CHICAGO -- It's both the greatest social-justice opportunity and the worst privacy-gutting curse of our times: a high-powered video camera in nearly every human hand.
It's up to us to know how to use it as a tool instead of a weapon.
A few weeks ago, a young woman graciously agreed to switch seats on an airplane with a fellow traveler named ...Read more
CHICAGO -- Let's say you're the president of the United States and want to keep the country safe. But data from the Department of Defense shows that a stunning 71 percent of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are unable to join the military because they are too overweight, are poorly educated or have a record of crime or drug abuse.
But ...Read more
CHICAGO -- It's been just a few weeks since the nationwide uproar over the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border, yet it feels like the issue is already slipping from people's radar.
That's partly because the initial media coverage and subsequent protest rallies and outrage -- spurred by images of immigrant children sleeping in cages...Read more
OSAKA, Japan -- After one day in the land of the rising sun, I had anxiety nightmares that my husband diagnosed as a reaction to visiting a country with a language I couldn't speak or read.
Truth be told, Japan is incredibly easy for visitors to navigate, with most train, bus and public announcements presented in both Japanese and English. But ...Read more
CHICAGO -- Some people just don't "get" poetry. The emotions, the wisdom and the quietude of a select group of words carefully curated to evoke a memory or forge a vision can be too abstract for a more analytical, linear thinker.
I'm not proud of it, mind you. I just never got into whatever groove is necessary to get past the heady,...Read more
CHICAGO -- Now that the elementary-school textbooks, backpacks and lunchboxes have been stowed away across the country, it's time to get to work.
Indeed, it's the summer slide season -- the time when students, especially low-income ones, lose some of the academic gains they made during the school year because they're hanging out at home, not ...Read more
CHICAGO -- Three years ago, I inadvertently landed on a YouTube episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," and my heart stopped when I heard the bells introducing the theme music. When Rogers started singing his signature greeting, I burst into tears.
Last week, at a screening of "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" -- the new documentary of Fred Rogers ...Read more
CHICAGO -- News about the end of chef Anthony Bourdain's simultaneously hardscrabble and charmed life reminded me of the passion with which he talked about Central and South American kitchen workers.
"A three-star Italian chef pal of mine ... greatly prefers Ecuadoreans, as many chefs do," said Bourdain in the audiobook version of his best-...Read more
CHICAGO -- Ever dreamed about living in a town with an incredible music scene, a vast array of food trucks and tons of dog parks? The sort of place you could maybe afford with the help of an app-based side hustle in which you kill bloodthirsty psychic beasts from another world?
Boy, do I have a podcast for you!
It's called "Bubble," and it ...Read more
CHICAGO -- A popular theory of social science says that children of highly educated, professional parents hear about 30 million more words by age 4 than do the children of low-income parents with less formal education.
This, the theory goes, leads to inequality over a lifetime. Children enter school with very different levels of language ...Read more
CHICAGO -- The summer before his freshman year of college, David Hernandez got a notice from the University of California asking him for a housing deposit he had no idea was due.
Hernandez -- the first in his family to attend college -- was oblivious to the fact that, as a minority student on financial aid, he had access to more affordable ...Read more
CHICAGO -- Why does the United States hate children so much?
We clearly don't care enough about them to reform lax gun laws or commit money for more social workers, after-school programs and other support systems to prevent kids from slaughtering their classmates on campus.
And when it comes to immigrant children, we're getting about as close ...Read more
CHICAGO -- I've never seen a dog whistle in real life or known people who used the training tool with their pets, but I do know its purpose: to emit a sound in a range that cannot be heard by humans but is recognized by our four-legged friends. This is why the term "dog whistle" is so often used in the political sphere: a politician uses certain...Read more
CHICAGO -- The recent rash of videos showing white people lashing out against blacks and Hispanics isn't just because everyone is carrying around an internet-connected camera in their pocket.
While there has always been plenty of racism in this country -- including well-documented discrimination in everything from housing to employment -- the ...Read more
CHICAGO -- The allegations of sexual harassment against star author and critical darling Junot Diaz have now generated backlash, making this a good time to look at how the story developed and continues to cause rifts within the Latino community.
Diaz's confessional essay, "The Legacy of Childhood Trauma," was published in The New Yorker in mid-...Read more
CHICAGO -- The lore about the United States is that we're a nation of immigrants. But what the textbooks gloss over is that for as long as there have been immigrants in the U.S., there have also been immigrant haters.
And though it is often portrayed as the lower classes -- those who compete for unskilled labor jobs -- who have the most enmity ...Read more
CHICAGO -- I'm scratching behind my ear, the back of my knee and the top of my foot. Elbow, middle-of-the-back, under the chin ... no spot is safe from my mind's ability to "feel" ticks crawling on my skin.
Is it because of this now-viral tweet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Ticks can be the size of a poppy seed. Can you ...Read more
CHICAGO -- Parents of children born before the Columbine school shooting all share a baseline point of view: Our most pressing concerns about our kids' futures revolved around the usual stuff like whether they'd need expensive braces, have a fun time in high school or eventually get a decent job.
Never in a million years did I think I'd soon be...Read more
CHICAGO -- There's an old saw in journalism that when a dog bites a man, it's just another thing that happened. But when a man bites a dog, well, that's news.
"Criminal illegal immigrants" are a modern-day version of that adage.
A large segment of America refuses to accept that legal immigrants, naturalized citizens and other lawfully present ...Read more
CHICAGO -- We usually watch movies to be entertained and documentaries to understand people or issues. The new Netflix original documentary about Rachel Dolezal -- the former president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP who was outed as Caucasian in 2015 -- turns this calculation on its head.
"The Rachel Divide," directed by Laura Brownson, ...Read more