Tizon’s essay felt like one of those untangling moments and it’s terrible that he, who worked his entire career to help young journalists, won’t be around to see his work filter down and push everyone to be a bit more honest, unflinching and troubling in their own work.
Alex Tizon’s Brutal Honesty
Jay Caspian Kang

Definitely agree that Tizon left us an essay that should be read and considered by countless generations after him. But I disagree that this was a noble act of his, as if admitting the truth of Lola’s existence was an optional duty of his.

His family flat-out robbed this woman of her life and freedom. And they did so deliberately, through deception, and with excessive cruelty. And while Tizon could not be expected as a child to fight for her, he likely owes his career and life in America to her stolen labor. In 2011, 14 years after he had won a Pulitzer for Investigative Reporting, he had an opportunity to set things straight about Lola when she died. Not only did he fail to reveal the truth, he unnecessarily piled on more lies about her, to perpetuate the appearance of not just a free life, but a happily-lived life.

I’m grateful that The Atlantic chose to publish Tizon’s work, but this essay was among the least of things he and his family owed to Lola. This is not a case of “old-world sins” of the parents that can be ignored. These sins were deliberately brought to America, and they were front-and-center for the vast majority of Tizon’s life, because his parents used Lola to further their selfish pursuit of the American Dream.

It’s a low bar of honesty to expect a journalist whose career was made on exposing corrupt officials and inequity, to confront the slavery that he was directly complicit in.