Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys who Grew Up to Change a Nation

I’m delighted to announce the publication of my latest book, Educated for Freedom, which follows the work of two lifelong friends and activists in the volatile years leading to the Civil War. In the 1820s, few Americans could imagine a viable future for black children. Even abolitionists saw just two options for African American youth:Continue reading “Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys who Grew Up to Change a Nation”

Stolen Children before and after Slavery at Rikers Island

Last month, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio put forward a $30 million, 10-year plan to close down the city’s infamous prison facility at Rikers Island, a decision motivated in part by the tragic story of young Kalief Browder. Browder was 16 years old when he was pulled off the street and arrested on acharge of stealingContinue reading “Stolen Children before and after Slavery at Rikers Island”

“That is really bad”: Trump, Child Slavery and the Allure of Innocence

Donald Trump, at some point during his visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, was shown a pair of manacles designed to shackle a child. His quoted response to the horrors conjured by the cruelly shaped metal—“That is really bad”—was roundly criticized as insufficient. Which, of course, it was. No responseContinue reading ““That is really bad”: Trump, Child Slavery and the Allure of Innocence”

Wonders of the Invisible World: Salem Witches, Scary Clowns, and Donald Trump

The clown scare is an uncanny telling of the terrifying story that’s unfolding for all of us at a moment in which none of us can believe what we’re seeing.

Ebola, Zombies and Our Viral Past

The horror stories about Ebola seem to be proliferating as quickly as the disease itself. International newspapers and even governmental edicts speak of zombies. Here in the US, Twitter is ablaze with conspiracies tying Ebola to infiltrating immigrants. On the airwaves, Laura Ingram and Rush Limbaugh accuse President Obama of deliberately sacrificing US interests toContinue reading “Ebola, Zombies and Our Viral Past”

The Happy Slave: or, Khaleesi’s American Dilemma

There are no robots in the world of Game of Thrones, but the Unsullied—an army of slave boys trained into finely honed killing machines–come as close to cyborgs as one can get with medieval tech. For Daenerys Targaryen, who desires the highest throne in the world, but who is horrified by the rape, pillage and murder thatContinue reading “The Happy Slave: or, Khaleesi’s American Dilemma”

Why Frank Underwood hates children

When Peter Russo’s young son bumps into Majority Whip Frank Underwood, causing the statesman to spill his coffee, Frank lets his usually impenetrable mask drop. Until then, we’ve watched Underwood orchestrate his facial expression to manipulate the feelings of others. But at this one unguarded moment, he is furiously, murderously angry, and it shows. “I’mContinue reading “Why Frank Underwood hates children”

The Crawling Dead: Disability and the Zombie’s Revenge

In Katherine Dunn’s 1989 novel, Geek Love, two freak show performers debate the merits of reading horror stories. “Don’t you get scared reading those at night?,”  the sister asks her older brother, Arty.  Arty, who makes his living by showcasing his limbless body, reads the horror novel as an instruction manual for any person with disabilities whoContinue reading “The Crawling Dead: Disability and the Zombie’s Revenge”

Fleshless Love: Her, Feminism and the Turing Test

Can a film about a bodiless woman be feminist?   Spike Jonze’s Her—hailed by critics as his best movie to date, and one of the best movies of the year, presents us with a lyrically wistful Turing Test—that hypothetical future moment when we will no longer be able to distinguish  human conversation from bon mots generated by a smart-bot.  What better proofContinue reading “Fleshless Love: Her, Feminism and the Turing Test”

Disney’s Queer Christian Princess Movie

Is Frozen Disney’s queerest movie yet? Or is it a story of Christian Virtue? Yes.  Pat Robertson was right. As goes Spongebob, so goes the nation. The much-feared “gay agenda” has established itself in our children’s culture. Even Disney, the franchise that has long trained little girls to view heterosexual marriage as life’s ultimate prize,Continue reading “Disney’s Queer Christian Princess Movie”