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The Best of the Broadside in 2020

New Year 2020
Image credit: Syaibatul Hamdi

Give yourself a round of applause for running the marathon and sadistic obstacle course that was 2020! Or a glass of wine. Recollect yourself and recuperate with your self-care regimen if you have one. This year ran us so ragged we may not be in any mood to look back in annoyance, exhaustion, or terror. But this is one of those car wrecks worthy of a size-up so we can take stock of the issues that blew up in 2020. That way, we can recommit to learning about them in the New Year to set the nation back on course to the society we want. The top read blog posts on the Broadside are a good, and hopefully less painful, way to do that. Give our authors a round of applause and appreciation for giving us the context and critique to understand these issues and where to go from here!

Here are this year’s highlights of the Broadside with a few favorites from previous years. See you in the new year with more insightful blog posts from our authors!


Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner

“How We’re Silenced and the Power of Judy Heumann”
Kristen Joiner

“Writing Judy’s story, this is what I’ve learned: there is no path to challenging abusive societal norms that allows us to stay in the nice box. Speaking the truth about and taking on the wrongs of the world is never going to be nice. It is always going to be about challenging and dismantling power structures, and privilege will do anything it can to shame, bully, and exclude truthtellers. Talking about being a victim of sexual assault, being discriminated against, being violated—none of it is nice. The dehumanization of people is ugly business. Period.”



“Coronavirus Pandemic Could Trigger Happy Endings for Tigers”
J. A. Mills

“Here’s the potentially good news, as I see it. This is the moment—perhaps the last, best moment—for the world to finally put an end to commercial wildlife farming promoted by China and growing across Southeast Asia, South Africa, and elsewhere. Farming that has raised demand for wildlife parts and products and put a price on the head of every tiger, rhino, and bear in the wild, because many consumers believe those taken from the wild are of superior quality—not unlike wild versus farmed salmon.”


Patrick J. Carr

“When I Think of Pat: A Tribute to Patrick J. Carr”
Gayatri Patnaik

“I had the privilege of being Pat’s editor on Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What It Means for America that Beacon published in 2009. He coauthored it with sociologist Maria Kefalas, who is also his wife, and I loved working with this duo immediately. They were an immensely talented and vibrant couple . . . . Today, I find myself thinking so much of this extraordinary couple and of this special man who meant so much to so many people. He’s left an amazing legacy and will be profoundly missed.”


The Other America

“Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘The Other America’ Still Radical 50 Years Later”

“The great tragedy is that the nation continues in its national policy to ignore the conditions that brought the riots or the rebellions into being. For in the final analysis, the riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America’s failed to hear? It’s failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of justice and freedom have not been met. It has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, humanity, and equality, and it is still true. It is still true that these things are being ignored.”


Black Lives Matter protest

“10 Practical Steps for Building a Less Racially Stupid Society”
Crystal Marie Fleming

“I know it’s tempting to wish racism away—to just sort of assume that there’s an inevitability to progress. But if you want to be less stupid about race, you need to let that shit go right now. There is no quick fix for racism. Go back and read that sentence. Then tell a friend. There’s! No! Quick! Fix! None . . . . If you want to pursue the cause of social justice, give up the need for quick fixes and gird your loins for a long struggle. To sustain your work for the long haul, you’ll have to build up your reserves of resilience, self-care, community care, and courage. You’ll have to nurture your capacity for hope, humor, love, and connection, even, and especially, in the midst of oppression.”


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“Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of Settler Privilege”
Dina Gilio-Whitaker

“People who do not have ancestral connections to Native communities are all either settlers or immigrants. People with ambiguous ‘Native ancestry,’ like Elizabeth Warren, are so disconnected from whatever Native roots they may have had that they can no longer be considered Native. Settlers are people whose ancestors came to acquire recently dispossessed Indian lands, such as recipients of the homesteads of the nineteenth century and earlier land speculators. Immigrants are people who came later to cash in on the benefits of American citizenship that didn’t necessarily include land (but might have if they came with enough money to invest in American land). Most are settlers (also ‘colonizers’) or immigrants by choice, with the exception of Blacks who are descended from slaves who were settled here without their consent.”


French trading with Native Americans in Quebec

“Settler Fragility: Why Settler Privilege Is So Hard to Talk About”
Dina Gilio-Whitaker

“Settler privilege thus simultaneously implicates and is beyond racism, which is one reason why, paradoxically, even non-Native people of color can experience a type of privilege and fragility. Fragility stems from the need to distance oneself from complicity in settler colonialism, in what some scholars have called ‘settler moves to innocence.’ The good-bad binary is part of this distancing impulse, because like racism, nobody wants to be associated with genocide and injustice, especially in a country that touts its democracy and equality, and especially for people who have been oppressed by it in other ways. But compared to white privilege, this is what makes settler privilege so much more beguiling and difficult: it cuts to the core of American identity in all its iterations, subtly calling into question the legitimacy of the US and the sense of belonging on the land.”


James Baldwin

“James Baldwin Warned Us: The Fires Last Time Are the Fires This Time”

“The forces of Imani Perry and Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. are joining in our latest Baldwin publication. We’re excited to release Nothing Personal, his famous 1964 essay on social isolation, race, police brutality—sounds a lot like what we’re living through during the pandemic, doesn’t it?—with a foreword by Perry and an afterword by Glaude. A trifecta of Black brilliance. Baldwin’s critique of American society at the height of the Civil Rights movement is as incisive as ever.”

New Year 2020