Education is meant to eliminate power hierarchies, not strengthen them.

The first time I started drafting this newsletter I did this thing where I spent two paragraphs talking about the various kinds of labor — at home, in school, in clinics and boring day jobs and extracurriculars — I performed as a teenager. This was intended to prove how hard I worked in high school, to suggest the possibility that I earned a spot at Harvard. It was not productive, and it was very annoying. All you really need to know is that my parents also went to Harvard, and that’s probably why I got in.

I suppose it was…

They just happen to be our friends, too.

Natalie and I started Token to celebrate and share the work, worth, and perspectives of women of color. Many of these women are famous on some level, in general or within their respective fields. If you saw the excited, fangirly texts between us when one of the women we feature likes a tweet or a post (Lena Waithe?!?!?!?!), you’d realize that our motivation is aspirational, too. These aren’t just women we admire, but also women we hope to emulate in their success and influence.

But some of the most inspirational women in our lives aren’t the rich and famous; they’re…

Politics: Can’t live with ’em, might literally die without ‘em!!!

There’s a reason why women, and particularly women of color, are super political as of late: Our lives literally depend on it. [Photo by Capturing the human heart. on Unsplash]

You know those friends you have (or had) who “just aren’t into politics?” I bet there’s something that most of them have in common. I shan’t say it because, if you’re subscribed to this newsletter or read any of them at all, you can probably guess what it is.

To some people, I’m sure that being ‘into politics” seems like a hobby, like woodworking, or making memes. And sure, for the rest of us, “being into politics” could be a hobby, if breathing or going to the bathroom was a hobby. …

The Kavanaugh hearings weren’t about whether or not he sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. They were about whether men can and should be held accountable for their actions.

When I was a senior in college, I was supposed to go home with my then-boyfriend for Thanksgiving. His parents rescinded their invitation at the last minute, and I couldn’t afford a flight home on short notice. Not only was I wary of the reasons why I wasn’t allowed to go home with him — was his (white) family racist? Did they not like me? — but I also couldn’t believe my boyfriend would put me in that position.

Upset by the rejection and by the prospect of spending the holiday alone, I called my dad to vent. …

You have some in your teeth.

I’d like you to examine your typical reaction to being told you have salad in your teeth. We’re lucky enough to interact with enough people on a daily basis that the chances of being saved are high. Someone will gently point it out to you to spare you future personal and professional embarrassment, that “oh god, how long has it been there” moment in front of the mirror however many hours after you’ve actually finished your sad desk salad.

My reaction tends to be a combination of fleeting embarrassment, misplaced apology, and eventual gratitude to the salad whistleblower. Light relief…

Photo by Force Majeure on Unsplash

Black women’s hair is proof that the personal is absolutely political.

I don’t fly often. But when I do, I pride myself on my airport-security-line efficiency. I slip my laptop, shoes, and liquids into bins. I wait attentively for a TSA agent to wave me through the body scanner. And when I step out, I brace myself for a hair search, where an agent’s gloved hands pat the top and sides of my head, wriggle my ponytail, and feel under whichever style I happened to choose that day. Then I go on my way.

This spring was the first time I learned that this hair search was disproportionately practiced on black…

For many people of color, the diaspora has made “home” complicated.

I was born in Brooklyn in the 90s. When I was just over a year old, my family relocated to Hong Kong; five years later, to Singapore. Another five passed and we moved to Seattle, and when I was 18 I moved to Boston for college. Two days after I graduated, I moved with two suitcases to Brooklyn, which I told people was full circle, except for the fact that I’ve moved apartments every year since I started living here, and the neighborhood where my parents squeezed four people into two rooms is now unrecognizable to them. …

The Fourth Estate is a gripping documentary about The New York Times’ relentless pursuit of truth. But in their homogenous newsroom — and in similar newsrooms across the country — whose version of the truth matters?

The first and only woman of color featured in The Fourth Estate, Showtime’s four-part documentary about The New York Times, appears halfway through the series. The episode opens with footage from last fall’s Nazi violence in Charlottesville, then cuts between D*nald Tr*mp’s infamous “both sides” speech and the reactions of shocked reporters in the Times’ Washington bureau. One (white, male) reporter cups his face in his hands; another (white, male) reporter squints with skepticism. …

Foodie culture excludes the people who have made it possible: women of color.

You know what I’m really sick of? Shows about men talking about food. Anthony Bourdain is fine, but I’m kind of tired of watching him be bad at hunting and ask other men for their opinions about food. David Chang throws fits when his restaurants don’t get reviewed hyper-positively (and why weren’t there more women in Ugly Delicious?). Gordon Ramsay is abusive and bigoted and Mario Batali is a human shitstain. Also, this is what comes up when you Google “American chef”:

Love isn’t blind. And for black women, it can feel out of reach.

Wedding season is canceled. Or it should be, because how could anyone top Prince Harry and Meghan’s royal wedding? They looked fantastic, the reception was apparently the party of the year, and perhaps most notably, the ceremony celebrated Meghan’s African-American heritage in a robust fashion. In short, it was a dream wedding. But for many black women, the royal pageantry isn’t what made the wedding feel like a far-off fantasy; it’s the idea of getting married at all that can feel like a fairytale.

The overall share in married adults has steadily declined over the past 50-ish years, and black…


Token is a project from Ari Curtis and Natalie Chang, celebrating the work and worth of women of color.

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