The Friday Definer is Define American’s weekly roundup of stories that paint a fuller picture of what it means to be an American in the 21st century. Share these stories with a friend!
Skin color, strength, and beauty
KING: …And I bet when you walk into a room or walk through an airport, there are so many women looking at you and thinking, God, I wish I looked like her. What is it like to be that pretty (laughter)?
NYONG’O: (Laughter) It feels really good.
KING: Yeah? (Laughter).
NYONG’O: It feels really, really great. You know, I think about it. And I’ve honestly been considered beautiful on this earth longer than I have felt or been considered un-beautiful. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
But also, I find a lot of gratitude in my first years on this planet because having to identify, or having to not rely on how I look like to seduce, or to get by in life, really meant that I had to cultivate other aspects of myself, my personality, my character, and get a sense of self-worth from something other than people complimenting what I look like. And now, after that, I relish in the compliment. But I do know that external beauty will fade. And hopefully, I have cultivated and I continue to cultivate enough internal beauty to sustain me through the years when I am not such a hot pick.
What are any of us trying to find?
“What was Francisco Vázquez de Coronado trying to find in the southwestern part of the U.S.?” wonders Niyonshuti Claude, a 16-year-old sophomore at Canyon Ridge High School in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Still, despite America’s changing political climate, Claude has begun to feel at home in Twin Falls. He now has a part-time job busing tables at a local restaurant, and he excels at math — so much so that Cottle enlisted him as a student mentor to help with her thrice-weekly tutoring sessions for refugee students at Canyon Ridge High School. When Claude graduates, he hopes to become a contractor, building houses and schools. And he wants to stay in Twin Falls, which has what he values more than anything: peace.
Sarah Tory’s Refugees look for belonging in Idaho, in High Country News.
Salaam, the latest video game from Junub Games
[Lual] Mayen was born into war, but his mission is peace. And the journey that began his life has stretched in an almost unfathomable direction. Now 24 years old, he is a video game developer residing in the United States, leading his own company and using the experiences from his past to inform his products: games aimed at peace-building and conflict resolution.
“That’s the thing in life,” Mayen says. “If you’re going through something hard and you survive, the next thing is, how do you come out of that? How do you utilize that opportunity to make your life better?”
Alex Andrejev in Washington Post.
Lauren Ko of @lokokitchen continues her instagram series on the pies of our lives. See them all.
Dominique: For me, when I think of American culture I think of African-American culture. I think of loud, vaguely-legal block parties, and 9-year-old me running through open fire hydrants. I think of late night barbeques with strangers-turned-family in Rockaway Beach, where I’m from. For me, African-American culture is rooted in building communities with endless support. I’m really lucky to have grown up in that.
View this post on Instagram
A new guide for journalists of color to level up their careers and their newsrooms:
You’ve told your boss so many times that diversity is important but it just doesn’t seem to sink in. Let us help you with your argument.
Journalists of color do a lot of invisible labor.
We encourage our friends to ask for a higher salary. We meet our colleagues for lunch to find a way to make our managers care about having a diverse staff. We check each other’s data work, refine each other’s pitches, and trade sources so that we may have a chance to get a story about minority populations approved in our newsrooms.
This is the kind of work that informal networks of journalists of color do to improve both their newsrooms and the careers of their peers.
Big B Black
Small changes to language and grammar can really change the way we see each other, argues George M. Johnson in his thoughtful take on whether “Black” should be capitalized when referring to people.
For Black folks, taking back the power of our narrative has rested heavily on language. Whether we are reclaiming the N-word or enforcing the capitalization of the ‘B’ in Black, it should be our right to own these terms despite standard guidelines used in the media and anywhere else we’re represented or spoken about to the masses.
Johnson gives a solid nod to The New York Times’ 1619 Project (which we also love) and to Nikole Hannah-Jones, who produced a special internal style guide for 1619. The “b” in the Times remains small.
When I was in college I always capitalized the b in when referring to black Americans. As a professional journalist I bowed to traditional style, but at the same time I refuse to use African-American because I think black speaks both to a race and a politics and is more powerful. pic.twitter.com/OJplI57mzw
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) October 11, 2019
Brookings started to capitalize “Black” this year and blogged about why. Our internal style on capitalizing race is mixed… What do Friday Definers think? Tweet at us @DefineAmerican #FridayDefiner!