The Year of Online Essays
by Claire Light
We’re in the golden age of a lot of things, right now. Television, yes. Internet magazines, yes. Diversity in media? In 2016, most definitely, yes.
But the one that’s really gotten me this year is a sort of smaller one: as a result of the proliferation of online magazines and the millennial desire for mixing it up, I’ve spent the year reading amazing essays by marginalized people.
Here’s a selection of them (most of these were published in 2016, but some slightly less recently):
Essays on songs we love, that have embedded messages we hate.
- On internalized racism and self-hatred from a Korean American man.
- A rare nuanced meditation on white privilege from the point of view of someone who may or may not be white.
- Watching and Reading about White People Having Sex Is My Escape.
- Analyses of Beyonce’s "Formation" video, positive ...
- ... and negative.
- A love song to Hong Kong, and a new kind of decolonization politics, from an immigrant.
- What Not to Wear (and Other Things No One Tells You When You’re a First-Generation College Graduate).
- The Politics of Patois in the New Millennium.
Illness, mental illness, sexual assault, politics, and how they all connect.
- The Sick Woman Theory: "How do you throw a brick through the window of a bank if you can’t get out of bed?"
- This is what it’s really like to get and maintain a chronic illness, and because it’s in The (lamented) Toast, it’s funny and sharp.
- A different take, for men who want to save women from their chronic illnesses.
- Prince and the Sparkle Brains: Growing up epileptic, surviving sexual abuse, and loving Prince: probably my favorite Prince tribute this year, although it’s hard to choose.
- A multi-media essay about mental illness, suicide, and sexual abuse. Huge trigger warnings, but so worth it.
- The letter the Stanford Rape Victim read to Brock Turner in court.
- What I Learned from Dating Women Who Have Been Raped: “More than any explicit action, this societal expectation for me to provide nurturance to the very people who resent me has poisoned me. It has required a betrayal of the most personal kind, and to recover from it necessitates re-learning one of the most basic human instincts: My own suffering matters."
- Children, anger, and politics.
- A Mother Jones profile of alt right leader Richard Spencer: this is the one piece on this list not by (as far as I know) a marginalized writer, but it's a great piece and a really good look into the new face of white supremacy.
- The White Working Class Can Kiss My Brown Ass.
- Alex Chee tells about working as a cater waiter for William F. and Pat Buckley.
- The fascinating story of how the Myers Briggs Personality Test came to be.
Claire Light's stories and articles have appeared in The Encyclopedia Project, McSweeney's, FarThing, Hyphen, Other, Sensor, Viet Tide, popandpolitics.com and various online and print zines. She was KSW's APAture featured artist in literature for 2005. Aqueduct published a collection of her short stories, Slightly Behind and to the Left in its Conversation Pieces series in 2009.
She blogs at Hyphen and at her own blogs, SeeLight (personal blog) and atlas(t) (mapping and geography.)