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Social Justice

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Active Voice

The 26-year-old activist is reimagining new social and political norms

At the time of Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012, Brea Baker was only 17. The now 26-year-old racial and gender justice activist recalls the tragedy being a defining moment in how social media served as a catalyst for activism in the United States. Black Lives Matter proliferated on Twitter and the overall digital space, playing a key role in Baker’s coming-of-age. Though she initially pursued a degree in physics while attending Yale, Baker’s growing involvement in activism pushed her to switch her major to political science. …


I work in fast food — cleaning, grilling, smiling — and I know why you don’t want me to earn $15 an hour

Past midnight, or at 2 a.m. on the weekends, our fast-food place closes its doors and we use the next hour to clean up and put everything back in its place. Recently, we got an additional task, sorting through the trash to meet new recycling requirements: plastic in the yellow trash can, food in the red one. “We grill burgers, not the Earth” was the gist of the initiative, an effort to address the fast-food industry’s impact on the planet.

We’ve been working overtime ever since. The stacking of task on top of task takes its toll. No amount of…


How to use Google Docs to fight for social change. Forge is always trying to make our lives better, and this week, it released an incredible new resource that promises…


To march on a highway is to declare bravery in the face of danger — and an unwillingness to lose

Residence in America requires interaction with its vast network of highways. Yet the American highway system, born to defend against foreign military attacks and to transport commodities, is redundant. America and its highways are synonyms for each other; both narrative-based, costly, and destructive. This summer we’ve seen elected officials, and the judges they appoint, stretch every sense of the law to maintain white power structures, and we’ve seen how nervous they get when the people stretch our own power, moving from our streets to the highways. …


The new moral minority could take some lessons from the old Moral Majority

Isolated hands holding megaphones in different poses.
Isolated hands holding megaphones in different poses.

Remember the Moral Majority? Founded in 1979 by the legendary Southern Baptist minister and televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr., it was a group of religious leaders and conservative lawmakers that aimed to spread right wing Christian values across an increasingly secular (and, to their minds, increasingly depraved) nation. The group gained huge cultural and political influence during the Reagan administration and set the tone for American conservatism through most of the 1980s. Nationwide efforts to curtail sex education in public schools? The Moral Majority was there. Those famous campaigns to censor art and defund the NEA because it supported artists like…


I cried for George Floyd, but I couldn’t be out there for him

I’ve been glued to my phone for weeks. Since May, social media has given me 24-hour access to the protests over systemic racism. The barrage of camera footage and live feeds have bookmarked my Groundhog Day–esque shelter-in-place routine; these check-ins are as much a part of my day as brushing my teeth or tucking my kids into bed.

Watching the protests against police brutality day after day, I’m reminded of Dave Chappelle’s recent Netflix special 8:46. In the act, Chappelle shares gratitude for the African Americans out on the streets protesting police brutality and the eight minutes and 46 seconds


MEDIUM RARE

In this week’s digest of stories from the Medium Universe, writers are calling it quits on principle, and having no regrets

Each week on Medium Rare, I’ll be sharing stories you might have missed that are definitely worth a second look. Got a suggestion for a piece we should feature? Pop it in the responses below!

  • Following Betts’ resignation, fellow Master Sommelier Brian McClintic said he too…


I’m numb to the fact that my city is in ruins

I grew up about 25 miles outside of Minneapolis. As a kid, going into the city was an exciting and welcome change from the tree-lined monotony of the suburbs. But my childhood memories felt convoluted this week as I watched my city and a beloved neighborhood turn into a war zone. I attended my first preschool just blocks from where George Floyd was killed. My mom once worked at the Target store on Lake Street, which now sits in rubble. But the truth is, the area was in ruins long before Floyd’s killing.

When I was growing up, the neighborhoods…


What marks these protests is their longevity and camaraderie

In the last week, I have been party to a dozen or so eye flushes. It’s a simple act, using a water bottle to clear someone’s eyes of chemical irritants after they’ve been tear-gassed. The volume of eye flushes signals, for me, a rapid development in protesting — I performed only two eye flushes all of last year. There are people in my city (Columbus, Ohio) and likely in yours, too, who are attending their first protest and performing their first eye flush on the same day.

All across the U.S., protests are being organized. In the days since George…


A portrait of a modern family undone by the political zeitgeist

He may have been just 16, a sheltered bookworm from a conservative evangelical family, but when it came to public speaking, Matthew Mason had the poise of a veteran statesman. Captured on video addressing an appreciative crowd at a 2007 anti-abortion banquet at Chico State, he wears a black suit and wire-rimmed glasses. He paces the stage with practiced confidence, hitting his marks, making good eye contact, nailing his jokes, and then pausing with an easy grin to wait for the applause to subside. He has a story to tell, and he delivers it flawlessly.

It begins in 1990, when…

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