Necessary and audacious, Mychal Denzel Smith’s assured debut, Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, fuses memoir and cultural criticism to ponder an often-neglected question: How did you learn to be a black man? The way he scrutinizes the origin of his beliefs about black identity and masculinity is revelatory--and instructive. He mines his personal history as an Obama-era black millennial in the service of a larger vision: social transformation through personal awakening. As he . . .
Lessons in Leadership
Read the posts below for musings on women and leadership from the minutia of managing our own to-do lists to the big picture of electrifying people and resources in the service of grandest visions.
A recent visit to Chicago for BookExpo America transported me back to 2005, when I visited the offices of historic black newspaper The Chicago Defender. At the time, I was a grad student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, visiting to interview then-editor Roland Martin about his plans for reviving the paper at its 100th anniversary. Martin peered over a sleek silver laptop, surrounded by books and papers, and opined in an authoritative staccato about newspaper . . .
I appreciated the opportunity to speak at Breakthrough Austin’s Beat the Odds Benefit. I shared my newcomer’s perspective on the organization and made a case for helping it close the gap between the Austin Dream and the Austin reality of extreme segregation. It’s a tough job, but I’m optimistic that the city has the resources to do it. Here’s the speech: My family and I moved here in May--with 3,000 other folks. We’re part of the influx of people primed to relocate by all of the Best . . .
I had the honor of participating in a lively discussion on HuffPost Live recently about an outcry over the misrepresentation of slavery in a Texas textbook. The conversation in this case centered around a single misleading caption in a high school geography text, but the issue is much more widespread. So many wonderful points were made by host Nancy Redd and my fellow panelists Roni Dean-Burren and Mark Anthony Neal that I wanted to share the full text of our discussion in addition to the . . .
It’s hard for domestic violence victims to see a path to safety, let alone travel it. They have to survive the violence itself, overcome the guilt, shame and alienation it causes, and risk death or injury to escape. They have to secure shelter, food and clothing and navigate a mire of legal proceedings to distance themselves from their abusers. Often with few resources and little hope. When we think of someone escaping abuse, the red tape of protective orders, divorce, custody, name changes . . .
Sarah Scarbrough exudes passion and pragmatism. She’s internal program director for the Richmond City Justice Center in Virginia (formerly the Richmond City Jail), and she’s serious about giving offenders another chance. To help these most disadvantaged, dismissed members of our society, Scarbrough takes a holistic approach in partnership with other agencies and the community at large. I saw Scarbrough in action in February, when I participated in an event designed to help volunteers and . . .
I was reading Laura Vanderkam’s “I Know How She Does It” when news broke of the racist killing of nine churchgoers in South Carolina. At first, it felt meaningless to be mining the book for time-saving strategies and productivity tips as the nation (or some of it anyway) went into mourning. It felt absurd to read a self-help book when I could be toppling confederate monuments or lobbying for gun control. Yet I kept turning the pages. And I realized that in the face of senseless violence, . . .
A defining moment in Elizabeth Warren’s life was watching her 50-year-old mother wrestle herself into a worn black dress typically reserved for funerals and head out for her first job interview. The family was in dire financial straits after Warren’s father suffered a debilitating heart attack and her mom wasn’t going to lose their house without a fight. “The dress was too tight—way too tight,” Warren writes in “A Fighting Chance.” “It pulled and puckered. I thought it might explode if she . . .
Sometimes the best thing an emergency room doctor can give a kid is a book. In a world where low-income children hear 30 million fewer words than more affluent peers, literacy’s the true life-saver. Sutures and IVs can do only so much to address the aftermath of poverty—violence, drugs and abuse—that accounts for so many ER visits. Just ask Dr. Robin Foster, chief of pediatric emergency services at VCU Medical Center, who says she makes as much impact with social engagement as . . .
Months ago, I interviewed Katie Meyler, founder of a nonprofit devoted to getting girls off the street and into school in Liberia. I was so impressed by her story, and the magnitude of her efforts to serve destitute girls, that I held onto my notes, intending to write a long feature about her. The former education reporter in me wanted to collect more data, visit the school, interview students, and see for myself the impact this one passionate woman makes. In short, I wanted to write . . .