Big News and Big Thanks
I thought about burying the lede to make you really work for it, you know? But, we aren’t that kind of community. It has been announced today that I am joining the New York Times as a Contributing Opinion Writer. I will write a weekly newsletter and contribute Tressays on occasion.
Listen, I am as surprised as you are.
There is a lot to be said about how this happened and how I am making sense of it. I cannot articulate either at the moment. Everything happened quickly and here is a thing about me — I’m not so great at feeling moments. I just sort of soldier ahead and respond to milestones with more work.
I have been a critical thinker for as long as I have known what that means. It means a lot to me that I never think of any dominant institution as “here” in the Drake sense of “I started from the bottom and now I’m here.” There are many heres and my people have heres and I hope my tribe builds new, better heres.
At the same time, I am a little Black girl born to a long line of women who used to be little Black girls. It means something that the same New York Times that published my grandmother’s favorite crossword is now the place where I pontificate on things.
Speaking of pontificating on things. This space will look a little different moving forward. We’ll still send out occasional updates on all things Tressie, and your subscription from now on will be free. For those who purchased Founding Member subscriptions, we will be donating those funds to support women of color writers through the Night School Bar here in Durham, NC. That’s a little over $25,000 that will go to supporting a community organization dedicated to organic intellectualism. The Night School Bar offers a range of humanistic short courses at affordable prices. They also support writers, with great care to consider Black women’s intellectual traditions. I trust them to spend your financial gift in alignment with essaying’s values.
Speaking of those values, let’s be clear that I am joining The New York Times in no small part because of what we created here. I threw out theories and ideas and counterintuitive analyses of culture, economics and institutions. And you came along with me. We demonstrated what a newsletter community could tackle. You will see more of that with The New York Times and I am, in so many ways, just getting started.
My academic home at the Center for Information, Technology and Public Life energizes my sociological inflection on everything from popular culture to policy. You will be hearing more from the experts that I trust — and you had best believe those experts look a lot different than those who have traditionally dominated The Discourse.
Your support has given me the space to think and write about what’s important to me, something Eve Ewing wished for me on a panel just this week and something Black women writers rarely get to do. I also want to acknowledge that this has always been a collaborative project. You see my name and hear my voice but you are also experiencing Lauren Garcia, Sarah Choi, Kera Bolonik and Zari Taylor.
This is a team of women, mostly women of color, who pull off feats well beyond our resources. We performed small miracles every single day of every single week. Team Tressie foments amazing ideas, translates them to different audiences, constantly checks me and us on our values, and makes me better.
Thank you to them and to you.