A2A Long Reads | 12.18.17
Welcome to another A2A Long Reads, a weekly roundup of the most in-depth and thought-provoking longform journalism pieces (according to me, of course). This week’s long reads are courtesy of NPR, The Deep Magazine, Huffington Post Highline, The Guardian and London Free Press.
Thirty-six-year-old Shalon Irving spent most of her career trying to understand how inequality and inequity contribute to poor health. Highly educated, financially stable and surrounded by supportive family and friends, she is exactly the type of person who should have benefited from the very privilege the healthcare system affords to the elite few. But just three weeks after giving birth to her first child, Shalon collapsed and died. Her tragic story would explain why so many black mothers in America die after childbirth.
An excerpt from this long read: The fact that someone with Shalon’s social and economic advantages is at higher risk highlights how profound the inequities really are, said Raegan McDonald-Mosley, the chief medical director for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who met her in graduate school at Johns Hopkins University and was one of her closest friends. “It tells you that you can’t educate your way out of this problem. You can’t health care-access your way out of this problem. There’s something inherently wrong with the system that’s not valuing the lives of black women equally to white women.”
The question of whether pregnant women should be in prison is one that’s both controversial and complex. A pregnancy is often a stressful time for a woman, without the added discomfort and challenge of being behind bars. For Bianca Lynn Mercer, the realities of being pregnant while in prison is one she knows all too well. This isn’t simply her story of survival – it’s also a story of how the corrections system failed her and the advocacy group that came to her rescue.
An excerpt from this long read: That night, she says, she was sent back to solitary, continued punishment for the incident the previous day. As guards led her into the cell, she demanded to see the captain on duty. They closed the door on her, and she was alone, back in that room, in the heat, under that light. “I shouldn’t be down here!” she screamed.
Oh, Gen Z. The group of unfortunate souls who’ve taken on at least 300% more student debt than their parents and who are the first generation in modern history to end up poorer than their parents. In perhaps the most millennial way possible, Huffington Post Highline breaks down just how screwed this demographic really is.
An excerpt from this long read: This is why the touchstone experience of millennials, the thing that truly defines us, is not helicopter parenting or unpaid internships or Pokémon Go. It is uncertainty. “Some days I breathe and it feels like something is about to burst out of my chest,” says Jimmi Matsinger. “I’m 25 and I’m still in the same place I was when I earned minimum wage.” Four days a week she works at a dental office, Fridays she nannies, weekends she babysits. And still she couldn’t keep up with her rent, car lease and student loans. Earlier this year she had to borrow money to file for bankruptcy. I heard the same walls-closing-in anxiety from millennials around the country and across the income scale, from cashiers in Detroit to nurses in Seattle.
Philip Alston, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has traveled the world to some of the its poorest countries to document how governments have failed their citizens. This time however, he’s traveling to the richest nation in the world, America, where a staggering 41 million people live in poverty. The Guardian follows Alston on his mission as he uncovers “the dark side of the American dream.”
An excerpt from this long read: There are numerous ways you could parse the present parlous state of Alabama’s black community. Perhaps the starkest is the fact that in the Black Belt so many families still have no access to sanitation. Thousands of people continue to live among open sewers of the sort normally associated with the developing world. The crisis was revealed by the Guardian earlier this year to have led to an ongoing endemic of hookworm, an intestinal parasite that is transmitted through human waste. It is found in Africa and South Asia, but had been assumed eradicated in the US years ago. Yet here the worm still is, sucking the blood of poor people, in the home state of Trump’s US attorney general Jeff Sessions.
Canada’s busiest highway, Highway 401, seldom shows any mercy to its victims. But on the night of Feb. 12, 2017, the unexpected and the unremarkable would coalesce, making way for the miraculous. This seven-part series is the story of Ashlyn Krell’s 27-minute death and the emergency crews and first responders who worked tirelessly to bring her back to life.
An excerpt from this long read: At the end of the line, passing the board up the ditch to the paramedics, was Reintjes. Ashlyn’s coat hood was covering her face. He pulled it back. She had a “fixed stare,” he said. “She is pale as can be, lips are blue . . . and her hair is all wet, mud on her.” He’d seen that look before in years of policing and on military battlefields. “I said to somebody, ‘She’s gone.’”
These are the week’s best long reads According to Adrienne. If you’ve got a piece you think I’d be interested in, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.