My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK

The fourth time a Poughkeepsie police officer told me that my Vassar College Faculty ID could make everything OK was three years ago. I was driving down Wilbur Avenue. When the white police officer, whose head was way too small for his neck, asked if my truck was stolen, I laughed, said no, and shamefully showed him… » 11/29/14 5:47pm 11/29/14 5:47pm

The Door Between Things

A few years ago, I stood outside of my ex-boyfriend Billy's house. I was there for the second time that day, this time to take him to an appointment he had with his psychiatrist. It was an unusually sunny day for a Seattle February and I hadn't thought to wear sunglasses because it's not often that you need them… » 8/02/14 9:12pm 8/02/14 9:12pm

When God Grabs You By the Balls

I'm not a doctor but I'm an expert. In the locker room, guys exchange a wealth of age-old wisdom. A couple of times, I reset broken noses. Usually my own, but once my friend Gabriel was in bed with my friend Josephine and accidentally kneed her, and I reset her broken nose. She's still complaining, but it would… » 6/01/14 8:50pm 6/01/14 8:50pm

Can Writing Be Assessed? A Five-Paragraph Essay

The New York Times had yet another of its delightful "Room for Debate" sessions, in which various experts throw quick-take opinions on a subject past one another. The subject: Was the College Board right to have decided to make the essay portion of future SAT tests optional? Or, more broadly, "Can Writing Be Assessed? » 3/11/14 2:26pm 3/11/14 2:26pm

​Inside My Shopping Cart: Food, Culture and Geographic Yearning

I am in the kitchen of the house I grew up in, holding a head of cabbage stable on the cutting board with both hands, while my mother thrusts a cleaver into it, slicing it in half. The leaves are densely packed in a squiggle of translucent white and green. She hands the knife to me, instructing me to cut the… » 12/15/13 10:39am 12/15/13 10:39am

Two Years Ago, I Saw a Sad Black Boy Named Donald Glover

What train do you want to take? my date asks. I don’t answer, because I have no idea where we are. It's Halloween 2011 and we're going to Brooklyn Bowl to see Donald Glover, the writer/actor/comedian touring the country with his buzzy new album, Camp. I am told that Donald performs under the computer generated rap… » 12/07/13 6:42pm 12/07/13 6:42pm

On Smarm

Last month, Isaac Fitzgerald, the newly hired editor of BuzzFeed's newly created books section, made a remarkable but not entirely surprising announcement: He was not interested in publishing negative book reviews. In place of "the scathing takedown rip," Fitzgerald said, he desired to promote a positive community… » 12/05/13 9:33am 12/05/13 9:33am

The Remarkable Tale of Hunter, the Real-Life Rescue Dog

Wives and husbands come and go, children leave, friends fade into abstractions on Facebook. The dog is generally there for life, all of his or all of yours, whichever comes first. Hunter, who died Sunday night at home and surrounded by his people, was there for life. It was really his second life, which began when I… » 11/19/13 12:52pm 11/19/13 12:52pm

Black Girl Walking

It was exactly two weeks ago today that I first heard of Renisha McBride. I read half the story—the 19-year-old African American girl, shot in the face by a 54-year-old white man, after she'd been in a car accident, walked down the road, and knocked on his door seeking help—and dutifully posted it to the hate crimes… » 11/16/13 12:22pm 11/16/13 12:22pm

Bored of Whoredom

Spirits, alcoholic ones, have their way of sinking their depressive tendrils deep inside, drawing up everything we keep locked away. My man and I spent the night apart, out and about Brooklyn. We lace fingers and make our way home, bellies full of fried food and spirits. He falls asleep soundly, peacefully. » 11/02/13 1:04pm 11/02/13 1:04pm

Those Calls Had Come Before: An American Love Story

I chose to write about sisters because that’s the only story that is mine, the only story I have any right to tell. » 10/05/13 3:11pm 10/05/13 3:11pm

Where Real Kids and Real Teachers Can Only Dream of Real Education

A. At a conference called "Making Language Arts More Relevant," I sit listening to the keynote speaker talk to us about how high school graduates don’t know how to capitalize the first words of sentences. This woman is the director of human resources at a cybersecurity firm located near the high school where I teach.… » 9/29/13 11:54am 9/29/13 11:54am

A Letter in Reply: Dear Mychal, Darnell, Kiese, Kai, and Marlon

I've read the previous essays you've written for Gawker's True Stories series and I just read your collective piece, “Echo” in Kiese’s new book, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. I heard, and really felt, the sinew of pain and joy in your autobiographical offerings and would like to respond with my… » 9/21/13 12:50pm 9/21/13 12:50pm

Dear Khary (An Autobiography of Gentrification),


Last I saw you, you were stamping a kiss onto my forehead. I don't remember what you were wearing, or your smell. Only that you gave me a kiss the night before you left. That was twenty-three years ago. I was five. » 9/01/13 12:28pm 9/01/13 12:28pm