My Ten Favorite Articles That I Wrote in 2014

Last December, I highlighted my ten favorite articles that I wrote in 2013, and I’ve decided to try it again this year.

First, here’s a quick summary of my 2014: I continued writing for the Austin Chronicle, mostly covering local news. I’m still the opinion editor for The Horn and still occasionally contribute to the Dallas Observer and The Dallas Morning News. I’ve kept writing for the Texas Travesty, which was named the “Readers Best Local Non-‘Chronicle’ Publication” by the Austin Chronicle (and during the fall, I was the Travesty‘s Senior Food Critic). At school, I’ve studied and written about a variety of topics, including history, Christianity, and hip-hop. In the spring, I rapped for charity. In November, I started working part-time for Pluckers Wing Bar, handling marketing and donations.

All in all, I wrote over fifty articles this year. Below, in chronological order, are the ten of my articles from 2014 that I’m most proud of:

1. “For popular rapper, an unusual calling card: sobriety” – The Dallas Morning News – February 14:

I grew up reading The Dallas Morning News‘ Points Section every Sunday morning, and those articles definitely helped inspire me to write. So it was a dream come true when my essay about rapper Macklemore and his struggle with addiction was published in the Sunday Points section.

2. “Facebook ‘Threat’ Case Unresolved” – Austin Chronicle – February 28:

While an especially frustrating case to cover, the story of Justin Carter is an important story for me  – and anyone else who values free speech. My reporting on the case was even cited by NPR.

3. “Online Privacy: Technical, Political, or Both?” – Austin Chronicle – March 28:

As a result of whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s leaks, many Americans are becoming more conscious of their online privacy and security. I interviewed multiple experts for the story, including Phil Zimmermann, Elissa Shevinsky, and more.

4. “Stand up to injustice, even if you stand alone — and remember the ‘tank man’” – The Dallas Morning News – June 5:

The Tiananmen Square protester known simply as ‘Tank Man’ has long been a hero of mine, so I was grateful to get to write about his heroism, twenty-five years after the event.

5. “The Texas GOP Stands on a Platform of Ignorance” – Reason – June 28:

Reason is one of my favorite publications, so I was honored to write for them. Earlier this year, the Texas Republican Party’s 2014 platform condemned homosexuality, arguing that being gay “must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle.” They even supported reparative therapy, a controversial practice aimed at helping homosexuals embrace their “authentic” heterosexual identity. And I wasn’t too happy about that, so I wrote about it.

6. “The Best Bible Verse-Checks in the History of Rap” – On Faith – July 29:

In 2013, I explored the profane by writing about “The 30 Most Disturbing Songs of All Time.” This year, I strayed from the profane and focused on the sacred – I wrote about the best Biblical allusions in hip-hop.

7. “A.Dd+ Chronicle Their Nawfside Love on New Nawf EP” – Dallas Observer – August 12:

Just this last week, Dallas hip-hop duo A.Dd+ won three Dallas Observer Music Awards – Best EP, Best Rap/Hip-Hop Act, and Best Live Act. Back in August, I interviewed the duo about their Nawf EP – which pays homage to ‘Nawf Dallas,’ the neighborhood where the duo is from (and where I’m from as well).

8. “Talking Songs with Joe Purdy” – The Horn – September 10:

Joe Purdy is one of my all-time favorite musicians, and I had the privilege of interviewing the singer-songwriter before covering his concert in Austin.

9. “Pluckers is the bomb – ISIS is not” – Texas Travesty – September 23:

If there’s one thing I love, it’s Pluckers Wing Bar. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s war. So I connected the two in one of my (hopefully) humorous articles as the Texas Travesty‘s Senior Food Critic.

10. UFC Fight Night Pounds the Erwin Center” – Austin Chronicle – November 24:

While I’m generally not too big of a sports fan, I do enjoy MMA, and I was lucky enough to cover a UFC event for the Chronicle. And before covering the event itself, I had the chance to interview UFC featherweight Cub Swanson.

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Transforming the World: The Transformations of Malcolm X

Perhaps the shortest and easiest way to summarize the life of Malcolm Little, ‘Detroit Red’, ‘Satan’, Malcolm X, and finally El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz is to quote Ossie Davis, who explained to a magazine why he eulogized Malcolm X: “He had been a criminal, an addict, a pimp, and a prisoner; a racist, and a hater, he had really believed the white man was a devil. But all this had changed. Two days before his death, in commenting to Gordon Parks about his past life he said: ‘That was a mad scene. The sickness and madness of those days! I’m glad to be free of them.’” Or, as Columbia professor Manning Marable subtitled his biography of Malcolm X, it was A Life of Reinvention. In his own Autobiography, Malcolm noted that his “whole life had been a chronology of changes.”  His life molded the world, and his legacy still lives on today, both globally and locally.

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Stop Whitewashing History: The Civil War Was About Slavery

In one of my opinion columns for The Horn, I advocated removing the statues of Confederate leaders from the University of Texas at Austin’s campus. I’ve been surprised and disappointed by how many people are truly proud of our Confederate history. Many believe that slavery wasn’t the main cause of the Civil War, and that the Southerners were fighting “about autonomy/ freedom from a authoritarian government,” as one commenter wrote.

In fact, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2011 found that 48% of Americans considered states’ rights to be the primary cause of the war, compared to only 38% who said the war was mainly about slavery.

However, the vast majority of historians today, as well as firsthand accounts from the time, point out that slavery was undoubtedly the primary factor of the American Civil War (although, of course, not the only cause).

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A Lone Star Solution: School Safety

In the wake of an unacceptable number of school shootings, the country is in agreement that something must be done.  As far as what should be done, well, we seem to be even more divided than we are on most other political issues – and in America that’s saying something.

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Football is king – but should it be?

“Sectional football games have the glory and the despair of war, and when a Texas team takes the field against a foreign state, it is an army with banners,” John Steinbeck wrote in his Travels with Charley.

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When I first considered myself a writer

I’ve known how to write for a very, very long time.  But knowing how to write doesn’t make you a writer, in the same way that knowing how to shoot a basketball doesn’t make you an athlete (although it took me quite a while to realize that).

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Let’s Be Real Here

I’m an American student.  America’s Youth loves working hard, but let’s be real here- we only work hard the night before it’s due.  And I know that offends my generation, as we don’t like to admit our problems.  Society today, let’s be real here, isn’t exactly being “real” to itself.  I think it’s time to address hypocrisy one pretense at a time.

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Keep Justice Alive: Kill the Death Penalty

“The death penalty demands discussion”

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The United States shares something in common with China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. We, like them, use the death penalty. According to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, the United States ranks fifth in executions among every country in the world.

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Why not Gary Johnson?

It’s campaign season.  Attack ads, debates, phone calls, stump speeches, fundraisers, and some more attack ads.  For many, November 6th means another year of voting for the lesser of two evils.  Voting for the lesser of two evils, unfortunately, is still voting for evil – especially when there’s a third option.

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Protest against stupidity

On October 2nd, former UT student Chas Moore and more than 100 other members of the community marched through West Campus.  Their chants echoed through the streets: “No more violence, no more silence” and “Don’t you hate, don’t you fear, people of color are welcome here.”  It’s hard to disagree with that.

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