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The 29-year-old founder of Ethel’s Club had to make a hard pivot last year, but she knew it was important to stick to her vision

Naj Austin knows exactly what she wants and has no problem making it happen. Her high school classmates always knew this. “She’s a dog with a bone,” says a description in Austin’s high school yearbook. “She doesn’t let anything go. When she finds something she believes in, it’s a never-ending journey.”

Now 29, Austin feels she hasn’t changed at all. In November 2019, she launched Ethel’s Club, a social group and safe space invented for people of color, after becoming fed up with the lack of options for people like her to flourish and thrive in a welcoming environment. She…


American history is filled with politicians, journalists, organizers, and citizens claiming they don’t have a racist bone in their body

Humans are notoriously terrible at accurately assessing themselves. That’s why medical researchers question the validity of self-reported data and pollsters rely on more subtle questioning to tease out people’s attitudes than a straightforward ask. And yet, at the highest echelons of American journalism and governance, human self-knowledge is still presumed to be easily accessible, particularly when it comes to racism.

The day after the Atlanta spa shootings, in which six of the eight massacred were women of Asian descent, Captain Jay Baker, the spokesman for Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, relayed that the suspect himself claimed the attacks were…


The mass shooter in Atlanta embodied the flawed logic that racial stereotypes reflect fact-based truths

Racism introduces absurdism into the human condition. Not only does racism express the absurdity of the racists, it generates absurdity in the victims.

— Chester Himes

Our nation is mourning the recent attacks on the Asian American community. On Tuesday, a man murdered eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. This comes amidst the global pandemic where anti-Asian hate speech and violence are on the rise.

As we watch the coverage of this tragedy, many of us are privy to the absurdity of racism in America. This absurdity was even articulated by the man who carried out the killings. The…


The Atlanta shootings were a culmination of centuries of hypersexualization of Asian women

A photo of a young, Asian woman in winter clothes
A photo of a young, Asian woman in winter clothes

On Wednesday, I learned that the white man who murdered six Asian women in Atlanta denied that his actions were racially motivated. Like many Asian American women, I was overwhelmed with disgust.

Typical. How many times have white men tried to excuse their actions toward me by saying, “I’m not racist, I’m just — ”

By this point in my life, I don’t really care what comes after that. The excuse is always racist. And the man never has to face consequences for it.

In the case of the Atlanta killing spree, the excuse was particularly infuriating. The shooter told…


With his new book, the CNN anchor thinks he knows exactly how to reach them — by being who he’s always been

The first time I became aware of Don Lemon was on June 27, 2013, the day he agreed with Bill O’Reilly. Responding to remarks by President Obama about the recent murder of 17-year-old Travon Martin, O’Reilly had taken to his nightly show on Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, to argue that the “disintegration of the African-American family” is due to “violence” and “chaos” in Black communities. A few days later, on a segment of his CNN show he called “No Talking Points,” Lemon decided to re-play the tape from O’Reilly, a rant that MSNBC’s Chris Hayes had described as “super…


Hello GEN reader! Medium is hosting a big event tomorrow and we’d love for you to join us. “The Purpose of Power will be a live Zoom conversation between #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza and Vanessa De Luca, editor-in-chief of ZORA.

The event starts at 4:15 ET/1:15 PT and you can register for free here.

As the architect of one of the most notable civil rights movements of the 21st century, Alicia Garza has forever redefined what it means to organize with impact. In her chat with De Luca, she’ll answer questions about what constitutes a movement and what doesn’t, how to create coalitions around causes even when everyone doesn’t always agree, and the importance of purpose-driven leadership in these turbulent times.

Again, here’s that registration link. We hope to see you there.

All best,
Brendan Vaughan
Editor-in-chief, GEN


It was wrong to hope that Meghan Markle could ‘assimilate’ into the royal family

I didn’t watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s televised 2018 wedding. I couldn’t for the life of me understand the public obsession over the event, especially for anyone old enough to remember how the press literally hounded Princess Diana to her death. I didn’t have to tune in live to see what their marriage was up against: relentless savaging by the British press and the complicity of the royal family. In hindsight, I should have predicted a ratings behemoth of an interview with Oprah Winfrey (who was a guest at the royal wedding) would have been somewhere in the mix.


How I Got Radicalized

As a child, I loved Disney princesses. As an adult, my concern goes beyond the problematic stereotypes

Welcome to “How I Got Radicalized,” a series from GEN that tells the story of a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

In the fall of 1998, as my big sister’s 15th birthday approached, we both huddled in excitement on the moss-green carpet of our home, watching cable TV as we awaited our mother’s return from a neighboring town. We lived in Bauchi, a city in northern Nigeria, and Mum had gone on a several-day trip to Jos, about two hours away. It was an unspoken family tradition for our parents to return from out-of-town trips…


The government should invest in Black survival, not a one-time payment just to call things even

Republicans are so predictable. When presented with measures to improve the lives of the marginalized, the anti-progress party can be counted on to oppose them using pretzel logic. God and the Constitution are the GOP’s favorite standbys, trotted out to back up objections to everything from marriage equality to the recent U.S. Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump to, apparently, reparations.

Former NFL star Herschel Walker cited God last week in explaining his opposition to paying reparations for slavery to Black Americans. Speaking during a February 17 virtual congressional hearing on House Resolution 40, legislation to create a committee…


Doing so only hurts both the Black and Asian communities

Last week, Laura Huang, an author and associate professor at Harvard Business School, addressed in a tweet the exponential rise in anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year. “I want to see how passionately people (incl other POC) will stand up for Asians,” she wrote. “Those of you who were so vocal w BLM, where are you on the 1900% increase in Asian-directed hate crimes?”

These hate crimes, such as the assault of a 64-year-old grandmother in San Jose, California, earlier this month and the murder of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee shortly before, are part of a wave of violence toward…

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