When an unarmed black man dies after a confrontation with police, there is a natural tendency to focus on racist police officers or racist police departments. We saw this after the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and we saw it, too, after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Walter Scott in North Charleston. Without a doubt, there are plenty of bigoted bad apples to be found, as seen in the shockingly racist emails unearthed in the Department of Justice investigation into Ferguson’s police department. But we also need to consider that big picture, or what sociologists call social structure: institutions like the economy and political system and the roles that people take up within them. After all, the modern-day factors pushing down poor African American communities—and pulling them into hostile encounters with police—involve more than just racial discrimination (or at least discrimination of the plain-vanilla variety).
The following are the best pieces published in In The Fray this year, as chosen by the editors.
Today, twelve Sherpas died in an avalanche on Mount Everest, the worst accident in the mountain's history. (Four are still missing.) The Sherpa community, an ethnic group in Nepal renowned for their mountaineering skills, has long guided foreign visitors up the world's tallest peak. "Sherpas bear the real burden of climbing Mount Everest," American mountaineer Conrad Anker told National Geographic
. "They're the ones who take the biggest risks."
Last year we published a story by Stephanie Lowe
that described the growing dangers of the mountain and the concerns of the Sherpa guides, whose very job is to risk their lives on Everest's slopes.
Out of everything we published this year, our editors chose the following pieces from each section for being standouts among their peers. As we see it, they best represent what In The Fray
is all about: stories that further our understanding of other people and encourage empathy and compassion.
Click here to read our best commentary, news, photo essay, culture, and blog pieces from 2013.
I am writing to ask you for your support. For twelve years, In The Fray
has published stories that further our understanding of other people and encourage empathy and compassion. The staff work hard — for me and others, on a strictly volunteer basis — to bring you original reporting, photo essays, personal narratives, and reviews that we think are timely and compelling on a global scale.
Our small nonprofit urgently needs your help
to continue our mission to be a forum for real, honest discussion and provocative, informed storytelling.
In The Fray
contributing writer Joshunda Sanders recently spoke at TEDCity2.0
, a conference focused on the challenges and innovations that cities across the world are experiencing today. Joshunda gave a moving talk about her mother's struggle with mental illness (a story she also told for our blog
), and the ways that cities can help, and hinder, the lives of the mentally ill — particularly those who are poor and homeless. There are compelling reasons, Joshunda says, that so many homeless individuals congregate in cities.
To celebrate International Women's Day, tonight In The Fray tweeted links from stories we've published
over the past decade that relate to violence against women. We joined thousands of other individuals and groups in a twenty-four-hour, global tweet-a-thon
to raise awareness about gender-based violence. In case you were asleep during our time slot, here are the links we tweeted:
Breaking the Silence
, by April D. Boland
When Rape Becomes Normal
, by Anna Sussman and Jonathan Jones
Naked Feminists: A Conversation with Director Louisa Achille
, by Laura Nathan-Garner
, by Emily Alpert
Genocide Is Not a Spectator Sport
, by Anustup Nayak
Sisters of Fate
, by Sarah Marian Seltzer
Look below the fold for the tweets.
My apologies for the procrastination — it's an occupational hazard of volunteer work — but here are the editors' picks for the best articles published in In The Fray
magazine in 2012. (Actually, since December 2011, when we relaunched the site after a year's hiatus.)
Commentary: The Road Less Traveled
, by Lita Wong
News: Freed, but Scarred
, by Francesca Crozier-Fitzgerald
Photo Essay: Capitalism Reborn: An East African Story
, by Jonathan Kalan
Review: Havel: An Authentic Life
, by Jan Vihan
If you like the thoughtful, empathetic journalism that we believe these articles represent, please consider making a donation
to In The Fray
. Any amount helps. Thanks for your support!
Check out Rob York's new piece, Born This Way
, about an American pastor who, from a barroom pulpit in Seoul, preaches a message of Christian love and acceptance of homosexuality, leading his mostly gay congregation in a David-and-Goliath struggle against South Korea's conservative Christian establishment. Also featured on the site is The Chicago Way
, an essay by Nicole Cipri about the long and brazen history of corruption in that city — a “place so crooked,” the Chicago Tribune once lamented, that “even the reformers are on the take.” If you like these or the other stories we've featured throughout the year, please consider making a tax-deductible donation
to our nonprofit, which very much needs your support to continue publishing into the new year. Happy holidays!
The stories recently featured on the site — The Grapes of Graft
by Karen Schaefer, Guitar Hero
by Cherise Fong, and The Cajun Cellist
by Eli Epstein — have something to say about virtues often forgotten in today's competitive, frenzied society: humility, patience, hard work with no immediate gratification.
New York Times
columnist David Brooks has made the case
that today's society has lost the sense of humility that once tempered the greatness of the Greatest Generation. Even on the day that the Allies defeated Japan, what was striking was the absence of gloating, Brooks says. Public pronouncements conveyed humility, a simple gladness that the suffering had ended, and a rejection of the tempting belief that the victors were God's chosen.
In ITF's interview
with Andrew Blackwell, the author of the book Visit Sunny Chernobyl talks about his travels to the world's most polluted places. One point he raises is that there's no way to return the environment to the "pure, pre-human phase" of its existence — and that this is a misguided ideal to begin with.
Perhaps it says something about humanity's self-centered view of the world that the catchphrase for the environmental movement is "save the planet." Planet Earth doesn't need saving. If life can survive in the pitch-dark, pitiless abyss of the deep ocean, or recolonize remote islands after volcanic explosions wipe the landscape clean, or — as Blackwell points out — thrive in irradiated zones where human beings now fear to tread, then you can imagine that life will eventually adapt to whatever nightmare scenario Homo sapiens visits on its terrestrial neighborhood.