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The Best of the Broadside in 2017

20172017 has been ragged and turbulent, charged with a fraught political climate spawned by a divisive presidential election. 2017 witnessed assaults on progress in racial justice, backlashes against environmental protections, and more. When we needed perspective and lucid social critique on the latest attacks on our civil liberties, our authors were there. We couldn’t be more thankful for them. They make the Broadside, which reached its tenth anniversary this year, the treasure trove of thought-provoking commentary we can turn to in our troubling and uncertain times. As our director Helene Atwan wrote in our first ever blog post, “It’s our hope that Beacon Broadside will be entertaining, challenging, provocative, unexpected, and—maybe above all—a good appetizer.” We certainly hope that’s the case for the year to come. Before 2017 comes to a close, we would like to share a collection of some of the highlights of the Broadside. Happy New Year!


“Beacon Authors Speak Truth to Trump on Inauguration Day”

InaugurationThe election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and his approval rating spread doubts, fears, and concerns about what he and his administration would do during his term in the White House. For Inauguration Day, we reached out to a few of our authors, from Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II to Rafia Zakaria, to ask them to share what they wanted Trump to know, understand or beware of.


Aviva Chomsky’s “A Day without Immigrants: How the Undocumented Keep America’s Job Economy Afloat”

A Day Without ImmigrantsIn response to President Trump’s immigration agenda, which pledges to seal the US/Mexico border, “A Day without Immigrants” boycotts and strikes were organized nationwide. The protests called attention to the contributions immigrant communities make to US business and culture. The generally unacknowledged work that undocumented workers do is crucial to the standard of living and consumption enjoyed by virtually everybody in the US. Aviva Chomsky explains in this excerpt from her book Undocumented that as the rise in undocumented workers over the past decades goes on, the US economic system continues to exploit them.


Lori Tharps’s “For Colored Girls Who Were Mistaken for the Nanny By a Public Who Didn’t Know Enough”

Robert Kelly Jung-a Kim and their childrenRemember when South Korea expert Robert Kelly was being interviewed live on the BBC and his two children walked into his office as the camera was rolling? It was hilarious! And the video went viral. Yet it was assumed that Jung-a Kim, the woman who swooped in to haul the kids out of the room, was the nanny, not Kelly’s wife. Same Family, Different Colors author Lori Tharps unpacks the notion that in American society, families are supposed to match; and when they don’t, all kinds of problems and false assumptions can arise, both inside and outside the home.


Christian Coleman’s “Her Eyes Weren’t Watching God: The Empathetic Secular Vision of Octavia Butler”

Octavia E ButlerMacArthur fellow and multiple award-winning science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler would have turned seventy this year if she were still with us. Her fiction is still with us and stands the test of time, especially her classic novel Kindred. Our digital marketing associate and blog editor Christian Coleman paid tribute to her on her birthday in this piece about how her atheist outlook was just as important as her Black feminist perspective in developing the social justice consciousness of her work.


Christopher Emdin: “Thoughts on Transformative Pedagogy for National Teacher Appreciation Week”

Christopher EmdinChristopher Emdin’s For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood galvanized the field of urban education when it came out in 2016 and continues to do so today. It radically reframes the approaches to teaching and learning in urban schools by taking to task the perception of urban youth of color as unteachable and challenging educators to embrace and respect each student’s culture and to reimagine the classroom as a site where roles are reversed and students become experts in their own learning. This excerpt, posted last year on our blog in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, generated a lot of enthusiastic conversation on social media this year, most notably on Twitter. It lists some of Emdin’s key musings to motivate educators to keep going.


“A Charlottesville Syllabus for Our Uncertain Times”

End White SupremacyThe events in Charlottesville, Virginia, were a frightening and disheartening reminder of how hate and intolerance in the US resurface when bigots feel empowered to act on their prejudice. Discussions about hate and dismantling white supremacy need to continue in order for us to work toward inclusiveness and social justice. That’s why we put together this list of resources and continue to add to it in our troubled times.


“Learning the Truth about Thanksgiving and America’s Origin Story”

The First ThanksgivingThanksgiving is a time when the topic of our nation’s origins crops up again in our conversations. But much of the US’s widely accepted origin story is skewed by the lens of settler colonialism and has silenced the voices of Native Americans. Consequently, many fabricated myths about Native Americans remain with us today. Revered historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, and journalist Dina Gilio-Whitaker, coauthor with Dunbar-Ortiz of “All the Real Indians Died Off,” have debunked these myths and uncovered history that isn’t acknowledged or well known by the general public so that we can honor and reflect on the contributions of Indigenous peoples in America.


Gayle Wald’s “Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe Inducted in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Class of 2018”

Sister_Rosetta_TharpeAlthough guitar virtuoso Sister Rosetta Tharpe has long been recognized as the godmother of rock, she’s been shockingly overlooked in rock ‘n’ roll history—until now. This year, she was finally inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We wouldn’t have the likes of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Eric Clapton, and Etta James were it not for Tharpe, who paved the way for them with her innovative, charismatic guitar technique and crossover appeal. We all agree with Gayle Wald, writer of Tharpe’s biography Shout, Sister, Shout!, that it’s about time she got her overdue recognition.