Personal Essays Archive

White Like Me

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Writing for me had always been a release. But every time I tried to write about my experiences as a Black man, the same thing happened: I doubted myself, and wondered if I was Black enough to write about the Black experience.

Reading New Orleans Writers on Hurricanes and Home

When Hurricane Ida struck New Orleans, I was one of the lucky ones with family outside of the city that I could stay with to ride out the aftermath of the storm, when the poor infrastructure and the ways the powerful have ripped off the people comes to light

The Varieties of Black Liberation in The Heart of a Woman

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In Maya Angelou’s 1981 memoir, she travels to New York, London, Cairo, and Accra. Everywhere she goes, she meets people who look like her but do not necessarily think like her. Black skin, she realizes, does not immediately equate to kinship, and in fact can mask conflicting understandings of

A Year of Online Flânerie

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Lauren Elkin has written at length about women indulging in the pleasures of walking and discovering cities. Over the last fifteen months, with the world outside so static, I have walked down online paths, led not only by intrinsic curiosity but also by an inquisitiveness that arose out of

On the Confederate Flag

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I’m driving in silence on State Highway 70, except for this truck that is motoring slow, and its exhaust pipe chokes like the engine is cutting off. The truck bed is rusted, exposing the primer. Still visible, though the paint is chipped, is the red, white, and blue star-crossed

Sacredness in the In-Between

Sergio Troncoso has chosen to situate his latest anthology in an in-between place. Through fiction, poetry, and nonfiction by Mexican American authors, it explores families living along the U.S.-Mexico border and how being in the middle of worlds impacts their lives.

States of Refusal in How to Do Nothing and Housekeeping

“Fourteen years ago I left my job at a publicly traded company and began life as a freelancer. In all these years I have been trying to get to what Jenny Odell calls the ‘third space,’ an arena of both participation in and resistance to society.”

Language and the Experience of Desire

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A few summers ago, I found myself tongue-tied on a first date. When I’m in London, flirting tastes like the first day of Spring: it imbues the air with possibility, and teases out a linguistic recklessness in me. In Dutch, I seemed to inhabit a less sensuous version of

Searching for My Grandmother in The Heart Mountain Sentinel

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When my grandmother was a girl, she slept with a knife underneath her pillow. The soft brutality of this detail rushes to the forefront of my mind every time I recall her face. I’m pulled in by the image of her small body afraid but ready to fight.

How the Past Echoes Through Our Lives

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There is nothing especially remarkable about Papa Stanley’s death, no significant reason I should be thinking about it some 33 years later in the midst of a global pandemic and nationwide anti-racism protests, except it was the first part of what I came to see as a pattern emerging.