Essay, Featured »

I’m Counting My Family’s Thanksgiving Blessings. My Neighbors Aren’t All So Fortunate

By | November 22, 2017

In November, 2013, Shanice Joseph wrote an essay for Zócalo about how her financially challenged family was preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving. This year we asked her for an update, and she obliged.
With the holidays approaching I thought that I couldn’t be any happier. Over the past four years everything has been going great. My family and friends are happy and healthy. I made supervisor at …

Featured, Readings »

Zócalo’s Ten Favorite Nonfiction Books of 2017

By | November 22, 2017

If 2017 was the year the world stopped making sense to you, Zócalo’s 10 favorite nonfiction books of this new era are exactly what you need. They all, in some way, make sense of phenomena, past and present, that intrigue and confuse us. What is it we love about ghost stories? Where did life come from? Who is Barack Obama, really? Why are Trump supporters …

Connecting California »

A Very Cheech Marin Thanksgiving

By | November 21, 2017

This week, California should give thanks for Cheech.
Richard Anthony Marin deserves our gratitude not just because his new autobiography, Cheech Is Not My Real Name … But Don’t Call Me Chong, turns out to be the best California book of the year. And not just because his career should give you hope that no matter how short, bald, or brown you are, you can be …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

How Norway Taught Me to Balance My Hyphenated-Americanness

By | November 20, 2017

During the year I spent studying at the university in Trondheim, Norway, I sometimes learned more about my own country than Norway. One day, in my immigration studies class, my professor David Mauk, who hailed from Ohio, asked, “What does it mean to be American?”
I braced myself to hear the usual stereotypes from the news from the Norwegian students in my class. Then the …

Featured, The Takeaway »

China Soon Could Dominate the Global Economy—but Leading It Will Be Tougher

By | November 17, 2017

For China, pursuing global economic leadership is not just a goal. It’s an imperative.
That was the message from panelists at a Zòcalo/UCLA Anderson School of Management event, “Is China Prepared to Lead the Global Economy?” at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in downtown Los Angeles.
China is seeking global economic leadership, panelists said, as Chinese President Xi Jinping made clear at the recently …

Featured, Poetry »

My room was a palace of stickers/ & small stuffed toys #poem

By | November 17, 2017

*This poem includes text in italics from “Drug War on Doorsteps All Over Ciudad Juárez,” by Stephen Holden and “Ciudad Juárez, a Border City Known for Killing, Gets Back To Living,” by Damien Cave, both published in The New York Times.
Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing 2015) and Lima :: Limón (Copper Canyon Press, forthcoming). She has won …

Essay, Headline »

Want to Take My Civics Class? Get Ready to Squirm

By | November 17, 2017

In many conversations, the topic of civics education comes with its own halo. The conventional wisdom is that it’s good, clean medicine, and if our children just get enough of its inoculation, the American body politic will be healthy enough to survive another generation.
But after nearly two decades as a middle-school and high-school history teacher, I’ve come to understand through teaching civics—and studying how it’s …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

Can a Corrupt Politician Become a Good President?

By | November 16, 2017

“Who you are, what you are, it doesn’t change after you occupy the Oval Office,” President Barack Obama said during the 2016 election campaign. “It magnifies who you are. It shines a spotlight on who you are.”
But at least one man was transformed by the presidency: Chester Alan Arthur. Arthur’s redemption is all the more remarkable because it was spurred, at least in part, …

Essay, Headline »

Surviving Managua’s Government Crackdowns and Torrential Rains

By | November 15, 2017

On an overcast afternoon, Julio Baldelomar carries his metal ring of bagged chips past a new tourist attraction called Paseo Xolotlán, named for the nearly Los Angeles-sized lake on Managua, Nicaragua’s north side. Families flock to the high-walled complex to see a miniature replica of old Managua and walk on the waterfront promenade. But 31-year-old Julio is not allowed to enter while he’s hawking the …

Essay, Headline »

American Populism Shouldn’t Have to Embrace Ignorance

By | November 14, 2017

Public ignorance is an inherent threat to democracy. It breeds superstition, prejudice, and error; and it prevents both a clear-eyed understanding of the world and the formulation of wise policies to adapt to that world.
Plato believed it was more than a threat: He thought it characterized democracies, and would lead them inevitably into anarchy and ultimately tyranny. But the liberal democracies of the modern …