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Vox: First Person

Started reading’s very interesting first person series.

They are a series of blogs written in the first person about issues and struggles ordinary Americans are having.

The titles of the articles themselves draw you in:


They are thought provoking, excellently written and very raw.   Examples:

I’m 47 and I’m unemployed. I’ve been in and out of work for seven years now. This latest stint without steady work has lasted for almost two years. After submitting what feels like hundreds of applications and going through multiple five-hour interviews only to be rejected, I am plagued every day with the fear that I’ll never find a full-time job again.

There are many men out there like me. 9 million prime-age working men in our country are out of work. 7 million of them have stopped looking for work completely.


Less than a decade ago…I believed slavery in the antebellum South wasn’t as awful as some people made it out to be. I believed the Confederacy seceded to preserve states’ rights, not slavery. I thought Reconstruction was a mistake, a prime example of federal overreach. And I insisted the Confederate flag was a symbol of Southern pride, not racism. If Dylann Roof had gone to my high school and we had talked about American history, we would have agreed on a lot.


It was a foggy morning in March. I was new to the neighborhood, having moved to Berlin a few days before…My jet lag kept me awake…I needed to clear my head….I was wearing a black track jacket, a pair of leggings, and my bright purple and orange running sneakers. I heard someone yelling at …When the person came closer, I realized it was a police officer.

All I understood was “hello.” He continued talking in German for a good minute until he realized I didn’t understand.

“Excuse me,” he said. “What are you doing here? Where are you from? Can I see your ID?”

My first thought: Oh, great, I literally just arrived in Germany and a police officer is asking me questions. Am I doing something wrong?

I told him I didn’t carry my ID. All I had were my apartment keys.

He continued to ask me questions: “Where do you live?” “Why are you here so early?”

I told him I was sorry that I didn’t have my ID and would remember to carry it with me next time.

When I got back to my apartment I recalled the conversations I’d had with a few people I knew in Berlin about racism in Germany. They told me Berlin was generally safe and that I should avoid the some of the smaller Eastern towns in Germany, where I might run into neo-Nazis. The only checks I could expect were at the U-bahn (public transportation) for my ticket, but not for an ID.

No one ever mentioned that I could get stopped while running in the park. And when I told these friends about my encounter with the police officer while running, they assured me it was a one-time event. No one thought I would continue to get stopped.

Nine months and 23 identification checks later, I’m tired of getting asked where I’m from and where my ID is. I’m annoyed by the grocery store security guard asking me if I’m going to purchase the things I have in my cart whenever I stop in the store to think about what else I am forgetting on my list.


Check it out.   In a time when we are struggling to figure out why we elected the man we did for President, it’s worth reading and learning about what’s going on out there.

And listen to Ta-Nehisi Coates sit down with Ezra Klein on the Ezra Klein Show.

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