Elias Rodriques

  • The Running of the Bulls

    MIDWAY THROUGH GRADUATE SCHOOL, I started to dislike reading. I spent my days skimming academic articles and my evenings skimming novels in search of quotes for my dissertation. I turned to television: sitcoms and basketball. When I developed insomnia, I returned to books—books about basketball.

    Like many in my generation, I had long been fascinated by Michael Jordan. I grew up in Jamaica and so knew nothing of American sports during the Bulls’ 1990s championship runs. But I had seen the highlights, the insulting flash of his pink tongue, and the way gravity bent around his body. And I had

  • The Old Jim Crow

    IN 1947, A YOUNG AUDRE LORDE and her family boarded a train from New York to Washington, DC. Along with their luggage, they carried a box of food, including roast chickens, bread, butter, pickles, peppers, carrots, a spice bun, peaches, iced cakes, rock cakes, iced tea, napkins, and a rosewater-dampened washcloth. “I wanted to eat in the dining car,” Lorde writes in her autobiography, Zami (1982), “but my mother reminded me for the umpteenth time that dining car food always cost too much money.” Her mother was hiding the full truth—that Black families could not eat in southbound dining cars—to

  • Blame It on the Rain

    EVERY SPRING FOR MILLENNIA, snow in the Rockies and Appalachians has melted, carrying silt to the Mississippi River. From Minneapolis to Natchez, the river has bulged with the mountains’ sediment and whatever soil it pulled from the banks. Near its mouth, the Mississippi widens. Its height drops and its pace slows, allowing millions of metric tons of sediment to settle. Over time, the continent’s profit has expanded the state of Louisiana.

    But over the last one hundred years, Louisiana has shrunk. The Mississippi River has washed more soil into the Gulf of Mexico than it carried from the north.

  • The Spirit of St. Louis

    In the twelfth century, the city of Cahokia, settled on mounds near the Mississippi River, had a population greater than London’s. Its trade and travel routes stretched to present-day Minnesota and Louisiana. Around 1350, Cahokia’s residents abandoned the city for unknown reasons, but its traces remained. In 1764, traders led by Auguste Chouteau built a fort across the river and saw the abandoned mounds. Assuming they were the remains of a long-gone civilization, the French traders thought the people living around them—a different group of indigenous people than Cahokia’s inhabitants—were

  • culture April 17, 2018

    The Burning House: Jim Crow and the Making of Modern America by Anders Walker

    In 1977, the school district of Kansas City, Missouri, sued the state of Missouri for supporting segregation. Kansas City students were largely black; suburban schools educated significantly whiter populations. The government’s districting policies, the suit alleged, produced de facto segregation. In 1985, the District Court ruled in Kansas City’s favor and ordered, among other things, the construction of magnet schools to attract white students. Ten years later, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s ruling, insisting that Brown v. Board of Education applied only to laws mandating