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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Central American migrants heading in a caravan to the US- cross the Suchiate River from Tecun Uman, Guatemala, to Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas State, Mexico, on January 23, 2020. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Abrahm Lustgarten, Michele Harper, Laura Paskus, Samiya Bashir, and Raven Leilani.

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1. Where Will Everyone Go?

Abrahm Lustgarten | ProPublica | July 23, 2020 | 38 minutes (9,536 words)

As temperatures and sea levels rise, populations flee from regions that are no longer livable, and the United States and other nations choose to build walls and keep migrants out, where will the world’s climate refugees go?

2. The Police Tried to Make Me Medically Examine a Man Against His Will

Michele Harper | Zora | July 6, 2020 | 18 minutes (4,611 words)

On racism in medicine, body autonomy, and one Black doctor’s experience in the ER.

3. Memory of a River

Laura Paskus | Santa Fe Reporter | July 13, 2020 | 9 minutes (2,360 words)

The adorable eucalyptus-eaters are on the front lines of research for a chlamydia vaccine.

4. Letter from Exile

Samiya Bashir | LitHub | July 23, 2020 | 7 minutes (1,809 words)

“In another hot year, we fail the Rio Grande.”

5. The Void Witch

Raven Leilani | Aquifer: The Florida Review Online | June 10, 2020 | 17 minutes (4,488 words)

“She was in pursuit of what all black girls were supposed to be born with—a jovial, ironclad self-esteem, a sense of rhythm, and a witchy finesse with jojoba and coconut oils. She was in pursuit of that inalienable right to say whether or not someone was, in fact, down.”

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

(Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Jane Mayer, Patricia Lockwood, Rachel E. Gross, Ann Babe, and Theresa Okokon.

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1. How Trump Is Helping Tycoons Exploit the Pandemic

Jane Mayer | The New Yorker | July 13, 2020 | 34 minutes (8,530 words)

“The secretive titan behind one of America’s largest poultry companies, who is also one of the president’s top donors, is ruthlessly leveraging the coronavirus crisis—and his vast fortune—to strip workers of protections.”

2. Insane after Coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood | London Review of Books | July 8, 2020 | 14 minutes (3,546 words)

Patricia Lockwood recounts her maddening experiences with COVID-19: “I had developed a low-grade fever. My head ached, my neck, my back. My eyes ached in their orbits and streamed tears whenever I tried to read or watch television. My mouth tasted like a foreign penny.”

3. How Koalas With an STD Could Help Humanity

Rachel E. Gross | The New York Times | July 13, 2020 | 9 minutes (2,360 words)

The adorable eucalyptus-eaters are on the front lines of research for a chlamydia vaccine.

4. Tune In, Drop Out

Ann Babe | Rest of World | July 14, 2020 | 13 minutes (3,350 words)

In South Korea, the cultural and familial pressure to conform is massive, and for many, crushing. Meet the individualist loners, the honjok, who are carving out a new way — and changing the Korean economy.

5. Me Llamo Theresa

Theresa Okokon | Hippocampus Magazine | July 7, 2020 | 9 minutes (2,403 words)

“Mrs. Wilson would have cocked her head to the side, furrowed her brow a bit as she pursed her lips like she had tasted something sour. She removed her eyes from my proud gaze to look instead at my mother. Is there anything else we can call her? Mrs. Wilson asked. Does she have a real name? An American name we can call her?

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

(Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for EBMRF)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Aaron Gell, Donovan X. Ramsey, Hannah L. Drake, E. Alex Jung, and Lina Mounzer.

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1. Unlucky Charms: The Rise and Fall of Billion-Dollar Jewelry Empire Alex and Ani

Aaron Gell | Marker | July 8, 2020 | 43 minutes (10,868 words)

“Astrology, private equity, a $1.1 billion gender discrimination lawsuit, and a precariously built bangle behemoth.”

2. The Political Education of Killer Mike

Donovan X. Ramsey | GQ | July 8, 2020 | 22 minutes (5,644 words)

“Mike is for Black banks, Black businesses, Black guns, Black colleges, Black homeownership—all things Black Americans can do here and now without passing a law or asking for permission. He’s also for using Black voting power to wrest everything we’re owed from the government. It’s Black nationalism with a hint of socialism and armed to the teeth.”

3. Breonna Taylor, Say Her Name.

Hannah L. Drake | The Bitter Southerner | July 7, 2020 | 6 minutes (1,591 words)

“Louisville poet and activist Hannah Drake reflects on the women in her family whose names were lost and stolen and the names of Black women that must never be forgotten.”

4. Thandie Newton Is Finally Ready to Speak Her Mind

E. Alex Jung | Vulture | July 7, 2020 | 31 minutes (7,920 words)

“What I am evidence of is: You can dismiss a Black person. If you’re a young Black girl and you get raped, in the film business, no one’s going to fucking care. You can tell whoever the fuck you want, and they’ll call it an affair. Until people start taking this seriously, I can’t fully heal.”

5. Waste Away

Lina Mounzer | The Baffler | July 7, 2020 | 13 minutes (3,363 words)

“To say that we’re drowning in our shit—the shit we all made together—is no longer a figure of speech in Lebanon today.” Lina Mounzer writes about Beirut’s broken sewage system and the political and economic factors that have drowned the city in its own waste.

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Former US Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Greg Jaffe, Justine van der Leun, Diana Moskovitz, Katy Vine, and Brian VanHooker.

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1. The Cursed Platoon

Greg Jaffe | The Washington Post | July 2, 2020 | 40 minutes (10,000 words)

“Clint Lorance had been in charge of his platoon for only three days when he ordered his men to kill three Afghans stopped on a dirt road. A second-degree murder conviction and pardon followed. Today, Lorance is hailed as a hero by President Trump. His troops have suffered a very different fate.”

2. “I Hope Our Daughters Will Not Be Punished”

Justine van der Leun | Dissent | June 29, 2020 | 16 minutes (4,109 words)

“From a solitary cell in Texas, Kwaneta Yatrice Harris writes letters documenting the torturous conditions, despite the risk of retribution.”

3. Tie a Tourniquet on Your Heart

Diana Moskovitz | Popula | June 25, 2020 | 15 minutes (3,948 words)

Journalist Diana Moskovitz revisits Pulitzer-prize winning crime reporter Edna Buchanan’s memoir “The Corpse Had a Familiar Face,” enshrined as part of a “textbook collection of great works of literary journalism.” “I reached for it as America erupted this month, yet again, in protests over the killings of Black people at the hands of police, wondering what Edna Buchanan, one of the greatest influences on late 20th century crime writing, would have to offer this moment.”

4. Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Master Auctioneer?

Katy Vine | Texas Monthly | June 24, 2020 | 23 minutes (5,843 words)

‘Eight days inside America’s Auction Academy, learning the secrets of “the dynamo from Dallas.”’

5. An Oral History of the Onion’s 9/11 Issue

Brian VanHooker | MEL Magazine | June 29, 2020 | 37 minutes (9,395 words)

“Immediately after 9/11, humorists struggled with what many called ‘the death of irony.’ Then ‘The Onion’ returned and showed everyone the way.”

The Grieving Landscape

RJ Sangosti / Getty / Fulcrum Publishing

Heidi Hutner | Fulcrum Publishing | June 2020 | 16 minutes (4,305 words)

We’re delighted to bring you an excerpt by Heidi Hutner from the anthology Doom With A View: Historical and Cultural Contexts of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. Edited by Kristen Iverson, with E. Warren Perry and Shannon Perry, the anthology arrives from Fulcrum Publishing in August, 2020.

* * *

At thirty-five, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. One year before my diagnosis, my mother died from complications after heart surgery. At the time of her death, my mother had cancer — lymphoma. Five years prior to Mom’s death, my father passed away from a brain tumor, a metastasis from the cancer melanoma.

Two years after I had completed my chemotherapy treatment for cancer, I gave birth to Olivia. My miracle baby.

Read more…

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

This week, we’re sharing stories from Mitchell S. Jackson, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Melissa Fay Greene, Luke Harding, and Irina Dumitrescu.

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1. Twelve Minutes and a Life

Mitchell S. Jackson | Runner’s World | June 18, 2020 | 24 minutes (6,150 words)

White people are allowed to go jogging. When Ahmaud Marquez Arbery did, he got lynched. “That Maud’s jogging made him the target of hegemonic white forces is a certain failure of America. Check the books—slave passes, vagrancy laws, Harvard’s Skip Gates arrested outside his own crib—Blacks ain’t never owned the same freedom of movement as whites.”

2. What Is Owed

Nikole Hannah-Jones | The New York Times Magazine | June 24, 2020 | 34 minutes (8,663 words)

A sweeping examination of racial wealth inequality in the U.S. brought about by centuries of government policies that have worked against Black Americans. Nikole Hannah-Jones argues that reparations must be the center of any policies adopted to help reduce the wealth gap.

3. 30 Years Ago, Romania Deprived Thousands of Babies of Human Contact

Melissa Fay Greene | The Atlantic | June 22, 2020 | 38 minutes (8,748 words)

Estimates say that 30 years ago under Nicolae Ceaușescu’s regime in Romania, 170,000 babies, children, and teens lived in “child gulags” often in filthy, horrific conditions. Deprived of loving care of any kind, those that lived were often under-developed physically and mentally, finding it hard or impossible to form attachments with other people. This is the story of one man who survived and was adopted by a family in America.

4. ‘A Chain of Stupidity’: the Skripal Case and the Decline of Russia’s Spy Agencies

Luke Harding | The Guardian | June 23, 2020 | 19 minutes (4,864 words)

“The new hero of journalism was no longer a grizzled investigator burning shoe leather, à la All the President’s Men, but a pasty-looking kid in front of a MacBook Air.”

5. Someone is Wrong on the Internet: A Study in Pandemic Distraction

Irina Dumitrescu | LitHub | June 19, 2020 | 10 minutes (2,719 words)

What do you do when all productivity hacks, parenting tips, and writing tricks lead to the same outcome — a total, pandemic-induced inability to focus?

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Getty Images

This week, we’re sharing stories from Lucas Waldron, Nadia Sussman, Thalia Beaty, and Ryan Gabrielson, as well as Jamil Smith, Cynthia Tucker, Venkatesh Rao, and Sirin Kale.

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1. “Somebody’s Gotta Help Me”

Lucas Waldron, Nadia Sussman, Thalia Beaty, Ryan Gabrielson
ProPublica | June 16, 2020 | 22 minutes (5,543 words)

“But abuse by law enforcement inside jails remains largely out of sight and harder to document.” Phillip Garcia was in psychiatric crisis. In jail and in the hospital, guards responded with violent force and restrained him for almost 20 hours, until he died.

2. The Power of Black Lives Matter

Jamil Smith | Rolling Stone | June 16, 2020 | 15 minutes (3,809 words)

“How the movement that’s changing America was built and where it goes next.” Do you know the names Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi? You do now.

3. The Way of John Lewis

Cynthia Tucker | The Bitter Southerner | June 16, 2020 | 11 minutes (2,817 words)

“As federal troops and militarized police descended on protesters, John Lewis pleaded for nonviolence. Cynthia Tucker shares her hope that a new generation of activists can learn from his courageous and peaceful fight for ‘beloved community.'”

4. Pandemic Time

Venkatesh Rao | Noema | June 8, 2020 | 21 minutes (5,337 words)

“The distorted experience of time through the COVID-19 pandemic reveals it to be an atemporal liminal passage between two great historic eras.”

5. ‘It’s Bullshit’: Inside the Weird, Get-Rich-Quick World of Dropshipping

Sirin Kale | Wired UK | May 1, 2020 | 10 minutes (4,035 words)

“$750,000 of sales, and around $100,000 of profit for Despin, in just 11 months. To this day, he has never seen or touched the product.”

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 11: Protestors rallied together outside of the First Police Precinct Station on June 11, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The protest was a demand for police reform and justice for George Floyd and other black men and women who have been killed by law enforcement. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Wesley Lowery, Sarah Bellamy, Shawn Yuan, Elamin Abdelmahmoud, and Gabrielle Bellot.

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1. Why Minneapolis Was the Breaking Point

Wesley Lowery | The Atlantic | June 10, 2020 | 19 minutes (4,880 words)

“Black men and women are still dying across the country. The power that is American policing has conceded nothing.” Wesley Lowery writes about what he’s learned about police violence, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the breaking point we’ve reached.

2. Performing Whiteness

Sarah Bellamy | The Paris Review | June 8, 2020 | 9 minutes (2,373 words)

“What are you carrying dormant in your body that springs up when confronted with Black joy, Black power, Black brilliance, Black Blackness in the world? How can you train your bodies to respond differently when you are triggered, when you’re in fight-or-flight mode? How can I help you stop yourselves from killing us?”

3. City of Solitude

Shawn Yuan | California Sunday Magazine | June 9, 2020 | 15 minutes (3,909 words)

“For 76 days, 9 million people in Wuhan slept, ate, and waited inside the largest quarantine in human history. Four people reveal what they saw and what happened after the lockdown ended.”

4. Rewriting Country Music’s Racist History

Elamin Abdelmahmoud | Rolling Stone | June 5, 2020 | 11 minutes (2,935 words)

“First, you exclude black people from the festivals. Then write them out by not recording them. And pretty soon, ‘you have this manufactured image of country music being white and being poor. But when a narrative is that clean,’ Giddens warns, ‘somebody wrote it.'”

5. How J.K. Rowling Betrayed the World She Created

Gabrielle Bellot | LitHub | June 10, 2020 | 10 minutes (2,646 words)

“On transphobia and growing up in the Harry Potter universe.”

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 04: An estimated 10,000 people gather in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza Park for a memorial service for George Floyd, the man killed by a Minneapolis police officer on June 04, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Ibram X. Kendi, Wesley Morris, James Baldwin,Betsy Morais and Alexandria Neason, and Josina Guess.

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1. The American Nightmare

Ibram X. Kendi | The Atlantic | June 1, 2020 | 10 minutes (2,595 words)

“Either there is something superior or inferior about the races, something dangerous and deathly about black people, and black people are the American nightmare; or there is something wrong with society, something dangerous and deathly about racist policy, and black people are experiencing the American nightmare.” One is a racist myth; the other, antiracist truth.

2. The Videos That Rocked America. The Song That Knows Our Rage.

Wesley Morris | The New York Times | June 3, 2020 | 6 minutes (1,700 words)

“Awash in the ghastly video mosaic shot by black people’s cameraphones, I found myself doubled over the kitchen sink. Then a lyric gave me strength.”

3. How to Cool It

James Baldwin | Esquire | July 4, 1971 | 32 minutes (8,214 words)

“I’m questioning the values on which this country thinks of itself as being based.” James Baldwin’s landmark 1968 interview about race relations in America.

4. The Story Has Gotten Away from Us

Betsy Morais, Alexandria Neason | Columbia Journalism Review | June 3, 2020 | 22 minutes (5,600 words)

“Six months of life and death in America.”

5. The Sound and The Fury of Jericho Brown

Josina Guess | The Bitter Southerner | June 2, 2020 | 18 minutes (4,712 words)

“His poetry deftly names the forces — be it cop, disease, or addiction — that would have him dead, while he celebrates the beauty, be it in a flower, in a lover’s embrace, or in anything that helps him thrive in this burning world.”

Your Wilderness Is Not Permanent

Photo courtesy of the author / UGA Press

Sejal Shah | UGA Press | excerpted from This Is One Way to Dance | June 2020 | 14 minutes (3,746 words)


“I think we’d like to make love now.” The words repeated: a murmur, a shimmer, a cat walking across covers. The woman saying these words had red hair and very pale skin. She wore sparkly eyeliner, purple. She lay next to a man beneath a brown sleeping bag. It seemed like a reasonable request. My eyes flickered open. I looked at their bare shoulders and collarbones. (Why were they saying this to me?) The night, absent of stars, wound itself around us. I lay curled near their blanket-covered legs. I closed my eyes and fell back to sleep.

I opened my eyes. The night lifted, a navy-blue scrim rising. The white man had dreads. The white woman told me that she had been a sixth-grade teacher. “I was a teacher, too,” I said. The man grinned. He reminded me of a former student who often argued with me and liked to talk. A lot. My student was tall but hunched over, always wore an olive-colored jacket, and something about him seemed oddly animal-like, but not in an unpleasant way. I paused. Then: “What am I doing in your car?”

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