#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.
From senior editor for engagement Wright Bryan:
There’s way more to Louisiana than its legendary food and music traditions. It’s a fascinating state that both lives in the moment and revels in the past. I’m always ready to live a little, so I couldn’t resist reading this history of the Evangeline Downs race track when it floated through my Twitter feed recently.
Evangeline Downs opened in 1966 in the small town of Carencro, just outside of Lafayette. It’s the heart of Acadiana, a place dotted with names like Opelousas and Breaux Bridge. It’s also horse racing country, as Alan Broussard and Conni Castille explain in their piece:
“For more than a century, long before the lights blazed above Evangeline Downs, South Louisiana’s landscape was scattered with unsanctioned, rural dirt tracks, often adjacent to a barroom with a dance floor. When young Cajun boys weren’t working their horses on the headlands of sugarcane fields, they were racing them, barefoot and bare-chested, at those bush tracks.”
With quotes from Calvin Borel, Lyle Lovett and Eddie Delahoussaye, this is no dry history of a long-forgotten local attraction. This is a fun cultural history full of personality and good times. So head on over to the Know Louisiana website, supported by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and enjoy getting to know a part of the country that’s so much more than the stale Cajun and Creole stereotypes we often see in the national media.
From political reporter Asma Khalid:
Roberto Suro, a professor at the University of Southern California who often offers fascinating perspectives on Latinos/immigration/demographics, has a new piece in Politico this week called “Clinton’s Latino Firewall.” And, it’s a #MustRead for folks trying to understand the motivations of Hispanic voters this election season.
Throughout much of the primary season, we got a glimpse of how indicative demographics were of voter behavior, and Suro explains why minorities, Latinos in particular, supported the conventional candidate in a year when so many voters were craving an “outsider.”
His theory is that Americans who have historically felt excluded are more likely to vote for Clinton. He suggests that middle-class Latinos are more concerned with finding a candidate who will defend them than a candidate who is honest and likable.
As he writes, “What’s emerging is a realization that the people least likely to want upheaval are those who have struggled to gain access to the status quo, and who have succeeded at least a bit.”
From All Things Considered production assistant Jordan-Marie Smith:
Last summer seemed like the rise of the carefree black woman. Now, The Fader’s Killian Wright-Jackson is making a case for the carefree black man, with both living under the ever-present question, “Can I live?”
Wright-Jackson describes being different than most black boys at his high school. His accent was Southern, he expressed feminine mannerisms and he had a closet that didn’t quite resemble his classmates.’ He was the other and he was carefree. In his piece, Wright-Jackson points to the systemic societal “caging” of black men and their ability to express anything other than coarse masculinity. He provides Odell Beckham Jr., the footballer who loves dancing on the field, Jaden Smith in his Louis Vuitton skirt and Drake’s admiration of Lil Wayne as examples of black men who have been chastised for stepping outside of the hyper-masculine stereotype.
Wright-Jackson even points out how the sexuality of these men becomes “suspect.” Because, of course a black man expressing how much he is in awe of a rapper like Lil Wayne means he is gay.
But, the point that stood out to me the most was this: with the world looking down on black men, why make their self expression a burden?
“The men we love, the boys we love; they’re dying — at the hands of police, private citizens, and individuals like Omar Mateen who use hate as a reason to kill. Who then are we to limit them in living their lives on their terms?”