Illustration: Katty Huertas for GEN

With his new book, the CNN anchor thinks he knows exactly how to reach them — by being who he’s always been

The first time I became aware of Don Lemon was on June 27, 2013, the day he agreed with Bill O’Reilly. Responding to remarks by President Obama about the recent murder of 17-year-old Travon Martin, O’Reilly had taken to his nightly show on Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, to argue that the “disintegration of the African-American family” is due to “violence” and “chaos” in Black communities. A few days later, on a segment of his CNN show he called “No Talking Points,” Lemon decided to re-play the tape from O’Reilly, a rant that MSNBC’s Chris Hayes had described as “super…

A governmental failure from top to bottom

Road closure in Fort Worth, Texas, after the winter storm caused a pipe to break.
Road closure in Fort Worth, Texas, after the winter storm caused a pipe to break.
Fort Worth Texas on February 18, 2021. Photo: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

First, it began with a deadly 135-car pileup in Fort Worth, Texas, and then everything quickly spiraled out of control. Last week, Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and several other states suffered from blackouts. Half a million people in the country did not have electricity, with Texas taking the lead in its cases, and in that same state, 14 million citizens have boiling water notices. Not only has climate change reared its ugly head again, but also the costs of the GOP backing a privatized power grid. An 11-year-old boy died after his mobile home lost power. Another almost ran out of…

Kristen Gray’s deportation is an internet fallout consequence, but further details attest to a bigger, more important story

A photo illustration of a beach view of Bali shattered like glass with a giant hole in the middle.
A photo illustration of a beach view of Bali shattered like glass with a giant hole in the middle.
Photo illustration, source: Nora Carol Photography, brainmaster/Getty Images

In 2019, Kristen Gray, a then Los Angeles-based graphic designer and creative consultant, was getting fed up with living in America. Just a year earlier, she was a tour manager when her stint abruptly ended and she says was not paid for her labor. Thrust back into the 9-to-5 life through short-lived tech gigs before freelancing, Gray was looking for a change. She, along with her partner Saundra Alexander, saved $15,000 to temporarily move to Bali to clear their heads. They had already vacationed there back in May 2019 and found other Black expats who were living lives of “ease”…

When the inauguration was underway last week, I admittedly was not as exuberant as my peers were, and I was beyond disappointed about it. There was nothing — not the gorgeous coats, wonderful performances, or historic swearing-in — that could make my spirit soar. Sure, I was relieved that Donald Trump would not be in office for the next four years, but I was depleted by the sheer cruelty that he and the rest of administration unleashed upon this country.

Back in November 2016 when the election was called, I knew I had to move out of my apartment because…

Photo illustration; image source: Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

An interview with the 96-year-old legendary actress about her new book

In her forward to Cicely Tyson’s memoir, Just As I Am, Viola Davis writes, “She is not just the performer who has so deftly captured the breadth of the human experience, with all of its unslicked edges. She is Cicely the woman, someone who has grappled with the fears and fragilities many of us carry.” How else can one encapsulate all that Tyson holds in her tiny yet formidable frame?

For eight decades, Cicely Tyson has captured our hearts and our dreams whether on the small screen in Roots or How to Get Away With Murder, the silver screen in…

Like any other person existing on the internet, I am a fan of podcasts. I listen to The Read, The Friend Zone, 90 Day Fiancé Cray Cray, and You’re Wrong About pretty much every week. But podcasting is a very White-male-dominated industry. Our ideas about narration, story arcs, rhythm, and cadence are influenced by those who are always seen as the standard for excellence and credibility.

Thankfully, however, there are Black and Brown people who are breaking the mold in this arena, particularly Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Hear to Slay. In her Medium piece about their joint podcast…

Writing

Know your characters, background detail, and story arc

Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

Writing a feature story can be intimidating because it’s different than a quick op-ed or personal essay. A feature story usually requires much more time-intensive research, fact-checking, and copyediting. It’s more ambitious in scope and longer in depth. But don’t freak out because I’ll discuss a few of the components here.

What I urge you to do is think about some of your favorite feature stories. Mine are “The Jungle Prince of New Delhi” by Ellen Barry, “Secrets of the South” by Kaitlyn Greenidge, or “The Price of Nice Nails” by Sarah Maslin Nir. As you can probably guess from…

I don’t know when’s the last time I experienced such a quick progression of emotions. I spent my morning crying tears of joy at the fact that Reverend Warnock snagged one of the senate seats for Georgia and by mid-afternoon, I could feel all the muscles in my body tighten as I watched terrorists break into the Capitol building. My nerves felt like they were on fire and I didn’t know how to calm down. I could’ve used my Headspace meditation app but history was transpiring and I didn’t want to turn away.

So what happened? I broke my Dry…

Sobriety after an attempted coup is just too much to ask

Photo: Grace Cary/Getty Images

I started my day crying tears of joy to my therapist about Democrats taking over the Senate and ended it watching a coup attempt in real time. As my heart raced and cortisol shot through my veins, the only thing I could think of was, “Damn, I need a drink.”

Like many other Americans, I’m trying my best to adhere to a Dry January. It’s a way to clean my corporeal slate and start the year off right. But the year isn’t starting off right. I can’t even celebrate Warnock and Ossoff’s wins because domestic terrorists erected a noose around…

They want to set the record straight on their fathers’ legacies and the ahistorical information

A vintage photo of Lillie Head with her father on her wedding day. She is wearing her wedding dress.
A vintage photo of Lillie Head with her father on her wedding day. She is wearing her wedding dress.
Lillie Head with her father Freddie Lee Tyson. Photos courtesy of Lillie.

Though two Covid-19 vaccines have been approved for distribution, it’s been a touchy subject — and a fertile ground for conspiracy theories — about whether or not the vaccine is safe for Black people. One of the parallels that Black social media users have referred to is the Syphilis Study at Tuskegee University.

From 1932 to 1972, the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) began working at Tuskegee University to study syphilis. The study, which initially involved 600 Black men (399 with the disease and 201 without), was conducted without these men’s consent or having informed them of the purpose…

Morgan Jerkins

Morgan Jerkins is the Senior Editor at ZORA and a New York Times bestselling author. Her debut novel, “Caul Baby,” will be published by Harper in April 2021.

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