My work

Recent Work

Let’s Not Forget – Martin Luther King Jr. was preaching about economic justice too
The Undefeated, January 2017

In Memphis, Tennessee, where King was killed nearly 50 years ago, volunteers will pick up trash in more than a dozen neighborhoods.

But to honor King mainly through benevolence is to overlook the civil rights leader’s commitment to the working poor.

When Is a Remark Racist? 

Nieman Reports, January 2017

What’s the difference between comments that are ‘racially charged’, ‘racially offensive’ or ‘racially insensitive’? What raises an incident to the nuclear option of ‘racist’? And how much does readers’ (mis)understanding of race in America stem from journalists’ (in)ability to describe an increasingly polarized world with precision and context?

Looking for Whitelash: Journalism and Trump
Nieman Reports, November 2016

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does echo—but too few journalists were listening for the reverberation. Jim Crow followed Reconstruction. The war on drugs followed the civil rights movement. There was no reason to believe President Obama’s election would be followed by a post-racial utopia, especially when yawning racial disparities remained.

Turning schools around, at high speeds

Christian Science Monitor, December 2016

If securing resources for the neediest students is a puzzle, (Topeka Public Schools Superintendent Tiffany) Anderson does more than fit the pieces together. She creates pieces where none exist.

This is the challenge of the modern-day public school superintendent and Anderson, who previously has turned around other districts, is making a name for herself as one of the best. She plays the role of lobbyist, cheerleader, visionary, coach, conductor, strategist, and fundraiser, all with the shrewdness of a politician.

Reporter gives behind-the-scenes look at Ferguson and ‘black death beat’ in new book
Chicago Tribune, November 2016

Comparisons between police departments’ militarized response to Black Lives Matter protests across the country and the violence in war zones overseas tend toward exaggeration, but it’s no hyperbole to characterize Lowery’s approach as that of a soldier. Physically exhausted and emotionally drained, he travels from city to city, immersing himself in the community’s anger and frustration, all while using social media to get story tips and find contacts.


‘Saturday Night Live’ skit has people talking about who and what really is dividing us
The Undefeated, November 2016

But while blacks and whites may share the same suspicions about the political process, it comes from different places. Our distrust stems from the government’s commitment to white privilege and restricting our civil rights. White people’s resentment seems to grow as nonwhite and LGBT people’s rights expand.

Louisville’s experiment: Can teaching empathy boost math scores?
Christian Science Monitor, October 2016


At Cane Run Elementary School, ringing bells mark more than the start of the school day.

For teachers Meghann Clem and Christine “Shay” Johnson, the sound of a chime begins another 50-minute lesson to teach students compassion, empathy, mindfulness, and resilience. These so-called soft skills, research suggests and educators believe, will translate into success inside and outside of school.

It’s all part of the Compassionate Schools Project (CSP), an ambitious $11 million, six-year experiment in social and emotional learning in Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public Schools.

Years cannot erase the scars of sexual assault
The Undefeated, October 2016

On the back of my right hand, if I lay it flat, you can see a small, thin, jagged line. It’s the only sexual assault scar I have that you can see.

These days, the headlines are dominated either by analysis of the Republican presidential candidate’s boasts of sexual assault or another allegation that Donald Trump has sexually assaulted a woman. He’s dismissed the boasts as locker room talk and has denied the accusations. These days, I find myself running my finger over my scar and remembering.


White supremacy kills, no matter who pulls the trigger
The Undefeated, September 2016

Even as woke as I want to believe I am, part of me couldn’t help but absorb the white supremacy that pollutes America, the mistaken assumption that police only kill us when they absolutely have to. So I have to fight the instinct to see for myself, to try to make the senseless make sense.

Calvin Trillin’s ‘Jackson, 1964’ shows historical consistency of American racism
Chicago Tribune, June 2016

Instead of looking for proof of progress in Calvin Trillin’s “Jackson, 1964 and Other Dispatches From Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America,” take solace in America’s consistency.

For everything else that changes, the contours of the country’s racism remain largely the same.

Surplus military equipment floods small town
The Commercial Appeal, August 2014

 The federal surplus military equipment program that empowered Ferguson, Missouri, police to meet protesters with a paramilitary show of force also funneled a small arsenal to Shelby County law enforcement agencies.

Of the current inventory in the county, 75 percent of the equipment went to Bartlett police, according to the inventory records kept by state Law Enforcement Support Office, which administers the Defense Logistics Agency program. For the cost of shipping, Bartlett received 113 assault rifles. The city has 116 commissioned officers.


Ex-marker for Forrest Park left in legal limbo
The Commercial Appeal, March 2014
forrest park wct column


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