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

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

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