The writer on his experience raising awareness about street children:
"I recall a bleeding boy of only three or four in a doorway in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. He’d been beaten by a group of older children and was hunched over in the fetal position. His clenched fist clutched a hunk of bread that he had valiantly refused to surrender to his assailants: dry bread saturated with blood. Then a girl in Morocco, on the edge of Zagora and with the desert behind her, who put down the tray of food she was selling and showed me how she could write her name. A billowy sleeve concealed her hand as she traced into the dirt the letters of the only word she could spell. It was as if she’d conjured it from some hidden compartment. And in Bucharest, Romania, I watched a boy in a sagging, buttonless overcoat upturn the bins outside McDonald’s. With expert skill, he flicked through the rubbish, prising open boxes, rooting out unfinished food. He chucked the remains of burgers over a wall to some waiting friends. Then — like a champion smoker attempting to accommodate 50 cigarettes at once — he rammed as many chips as he could into his mouth and sucked on them."
PUBLISHED: May 16, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4287 words)
The Korean-born writer wrestles with her relationship with her mom—and how to tell her how she feels:
"I then did what any normal kid would do and yelled and yelled about how embarrassing it was to have her at school with me during lunch of all times. She presented me with a sack of cheeseburgers that I could give out to my friends. I refused the damp bag and screeched about how it was so cheap that she didn’t spring for bright red boxes with toys for them as well. I made her take the burgers back with her. If I were an actress and had to think of something sad to make me cry in a scene, I would think about this moment. This and the time I was 13 when I kicked my mom across a room and ran away for two days because she tried to ground me — for breaking curfew after my friend Jacinta stole money from her dying grandmother so we could rent out a nightclub and write the names of those blackballed on the sign outside. For the record: I don’t know why people have kids."
PUBLISHED: April 26, 2013
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2316 words)
On the evolution of human emotions:
"Emotional flexibility means that we could spread our feelings around promiscuously, extending them to our fellow humans in general and sustaining loyalties over great expanses of time. By comparison, other animals seem strictly concerned with specific threats and benefactors. We might have evolved our emotional plasticity in part because our brains keep developing for so long after our birth, and so the social environment constitutes a huge part of our mental and emotional formation. Our emotional systems had to be fluid, flexible, and general; they couldn’t just fasten on one animal or action pattern. But these stretchable emotions probably helped our social evolution as much as language and symbol manipulation ever did."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 6, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4383 words)
A look at the Ugandan gay rights movement and how it received international attention:
"But it was the funeral, not the murder itself, that confirmed Kato’s transformation from a beloved friend to a hero of gay liberation, Longjones says. Uganda’s gay community converged in Kato’s home village for the ceremony — only to find that the local pastor Thomas Musoke wanted to use his death as an opportunity to berate his survivors. ‘After everyone had given speeches, this guy comes up and says, “I knew David and talked with David. And he cannot repent anymore. But you people can, and you must. And we pray that his whole clique perishes.” That is where problems started, and we could not tolerate this man anymore.’
"‘Do you know what it means when you lose someone you love so much, someone you see as a mentor?’ Longjones asked. ‘You just… get tired. You get fed up. And you don’t care what consequences come your way. What happened at the funeral just made everyone get sick and tired.’
"Kato’s death made international news, and served as confirmation of Uganda’s reputation for gay-hatred. Much of the Western diplomatic corps attended the funeral and watched appalled when the pastor called for the death of Kato’s mourning friends. And by turning the mentor into a martyr, it moved the Ugandan gay rights struggle into its next phase."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 7, 2012
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5845 words)