Ismail Muhammad

  • Southern Discomfort

    The protagonist of the linked short stories in Bryan Washington’s debut collection, Lot, does not give us his name—at least, not until we have earned this privilege. First, we have to let him usher us through Houston’s working-class neighborhoods and into the lives of queer people of color clinging to their jobs and homes as the city changes around them. The stories unfold in the confines of restaurant kitchens and cramped homes, places where the hard logic of economic precariousness can turn people into enemies just as easily as it can turn them into kin. In Washington’s portrait of the Houston

  • How Does It Feel?

    Late in his memoir, Casey Gerald watches a video of George W. Bush fumbling his way through a story about meeting an underprivileged black youth from South Dallas. The former president’s tale is a version of a familiar narrative, one that Americans trot out as evidence of our society’s fundamentally meritocratic structure: Despite a dead father and an imprisoned mother, despite growing up in the inner-city neighborhood of South Oak Cliff—“you know, on the other side of the Trinity River,” Bush informs us, assuming, correctly, that we all understand the black urban abjection that stems from

  • White Noise

    LATE LAST SUMMER, a disparate band of white nationalists, internet trolls, and media personalities who loosely fall under the banner of the alt-right gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia. Emboldened by the 2016 election, the rally’s organizers, Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer, saw their chance to transform a movement that had been confined to the dark corners of the internet into a real-world political force. The city’s leaders, pointing to the First Amendment, allowed hundreds of protesters, many of whom had openly called for deadly violence against black, trans, and Jewish people, to