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Here's the best stuff I wrote in 2018

Links & short blurbs.

I had a solid year, reporting wise. But, I have struggled seeing much of my work as "good" since I write about some awful things. This list is my attempt to find the silver lining in the fact that at least somebody wrote about these things. (Fwiw, I made sure to include some good stuff too!)


  1. My reporting on air pollution in Orlando is one of the best pieces I’ve written this year but also one of the saddest. While I am glad that I was able to shed light on what was going on in Parramore — a historically black neighborhood that has been subjugated to environmental racism for decades — a source passed away from breathing-related health issues before we published. That shit broke my heart.

    (Photo credit: David Lohr/Chris McGonigal/HuffPost)


  2. I went to dinner with Rose Gunter, the niece of Recy Taylor, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman and five other women. I was enthralled by how little Gunter had to say throughout our conversations about President Donald Trump, racism, sexism and violence against women. When I asked her for her thoughts on the topics at hand, she simply shrugged and told me she didn’t have anything to say. So I wrote about how, sometimes, a black woman's silence is the loudest statement she can make. (Have you’ve ever had a black woman be so pissed at you that she had nothing to say? That silence will shake you to your core.)

    (Photo Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)


  3. I interviewed Minnijean Brown Trickey, a member of the Little Rock 9, about the "paid agitator" smear thrown at survivors of the Parkland shooting. The idea that someone is being paid to disrupt the status quo dates back at least to Reconstruction when formerly enslaved Africans testified about their experiences in front of Congress. They were accused of lying and being paid to do so. But the Republicans were just paying for their travel expenses since many couldn’t afford to travel to Washington. Below is a newspaper clipping where the smear was thrown at Elizabeth Eckford, another member of the Little Rock 9.

    (Photo Credit: Screenshot/Newspapers.com)


  4. Here's a good thing: Taryn Finley and I launched "Run That Back," our series about black television, music, film and culture. We’ve been working on advancing the series from a Slack chat into something greater and I'm excited to see what 2019 has in store for us! My favorite chat is the one we did for the Teddy Perkins episode of “Atlanta.”

    (Photo Credit: FX Networks)


  5. Another good thing: I put my cape on for Kendrick Lamar after he won a Pulitzer for “DAMN.” Because Lamar isn’t “bound to regressive notions of journalistic objectivity, [his] work achieves something most reporters can’t: It speaks from the prerogative of black communities facing oppression and directly attacks the institutions responsible for their pain.” And that is honestly what all journalism should aspire to do.

    (Photo Credit: Robyn Beck via Getty Images)


  6. After Rashon Nelson & Donte Robinson were profiled in a Philly Starbucks, I shared a similar story in a Twitter thread. When I was 8-years-old, I was followed in a store by a white clerk. I hadn’t noticed but my great-grandmother did. She dragged me out of the store and explained to me that my blackness had consequences beyond my control. This experience forever shaped how I conduct myself in retail spaces. Readers had similar stories. I published them.

    (Photo Credit: Lorenzo Bevilaqua via Getty Images)


  7. I interviewed David Pilgrim about the historical references in Childish Gambino's viral “This Is America” video. Pilgrim called the video a “harsh indictment of indifference,” which is stunningly on the nose. We chatted about the video’s nods to Thomas Rice, the original Jim Crow, allusions to gun and police violence against black Americans and more.

    (Photo Credit: Screenshot/Youtube via Childish Gambino)


  8. I said goodbye to Kanye West and his music. This piece required a great deal of self-reflection. I had to address the many ways in which I had let Kanye slide so that I could remain an avid fan. This is my favorite piece from 2018. It pushed me to trust my analysis and to stop worrying about potential backlash to a story. That lesson came just in time, too, because the Ye stans raked me over the coals for this one.

    (Photo Credit: Mark Metcalfe via Getty Images)


  9. I wrote about Gucci Mane's Instagram and the joy it brings into my life. His carefully curated feed is a celebration of how far he's come — and if you know anything about Guwop, you know that he’s come further than most. His glow up is truly unmatched. He spent three years in an Indiana federal penitentiary for illegally possessing a firearm. He walked out drug-free and 50 pounds lighter with a bright white smile where his signature mouth full of golds once were. It’s inspiring.

    (Photo Credit: Paras Griffin via Getty Images)


  10. I profiled Andrew Gillum, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor of Florida. I saw his campaign as an exercise in recasting populism in a black idiom. He, in many ways, reminded me of the black folks I had grown up around. And, as a black southerner who was also raised by a grandparent, it wasn’t difficult for me to grasp his politics:

    During my day following him around Tallahassee, I realized something about Gillum. He is black black. He is openly and proudly black in a way rarely seen in politics, which tend to prefer a blackness that’s been modulated by white institutions. He grew up poor in South Miami-Dade County. He has multiple family members who have cycled through the criminal justice system. He attended a historically black university. He’s black in the big things and the small ones. At a Congressional Black Caucus Week forum in September, I noticed him pointing at his interlocutor and popping his hand back — black semaphore for “I heard what you said, and I agree.” He frequently employs African-American vernacular in a natural way. It’s not an empty attempt to connect with black voters who aren’t black like he is. It’s just how he talks. And while blackness is by no means a monolith, Gillum represents a kind of blackness that is commonplace in black life and basically nonexistent in high-level American politics.

    (Photo Credit: Willie J. Allen Jr. For HuffPost)

What it's like to run for office while black

A lot of stories and updates are in this one.

Y’all know I don’t have much to say in these newsletters. But today I want to introduce you to an extension of Julia The Reporter — Julia The Food Blogger. I’ve been on a health journey for about 2 years now. And, after some pushing from friends, I decided to start a real blog instead of just using Instagram. (You’ll still get the best updates on IG though so, if you want, you can follow me: @plantbasedwisdom).

Anyway, I say all of this to say that “bruh” will now be a place where I share my reporting and my food blog posts with you! The formatting is a little different — and I’m still playing around with what I want this to look like — but I still won’t blow your inbox up. You’ll hear from me when you hear from me.

Now, let’s get into the #content.

Appetizer

Check out my blog’s homepage, which includes my mission statement. It’s a deeply personal piece of writing that explains why I’m on this health journey and why I decided to share my success and failures with the world. You can sip on my favorite smoothie recipe ever, a seasonal Pumpkin Spice Smoothie, while you do. It’s full of veggies but it tastes like your favorite latte.

Main Entrée

I’ve recently gotten back into politics reporting. I wrote a piece about three gubernatorial candidates and a discussion they had during CBC week about running for office while black. It was an eye-opening conversation — especially in a country where most political candidates are white men — but the most compelling narrative centered around the careful calibration required of them in responding to racist attacks.

“We have to talk about this … but at the same time try to hold our people,” said [Andrew] Gillum, picking up where [Stacey] Abrams left off. He noted that he never dismisses the role of race in America, and that in politics “it feels like it’s on steroids.” But Gillum can go only so far in talking about it.

“It’s a line you can’t cross in calling it out because then you call the race card, or you pandered in some way or you’re trying to send some secret signal to somebody,” he said. “Well, so far in my race, it seems that my opponent and some of his friends are the only ones trying to send secret signals. But they’re not so secret.”

Within days after winning the Democratic primary, the racist attacks on Gillum heighted. On Aug. 29, his opponent Rob DeSantis told Floridians not to “monkey this up” by electing Gillum, before going on to refer to him as “articulate.” The next day, robocalls linked to a neo-Nazi group in Idaho began targeting Gillum as well.

When you’re done sitting with that, you can move over to my latest blog: My Morning And Night Routine. A lot of my IG followers have asked me how I get so much done during the day — including writing, working out and cooking all the fancy looking stuff I eat. Well, I finally did a post about it!

I also have a dope FAQ on meal prepping that goes more in-depth into how I have mastered the art of only spending two hours a week cooking and preparing for approx. 15 meals. I share tips for saving money on healthy foods, staying consistent and integrating new “white people foods” — don’t front, if you follow me you know what that means — into your diet.

Dessert

You can get into this piece about why I love Gucci Mane’s Instagram. Or you can immerse yourself in #RunThatBack, a series about black pop culture that I co-host with my amazing colleague Taryn Finley. The latest editions pertain to Season 3 of HBO’s “Insecure.” You can read either one of these while you enjoy some yummy homemade vegan ice cream (I love adding peanut butter to my batches!)

Coming soon

Substack is a platform for email newsletters. The author of this publication will no doubt be publishing their first edition soon. In the meantime, you can find out more about Substack at substack.com

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