March 31, 2022
A Special Note From Our Editors

Greetings from co-editors in chief, Deborah D. Douglas and Amber Payne. We’ve spent the last nine months working hard on reimagining the nation’s first abolitionist newspaper for the digital age. We’ve been reading some of the original editions of The Emancipator and thinking about how abolition required a rejection of certain reforms, compromises, and moderacy to achieve emancipation.  
Our country is polarized, gripped by a perilous lack of historical context that threatens the gains we have made toward creating an inclusive society. But if we look at the continuum of progress, and fallbacks, too, we are encouraged that the challenges we face represent a moment in time. And in this moment, we have a chance to power up a paradigm shift as we build an antiracist newsroom from the ground up. 
This stirring poem from Langston Hughes has stuck with us through this process. The idea of progress being so close, within our grasp, only to suddenly vanish in the distance. 
We know our work is critical; we aim to dissect and decode the structural underpinnings of, and alternatives to, White supremacy, which endangers us all. Through our commentary-forward platform, we can amplify the best ideas and expert voices on interrogating how we can dismantle racist policies, institutions, and norms, and replace them with authentically and comprehensively inclusive ones. When we know better, we can do better.

We believe good journalism can change the conversation and soon enough, change the world. 

Associated Press image of Payne and Douglas by Charles Krupa.
In these last nine months we’ve rebranded, gotten to know a number of community groups and organizations in Boston, developed our mission and vision. We’ve hired a social media director to guide us on making meaningful connections with audiences that rely on these platforms for the complete story, attended, hosted, and moderated meetups and talks across the nation, and built relationships with a network of contributors. 

Many of you took some time for our first subscriber survey last summer. Thank you! We learned so much about your commitment to accelerating racial justice and social change, and the kinds of topics you want to see. If you have a few minutes, we’d love it if you participated in our next survey here.
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We’re excited to share that we plan to launch in late April with a series on the Black wealth gap, anchored by our lead columnist, Kimberly Atkins Stohr. Kim will dissect the structural inequities present in four different aspects of the wealth gap and point to solutions. (Because what’s the point in talking about the problems without figuring out the fix?)  

Stay tuned for invites to our first event series, which will include a discussion on cryptocurrency and equity, and a workshop on How to Build Wealth Through Your 9-to-5, hosted by career coach Mandi Woodruff-Santos.
What we've been reading/watching/doing

Watching a power play Down South where the Tennessee Comptroller wrote to the 1,337 property owners in the tiny, majority-Black town of Mason (where residents include descendants of enslaved there before Emancipation), asking them to give up their right to actually be a town and self-govern. This comes just when the local economy is about to get a big boost from Ford Motor Co.’s new 4,100-acre electric truck and battery plant. 

“In my opinion, it’s time for Mason to relinquish its charter,” Comptroller Jason Mumpower wrote to residents, citing the town’s history of financial mismanagement. 
That part is true, according to Tennessee Lookout, which broke the story of this power grab: In 2016, “fraud and mismanagement allegations led to the resignations of nearly all City Hall officials, all of whom were White.” Today’s town leadership is largely part-time and all Black.

Charlane Oliver, co-founder of The Equity Alliance adds perspective in her Tennessee Lookout commentary:
“The way our state bullies Black leaders is rooted in this notion that we are incapable and incompetent of managing million dollar budgets, negotiating deals, leading institutions, and knowing what’s best for our people. Institutionalized racism and authoritarianism is running rampant.”

Bridgerton. Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury, Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma in episode 201 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022
These are some of our favorite things

1. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. 

2. HBO’s “The Gilded Age” America’s story told inclusively, with style.

3. Shonda Rhimes’ “Bridgerton,” because the Sharma ladies are exquisite, and historically accurate or not, it’s just great to see all kinds of people reflected on screen. 

4. Jabari Asim’s latest, “Yonder: A Novel,” because Black love wins.

In honor of those who came before ...

We dedicate this issue to journalist and civil rights pioneer William Monroe Trotter, whose 150th birthday will be celebrated during a national two-day free hybrid event hosted by the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at Harvard Kennedy School. “Reimagining Our Radical Roots: A Global Classroom of Citizen Activism” will take place April 7-8. Visit Trotter Collaborative. Be sure to check out the definitive book on Trotter by Dr. Kerri K. Greenidge: Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter (Liveright, 2019). 

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