The Muralist and Enumerator

How a census taker and an artist were participants to the grand project of displaying and explaining America to itself.
A screenshot of Arthur Morgan, the central character in 'Red Dead Redemption 2' (2018).

Red Dead Redemption 2 Confronts the Racist Past and Lets You Do Something About It

Poke around the game’s fictional South and you’ll find cross-burning Klansmen, whom you are free to kill.
A sampling of different protein and energy bars (2008).

Hard to Swallow

How the military, a marathoner, and the relentless march of capitalism turned protein bars into an unlikely American staple.
An example of the dance form of voguing.

An Oral History of Voguing from a Pioneer of the Iconic Dance

"This is not just a fad. This, for us, was a dance of survival, but it was also a social dance."
Migrant Mother (1936).

The Making of an Iconic Photograph: Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother

The complex backstory of one of the most famous images of the Great Depression.

Why is Everyone Suddenly Saying 'Y'all'?

Or better put, why is it something so many outside of the South have recently adopted?
Edith Wharton's library at her home, called The Mount.

Virginia Woolf? Snob! Richard Wright? Sexist! Dostoyevsky? Anti-Semite!

How should we read literature from the past with moral blind spots that offend us today?
Minstrel Troupe, St. Norbert College, Wisconsin, 1924.

The Troubling History Behind Ralph Northam’s Blackface Klan Photo

How blackface shaped Virginia politics and culture for more than a century.
The half-black, half-white topsy-turvey doll.

The Racial Symbolism of the Topsy-Turvy Doll

The uncertain meaning behind a half-black, half-white, two-headed toy.
Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers (1954).

On Jackie Robinson’s 100th Birthday, 100 Photos of an Icon

Through images and personal essays by longtime New York Times writers, a vivid look at the man who made baseball truly American.
The punk rock band Pure Hell.

The Forgotten Story of Pure Hell, America’s First Black Punk Band

The four-piece lived with the New York Dolls and played with Sid Vicious, but they’ve been largely written out of cultural history.
Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman display their Golden Globe awards for their performance in

Why Do the Oscars Keep Falling for Racial Reconciliation Fantasies?

In many Oscar bait movies, interracial friendships come with a paycheck, and follow the white character’s journey to enlightenment.