In a piece that will top “best of” lists in 2023, journalist Jenisha Watts unravels a tangled family history to understand how her mother Trina Renee Watts became addicted to drugs, often leaving Jenisha and her four siblings alone when she left to get high.

My deficiencies haunted me: my childhood, my accent, my lack of knowledge. Silly things, like the fact that I’d never seen the movies that well-off Black kids had all watched: Coming to America, Harlem Nights. I asked “Where you at?” instead of “Where are you?” I talked quietly because I was never certain I was saying the words correctly. When I said “picture,” people heard “pitcher.” Eventually, I trained myself to always say “photo.” I even found an acting coach online who agreed to give me voice lessons to try to change my accent, and we practiced on monologues in her studio.