rock 9.
(Photo Credit: Screenshot/Newspapers.com)
Here's a good thing: Taryn Finley and I launched "Run That Back," our series about black television, music, film and culture. We’ve been working on advancing the series from a Slack chat into something greater and I'm excited to see what 2019 has in store for us! My favorite chat is the one we did for the Teddy Perkins episode of “Atlanta.”
(Photo Credit: FX Networks)
Another good thing: I put my cape on for Kendrick Lamar after he won a Pulitzer for “DAMN.” Because Lamar isn’t “bound to regressive notions of journalistic objectivity, [his] work achieves something most reporters can’t: It speaks from the prerogative of black communities facing oppression and directly attacks the institutions responsible for their pain.” And that is honestly what all journalism should aspire to do.
(Photo Credit: Robyn Beck via Getty Images)
After Rashon Nelson & Donte Robinson were profiled in a Philly Starbucks, I shared a similar story in a Twitter thread. When I was 8-years-old, I was followed in a store by a white clerk. I hadn’t noticed but my great-grandmother did. She dragged me out of the store and explained to me that my blackness had consequences beyond my control. This experience forever shaped how I conduct myself in retail spaces. Readers had similar stories. I published them.
(Photo Credit: Lorenzo Bevilaqua via Getty Images)
I interviewed David Pilgrim about the historical references in Childish Gambino's viral “This Is America” video. Pilgrim called the video a “harsh indictment of indifference,” which is stunningly on the nose. We chatted about the video’s nods to Thomas Rice, the original Jim Crow, allusions to gun and police violence against black Americans and more.
(Photo Credit: Screenshot/Youtube via Childish Gambino)
I said goodbye to Kanye West and his music. This piece required a great deal of self-reflection. I had to address the many ways in which I had let Kanye slide so that I could remain an avid fan. This is my favorite piece from 2018. It pushed me to trust my analysis and to stop worrying about potential backlash to a story. That lesson came just in time, too, because the Ye stans raked me over the coals for this one.
(Photo Credit: Mark Metcalfe via Getty Images)
I wrote about Gucci Mane's Instagram and the joy it brings into my life. His carefully curated feed is a celebration of how far he's come — and if you know anything about Guwop, you know that he’s come further than most. His glow up is truly unmatched. He spent three years in an Indiana federal penitentiary for illegally possessing a firearm. He walked out drug-free and 50 pounds lighter with a bright white smile where his signature mouth full of golds once were. It’s inspiring.
(Photo Credit: Paras Griffin via Getty Images)
I profiled Andrew Gillum, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor of Florida. I saw his campaign as an exercise in recasting populism in a black idiom. He, in many ways, reminded me of the black folks I had grown up around. And, as a black southerner who was also raised by a grandparent, it wasn’t difficult for me to grasp his politics:
During my day following him around Tallahassee, I realized something about Gillum. He is black black. He is openly and proudly black in a way rarely seen in politics, which tend to prefer a blackness that’s been modulated by white institutions. He grew up poor in South Miami-Dade County. He has multiple family members who have cycled through the criminal justice system. He attended a historically black university. He’s black in the big things and the small ones. At a Congressional Black Caucus Week forum in September, I noticed him pointing at his interlocutor and popping his hand back — black semaphore for “I heard what you said, and I agree.” He frequently employs African-American vernacular in a natural way. It’s not an empty attempt to connect with black voters who aren’t black like he is. It’s just how he talks. And while blackness is by no means a monolith, Gillum represents a kind of blackness that is commonplace in black life and basically nonexistent in high-level American politics.
(Photo Credit: Willie J. Allen Jr. For HuffPost)