A Three-Part Series on the Plight of the Black Middle Class in America


Longreads

The Washington Post recently published a powerful three-part series looking at the plight of the black middle class in America. The series focuses on Maryland’s Prince George’s County—the most affluent majority-black county in America, as well as one of the counties hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis. At the heart of the series is a singular, vexing question: “Why don’t black middle-class families enjoy the same level of economic security as their white counterparts?”

1. “The American Dream Shatters in Prince George’s County” (Michael A. Fletcher, January 24, 2015)

“But today, the nation’s highest-income majority-black county stands out for a different reason — its residents have lost far more wealth than families in neighboring, majority-white suburbs. And while every one of these surrounding counties is enjoying a strong rebound in housing prices and their economies, Prince George’s is lagging far behind, and local economists say a full recovery appears unlikely anytime soon.”

2.“In…

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Five Themes for Writers and Readers


The WordPress.com Blog

In the past, we’ve highlighted some of our favorite themes for longform enthusiasts and bloggers who just want to write. Today, let’s take a look at five free themes, launched in the past several months, that offer a distraction-free writing and reading experience.

Radcliffe

radcliffe readabilityRadcliffe combines bold typography with a clutter-free post layout, as shown above. Ideal for longform writing, the theme works blissfully out of the box for those focused on lots of text. The default headline font Abril Fatface is strong but not overbearing, while the Crimson font for your body text completes this pleasurable reading experience.

Calling out text in various ways also looks fantastic — for example, the blockquote styling is simple but sophisticated:

Radcliffe blockquote

But don’t be fooled by Radcliffe‘s simple design. Your photography has a place here, too: full-width featured images give your posts visual flair, while galleries also look lovely, as seen on Sage and…

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Join the Con-verse-ation! Writing 201: Poetry Is Starting Soon.


The Daily Post

In less than two weeks we’ll be unveiling our first-ever Blogging U. course dedicated to poetry. Does joining a verse-loving community where you can share your work in a supportive, collegial environment sound like fun? Just scroll to the bottom of the post and sign up. Need more information about this course? Read on!

Poets of the world, unite!

The idea behind Writing 201: Poetry is to bring together poets of all styles, temperaments, and experience levels in a way that encourages writing, sharing, and discussion. You get to decide how laid back or challenging you want the course to be.

Each day for the duration of the course (not counting weekends), you’ll receive an assignment, made up of three parts: a word prompt, a poetic form, and a poetic device. You get to choose which of these you want to explore (if any).

We’d like toemphasize that we welcome novices and seasoned…

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When Two People Decide to Live Together and Combine Their Bookshelves


Longreads

Alexander Chee has a delightful essay in the Morning News about the way we view our personal libraries and what happens to our books when we attempt to combine our bookshelves with our partners:

One of the funniest and most interesting questions you can ask a group of couples at a party is whether or not they have combined their bookshelves.

I discovered this once I began asking it, looking for advice from others who might have done this. Most often, thus far, in my highly selective, completely unscientific research, the answer is no. Reasons get thrown around, and one is common. “I told her,” a friend said, who had just completed this process, “‘That stack of doubles by the entrance, that you will not get rid of, that is your doubt about our long-term future.’” He laughed as he said this.

Doubles, inside this world of library marriages…

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Searching for the Secret to Waking Up Early


Longreads

I abhor waking up. Every morning, I silence the first of my iPhone’s three alarms (set for 5:30, 5:45, and 6 a.m., thanks to the fact that I work East Coast hours from the West Coast), bend myself reluctantly out of bed, pick crud out of my eyes, and try to convince myself that today is going to be the day I become a morning person. It never works, though—in part, I suspect, because I’ve never learned the proper methods.

The big lesson of wake-up science is that one person’s perfect morning is another person’s hell. (Lady Gaga, for instance, has said that she does five minutes of meditation every morning. If I tried that, I’d be snoozing by minute two.) But with some effort and careful attention to what makes you feel alert and awake, waking up can go from painful to—well, not pleasant, exactly, but certainly tolerable. By…

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