We read “Segregation Now …” with the greatest sadness and dismay. Only now do we fully understand the extent of resegregation in Tuscaloosa schools.
When Central High opened in 1979, some adults predicted that there would be conflict and even violence. We were teenagers, but we understood the importance of what we were doing. We students would show everyone that we could all get along. We remember the calm guidance of our teachers, who kept doing what they did best, educating us and taking care of us. We remember the feeling of togetherness, which we carry with us to this day. It is a feeling that goes way beyond anything political. It is sad and outrageous that more generations of students were not allowed to share this same feeling.
Michael Chwe, Wendy Dollar, Lillian Fletcher Anderton, Susan Gerald Fikes, Chris Griffin, Jim Holcomb, Dudley Jernigan, Margaret Cone Moran, Alicia Hasson Parr, Vicki Hite Rogers, Atonge Thompson, DeWayne Tooson, and William Whitten
Former Central High School students
Your story took me right back to my own experience in Washington, D.C. After Earl Warren had browbeaten the other eight justices into the unanimous ruling against the "separate but equal" policy of the Topeka, Kansas, Board of Education, we had our choice. Entering the seventh grade in 1954, I was given the choice of the previously white junior high school, Gordon, or the previously black one, Francis. My parents visited both, and decided on Francis for two reasons: (1) its teachers were—unsurprisingly—better qualified than their white counterparts, and (2) it was within walking distance of home, while Gordon was a bus ride away. I was put into the top section of the year, one of the three white students at the school. When it came time for a section president to be elected, a boy leaned over and asked me my name, which he promptly used to nominate me. No other boy sought nomination. On the girls' side of the room, the two white girls were nominated. All the boys voted for me, but the girls' vote was split, so I won. Later, I wanted to kick myself for having accepted the nomination, but it was too late. When I told her about it, my mother said, "Boss white man, eh?"
I'm sad to read that de facto segregation has been such a failure in ending the de jure model against which Brown was ruled. White flight caused much of this, and the rise of charter schools, using public money to fund for-profit education, has really put the icing on the cake.
Michael M. T. Henderson
THE MESSY TRUTH ABOUT FEMALE DESIRE
In March, Claire Dederer asked, "Why Is It So Hard for Women to Write About Sex?" She confessed, "My desire is always guessing, often second-guessing," and posited that men experience lust differently than women do.
I cringed when I read the teaser “Why Women Are So Bad at Writing About Sex” on the cover of the March Atlantic. The line implies that this article will finally explain the answer to this consistent and pervasive mystery. The judgment is as sweeping and compartmentalizing as it is untrue, and it smacks of the very over-simplification that the article so precisely works against. Claire Dederer’s engagement with the complexity of writing about desire deserves a better teaser, and your readers deserve a better assessment of their willingness to open a magazine that publishes, rather than hides, such complexity.