Category Archives: Essays

Getting to Graduation

By Heather Steffen, Chelsea Brandwein, Nastacia Schmoll, and Erika Carlos

 Their last day on campus, students all look the same. Black robes processing into a gym, through a stadium, across a dais, tassels swinging. A sea of smiling parents and bored siblings, phones held aloft, bracing to fight for a table at a local restaurant with almost hysterical patience and bonhomie. When students graduate, all that separate them are tiny differences — summa versus magna, a BS or a BA. It’s as though college were some ritual of purification that could wash off class, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, and family, leaving only the graduate, an immaculate figure in black. Continue reading

Remembering the 43

By Brad Evans

It’s been nearly three years since the fateful attacks upon college students in Iguala, Guerrero state, Mexico. Following a coordinated assault by unidentified gunmen upon five coaches, the violence left six dead, 40 wounded, and 43 forcibly disappeared. Their whereabouts still remains unknown; though with the each passing day and the continual finding of mass graves in the region, most inevitably fear the worse for the innocent young men from Raul Isidro Burgos Rural College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. So as mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, loved ones continue to live in a cruel limbo of hope and despair, it is important we remember the “43” and in the fight for justice and all too human dignity ask searching questions in their names. Continue reading

Two Trumps or One?

By Jill Frank

President Trump’s speeches whiplash between calls for national togetherness and exploiting ethnic divisions. When he reads prepared text from a teleprompter, as he did two days after the Charlottesville terrorism and in his August 21 speech on Afghanistan, he focuses on themes of unity. These speeches are generally attributed to National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. When Trump goes off-script, as he did at a press conference three days after Charlottesville and at his rally in Phoenix on August 22, he slashes and divides. These words are generally believed, per his Twitter thoughts, to be the “real Donald Trump.”  Continue reading

The New “New Negro”

By Marina Magloire

The Harlem Renaissance, Remixed

Once upon a time, blackness was in vogue. It was a period where the New Negro, adorned in furs, sequins, and pinstripes, walked the streets of urban America. It was a period when Langston Hughes was a young poet-busboy, when Zora Neale Hurston studied at Barnard, when W.E.B. DuBois ran the NAACP. It was a period when white revelers flocked to see black entertainers wail, shimmy, and shout at segregated venues like the Cotton Club, in the hopes of catching a little of whatever it was that made black people dance like that.  It was a period when Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican-born orator, could draw a crowd of thousands by shouting the siren call of “Africa for the Africans!” It a period when it was so cool, so joyful to be black that you could charge a cover for your own house party, so long as the music was good and you provided refreshments. It was the 1920s, and blackness was visible on every street corner in America, and it was as though black America had collectively decided that white America may not like us, but they were sure as hell going to see us. And we were visible with such grace and style that history saw fit to memorialize it in the name: the Harlem Renaissance. Continue reading

Drinking with the Ghost: Raymond Chandler at Musso and Frank’s

By Katie Orphan 

Welcome to “Drinking with the Ghost,” a recurring feature in which I seek out a bar (or other drinking establishment) to commune with the spirit of a late author. It won’t be supernatural, and I won’t be using a Ouija board or séance; instead, I’ll be using the author’s written words to connect with them and to bridge the distance of time between us in the space we share. My hope is that you won’t just visit these bars and drink vicariously through me, but that you’ll take yourself out for a visit with an author in their favorite watering hole. Continue reading

Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven Revisited

By Steve Light

When the western film True Grit was released in 2010, nobody expected that it would win an Oscar for best picture. And it didn’t. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Susan King remarked that the nomination of Joel and Ethan Cohen’s True Grit highlighted how rarely westerns have actually won the best picture award; the last western to win was Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven in l992. Continue reading

American Monuments and the Residue of History

By John Levi Barnard

On August 11th and 12th, a white supremacist mob descended on the town of Charlottesville, Virginia, ostensibly to protest the removal of a statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The protest erupted into violence, culminating with one of its members driving a car into a group of counterprotesters, leaving one dead and many injured. “Sad,” Trump tweeted, “to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.” Pursuing this line of thought, Trump wondered where this anti-monumental carnage was going to end: “who’s next,” he rhetorically asked, “Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!” Continue reading