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.
It's hard to think of another role with as much impact as being a mother and father. For almost every other position, we are replaceable in the long term. Someone else will do our job, for better or worse, if we're not there to do it. Someone else will eventually start our company or make our invention or sketch out our idea. Maybe it won't happen for a long time; maybe it would have happened earlier, if we weren't around to slow things down. But eventually, society makes progress, and the niches of innovation — in business or technology, art or politics — are filled.
The stories we're featuring on the site now touch upon the impact that fathers have — even in their absence. In Learned at My Father's Feet
, Kae Dickson remembers her experience caring for her "Daddy" at the end of his life, as dementia robbed him of his memories and independence. In A Circle, Broken
, Amy O'Loughlin reviews a family memoir by CNN journalist Mark Whitaker, who describes his complicated relationship with his absentee father, an African American scholar who blazed trails only to see his career burn out amid his struggles with alcoholism.
This week the magazine is featuring a trio of articles about prisons, real and psychological. In Freed, but Scarred
, Francesca Crozier-Fitzgerald describes the post-prison lives of three men who spent, among them, forty-three years in New York penitentiaries for crimes they did not commit. In an accompanying photo essay, Life after Innocence
, Dana Ullman presents intimate portraits of the three men and their families, still scarred by absences and regrets. Finally, in Across Oceans, Haunted by Memories
, Susan M. Lee reviews the novel "The Reeducation of Cherry Truong," a tale of two Vietnamese families flung across the globe, chased by their war-era remembrances of traumas endured and wrongs perpetrated — at times, on each other.
Hitchhiking has become an anachronism in many parts of the world, along with the trust of strangers that makes it possible, but in The Road Less Traveled
, Lita Wong hitches her way through rural Cuba and finds herself relying in unexpected ways on the kindness and decency of the people she meets on the road. Also check out Havel: An Authentic Life
, Jan Vihan's essay on the plays of Vaclav Havel, the Czech statesman, revolutionary, and writer who died at the end of last year.