In The Fray

In The Fray personal stories. global issues. www.inthefray.org
In The Fray is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that publishes an online magazine.

In The Fray features original reporting, personal essays, commentary, cultural criticism, photography, and artwork by contributors from all walks of life and on all seven continents.

Mission: In The Fray is an online magazine for writers and artists to explore global issues and engage readers with personal perspectives and critical analysis.

President Trump has decimated America's refugee resettlement program by imposing travel bans and slashing the number of ...
02/04/2019
I’ll Jump When I See Them

President Trump has decimated America's refugee resettlement program by imposing travel bans and slashing the number of refugees the US admits. Ashley Makar of IRIS - Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services writes about the human cost of these policies through the story of one refugee family from war-torn Darfur.

Read the story: http://inthefray.org/2019/02/jump-when-i-see-them-darfur-refugees

The travel bans have been in the headlines, but less reported are the other moves that the Trump administration has made to keep refugees out of the US. For families fleeing war in Sudan and other conflict zones, these policies have taken a toll.

Tomorrow is the seventy-fourth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In The Fray contributing writer Jan Vihan ref...
01/26/2019
Remembrance of Things Past

Tomorrow is the seventy-fourth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In The Fray contributing writer Jan Vihan reflects on the story of Eva Mozes Kor and Oskar Gröning—one an Auschwitz survivor, the other a former SS officer—and the enduring meaning of their embrace in a German courtroom four years ago.

Read the essay: http://inthefray.org/2019/01/remembrance-of-things-past-holocaust-auschwitz/

Eva Mozes Kor, an Auschwitz survivor, publicly forgave one of her former captors before he died last year—at the end, a convicted war criminal. On the seventy-fourth anniversary of the camp’s liberation, the long journey to bring one of its SS officers to justice raises questions about the power...

Our latest piece: Editor-in-chief Victor Tan Chen on the class divide in whether and how millennials can do "adult" thin...
10/19/2018
Adulting While Poor

Our latest piece: Editor-in-chief Victor Tan Chen on the class divide in whether and how millennials can do "adult" things like move out from their parent's home, buy a house, get a full-time job.

Not all millennials are struggling to reach the traditional milestones of adulthood, but some are—and America’s growing inequality is the reason.

Our latest piece: The real problem on the US-Mexico border isn't anything a wall will fix, says Anna Chan, who worked on...
09/28/2018
Back to the Wall

Our latest piece: The real problem on the US-Mexico border isn't anything a wall will fix, says Anna Chan, who worked on border missions for the military. It's the rampant drug trade and the lack of economic opportunity for those living on either side.

Along the US–Mexican border in Arizona, the drug trade persists, but the jobs have long gone. Would building a border wall change anything?

Our review of "The Captured Economy," a book on why the rents are too damn high—"rents" in the sense of special-interest...
07/22/2018
Rent Control: A Review of Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles’s Captured Economy

Our review of "The Captured Economy," a book on why the rents are too damn high—"rents" in the sense of special-interest lobbying, not Jimmy McMillan's kind of rent (in spite of our misleading stock art).

Maybe we shouldn’t put too much faith in the hope that the rich will want to rein in their bad behavior.

From our latest piece, about traveling in another Syria, long before the civil war: "The man grew agitated. He pointed t...
05/17/2018
Waiting for Syria

From our latest piece, about traveling in another Syria, long before the civil war: "The man grew agitated. He pointed to me now. 'You! Work?'… I fumbled around for yet another word, my frustration growing. Finally, I shouted out, 'Actor!' The man’s eyes grew wild. His mouth opened, then shut. He grabbed our passports—which had, at long last, made it to the top of the pile—and shoved them under all the others, at the very bottom."

Sand continued to drift in through the open doors. The overhead fan swirled the grit into our clothes, hair, eyes, teeth. The women wore their hijabs tight across their faces, their eyes cast down, stealing glances at James and me. It was hard to tell what they thought of us, the only white people a...

In The Fray's cover photo
05/16/2018

In The Fray's cover photo

Our interview with Hiroshi Inaba, a Japanese activist fighting the expansion of US military bases on the island of Okina...
05/16/2018
All Your Bases Belong to Us: A Conversation with Japanese Activist Hiroshi Inaba

Our interview with Hiroshi Inaba, a Japanese activist fighting the expansion of US military bases on the island of Okinawa: "More than 70 percent of US bases in Japan are in Okinawa. Okinawan people don’t want the US base construction, but they’re not being listened to. People here deserve democracy and human rights. I don’t know what the results of our protests will be, but we have to do it."

Read the full interview: http://inthefray.org/2018/05/all-your-bases-belong-to-us-japanese-activist-hiroshi-inaba-okinawa

‪From our review of Helen Benedict’s new novel “Wolf Season”: “Like other great art, Wolf Season renders a world that de...
03/16/2018
Collateral Damage: A Review of Helen Benedict’s Wolf Season

‪From our review of Helen Benedict’s new novel “Wolf Season”: “Like other great art, Wolf Season renders a world that defies such heartlessness, showing us how deeply moved we can be by lives and experiences that bear little resemblance to our own.”

Helen Benedict’s novel Wolf Season describes how old wounds from the Iraq War linger on in the lives of three women.

In The Fray's cover photo
02/20/2018

In The Fray's cover photo

Our interview with Carol Prior, a First Nations activist fighting against a major coal mining project in Australia that ...
02/20/2018
Canary in the Coal Mine: A Conversation with First Nations Activist Carol Prior

Our interview with Carol Prior, a First Nations activist fighting against a major coal mining project in Australia that threatens the Great Barrier Reef: "There is nothing more beautiful, richer, or rarer than the Barrier Reef. If we allow it to be destroyed, all of the creatures will become extinct. The only place people will see them is in a book. People will be saying, 'Why didn’t our grandparents stand up to protect them? They should have fought to protect them.' Put your hands up, be counted, help us to protect this place. The reef is not just for Australians—it’s for the world. The animals you find in Australia, you won’t find anywhere else. If we destroy their habitats, we have nothing."

Read the full interview: http://inthefray.org/2018/02/first-nations-activist-environmentalist-carol-prior-interview/

The Indian corporation Adani is establishing one of the world’s largest coal mining operations in Australia, affecting Aboriginal lands as well as the Great Barrier Reef. The toll on the land and sea, says Juru elder and environmentalist Carol Prior, will be felt around the world—in the loss of ...

In The Fray
11/28/2017

In The Fray

In The Fray's cover photo
10/23/2017

In The Fray's cover photo

From our latest piece, a personal essay by Robert Joe Stout on the Mexican government's crackdown on protests and the cu...
10/23/2017
Ghost Lives

From our latest piece, a personal essay by Robert Joe Stout on the Mexican government's crackdown on protests and the culture of resignation it has left behind:

"Becoming a ghost is easy—in fact, it’s difficult to resist. Twenty-first-century Mexico is not unlike the Europe that George Orwell described in '1984': censorship and shortages, Big Brother watching and armies perpetually at war (in Mexico, on the streets of one’s own neighborhood). To survive, you adapt. You accept the diversions offered: weddings, holidays, televised sports events, church processions. You take the kids to watch Disney movies and sandlot baseball games. You join the locals dancing in the streets, peruse the used clothing and pirated CDs being peddled, or sip the tiny cups of mescal handed out in the plaza. You find a prostitute to slip away with. The nota roja in the newspaper lists each day’s assassinations, multiple-fatality car crashes, and rape attempts, but you can watch the daytime game shows and evening telenovelas without hearing mention of drug crimes or government corruption."

Read the entire article: http://inthefray.org/2017/10/ghost-lives-oaxaca-mexico-teacher-protests

“Mira!” Erika wagged a slim forefinger toward vendors, gawkers, and ice cream-smeared toddlers moving through the city of Oaxaca’s central plaza as she turned to face me. “You think you’re seeing people but they’re not people, they’re ghosts!” Erika had taught high school for nearly thirty years and...

Our editor in chief Victor Tan Chen on the ways that marriages fray after a job loss—which, in today’s tough economy, hu...
08/24/2017
America, Home of the Transactional Marriage

Our editor in chief Victor Tan Chen on the ways that marriages fray after a job loss—which, in today’s tough economy, hurts working-class people particularly hard.

The country’s exceptionally thin safety net prompts residents—especially those with less-steady employment—to view partnership in more economic terms.

Our editor in chief Victor Tan Chen reviews MIT economist Peter Temin's new book, "The Vanishing Middle Class." Temin ma...
07/28/2017
The Dual Economy

Our editor in chief Victor Tan Chen reviews MIT economist Peter Temin's new book, "The Vanishing Middle Class." Temin makes the case that changes in the economy and political system have created two Americas: a well-educated and well-connected minority, and a majority falling into stagnation and despair.

In his new book The Vanishing Middle Class, MIT economist Peter Temin provides a short and accessible take on this country’s deeply unequal economy, which he argues now represents two different Americas. The first is comprised of the country’s elite workers: well-educated bankers, techies, and other...

In The Fray's cover photo
06/07/2017

In The Fray's cover photo

From our latest piece by Jo Magpie: "Not far from the wreckage of Aleppo, a society founded on principles of direct demo...
06/07/2017
Women’s March

From our latest piece by Jo Magpie: "Not far from the wreckage of Aleppo, a society founded on principles of direct democracy and women’s rights has taken root in the predominantly Kurdish region known as Rojava. There, in defiance of the Islamic State’s brutal patriarchy, women are leading the way in political decision-making and fighting on the frontlines in their own battalions."

Amid war and ruin in Syria, a Kurdish-led movement has established a society ruled by radical democracy—of, for, and by women.

From our latest piece, a personal essay by former HIV researcher Jennifer Kotlewski on a moment when hard science collid...
03/07/2017
Human Subjects

From our latest piece, a personal essay by former HIV researcher Jennifer Kotlewski on a moment when hard science collided with human emotion:

"That night, I reviewed Volunteer 739’s file. From her answers to our questions it was clear she had grown up in extreme poverty. She had turned to sex work to survive, and I wondered how much of a choice she’d had along the way. In many other ways, though, she wasn’t so different from me. We were close in age. We both wanted to have kids someday. She was ambitious, too—she’d told us she wanted to get out of sex work and start her own business. How would this diagnosis change all that? How much had changed just in one day?"

Read the entire essay: http://inthefray.org/2017/03/human-subjects/

In 2013 I moved to Ndola, a city in northern Zambia, to work on an HIV research project. Ndola is the hub of the country’s copper mining industry, a bustling commercial center that draws entrepreneurs from South Africa and beyond. My organization worked with government clinics in villages around the...

From our latest piece, a personal essay by former teacher Chris Schumerth:"When I gave Lamar his envelope, he opened it ...
02/19/2017
Failing Grades

From our latest piece, a personal essay by former teacher Chris Schumerth:

"When I gave Lamar his envelope, he opened it and looked at his grades. The muscles in his forehead contracted, his eyes closed halfway, and he glared at me with a look of disgust. 'Mister Schuma, I hate you! You a racist! I’m gonna tell my mama to switch me to another class!'

"His words stung, but I was prepared with a teacher-ly lecture: 'Lamar, there’s lots of time left in the school year for you to—'

"He was already out the door, his back to me, his hands over his ears. Running down the hall, Lamar flung his backpack onto the floor like cargo at sea."

Read the entire essay: http://inthefray.org/2017/02/failing-grades/

I was torn about failing a fifth-grader. In a poor, predominantly black school, there were plenty of tests but few right answers.

Editor in chief Victor Tan Chen on what the Trump administration is likely to do for/to America's working class:"In his ...
02/17/2017
Trump’s American Dream: You’ll Have to Be Asleep to Believe It

Editor in chief Victor Tan Chen on what the Trump administration is likely to do for/to America's working class:

"In his pronouncements from the bully pulpit, [Trump] has made it clear that he is about America 'winning'—as he personally, through his attainment of extravagant wealth and fame, believes he has done. But the pursuit of a Trumpian American dream of materialism and self-interest will take us even farther from the civic-minded ideals of the early republic. As rising inequality stamps out opportunities for rags-to-riches stories of success, and the Trump administration’s promises to working people prove to be worthless, that narrow dream of national greatness may, in fact, take on another, darker meaning: as George Carlin put it, 'It’s called the American dream ’cause you have to be asleep to believe it.'"

Read the entire story: http://inthefray.org/2017/02/trumps-american-dream-youll-have-to-be-asleep-to-believe-it/

While there are many reasons why Donald Trump won the election, it’s clear that the movement of the white working class away from the Democratic Party had something to do with it. Given that this demographic seems to have put Trump over the top in the Electoral College, what do we expect his adminis...

Today is the last day to make a tax-deductible donation in 2016 to In The Fray! Support thought-provoking, independent j...
12/31/2016
Donate

Today is the last day to make a tax-deductible donation in 2016 to In The Fray! Support thought-provoking, independent journalism that encourages empathy and understanding: http://inthefray.org/donate

Individual donations are our lifeblood, accounting for the vast majority of our funding every year. Every small amount helps. And every dollar donated to our not-for-profit magazine goes to the work we do—that is, publishing the magazine, paying our writers and artists, and spreading the word about…

In The Fray editor Victor Tan Chen on meritocracy and compassion.
12/22/2016
The Spiritual Crisis of the Modern Economy

In The Fray editor Victor Tan Chen on meritocracy and compassion.

I've written a piece for The Atlantic about the hollowness of our modern economy and the effect it has on the working class. Here is an excerpt: The modern economy privileges the well-educated and highly-skilled, while giving them an excuse to denigrate the people at the bottom (both white and nonwh...

From our latest piece:I ask the young man what is happening. “Assad is bombing Homs,” he says, his eyes still on the scr...
12/19/2016
Waiting in Antalya

From our latest piece:

I ask the young man what is happening. “Assad is bombing Homs,” he says, his eyes still on the screen.

“My family is there,” he adds. “I haven’t been able to talk to them.” He speaks in a flat, almost stoic, tone, with a slight accent to his English. “My sister lives in Homs, but she can’t go out. She’s stuck in her apartment. She can’t get to my parents’ house.”

It’s the late morning, and my wife Mardena and I are headed back to our hostel in Antalya, a city on Anatolia’s southwestern coast. We’ve just returned from a trip to the archeological museum, where we saw a stunning display of Roman mosaics set out under clear glass walkways. As we duck out of the…

Watch the moving POV documentary "What Tomorrow Brings" on PBS tonight at 10 pm / 9 pm Central. Here is our review of th...
10/31/2016
Taught, Post-Taliban: A Review of What Tomorrow Brings

Watch the moving POV documentary "What Tomorrow Brings" on PBS tonight at 10 pm / 9 pm Central. Here is our review of the film, which follows girls in rural Afghanistan determined to get an education in spite of hostility, threats, and violence.

What Tomorrow Brings is an intimate portrait of a girls’ school in rural Afghanistan and the challenges its students face in trying to get an education.

In The Fray editor in chief Victor Tan Chen on the dangers of big data and the extreme meritocracy it helps create (via ...
10/28/2016
Extremely Exhausting

In The Fray editor in chief Victor Tan Chen on the dangers of big data and the extreme meritocracy it helps create (via The Atlantic):

The Atlantic has published a piece I wrote about living in an extreme meritocracy: Increasingly sophisticated data-gathering technologies measure performance across very different domains, from how students score on high-stakes tests at school (or for that matter, how they behave in class), to what…

From our latest piece by Sylvia Arthur (illustrations by Emma FitzGerald):"The bus was a kind of meeting place for them—...
10/17/2016
Only Poor People Take the Bus

From our latest piece by Sylvia Arthur (illustrations by Emma FitzGerald):

"The bus was a kind of meeting place for them—a social club on wheels for the socially excluded. Here, they could step out of the cold, socialize with others like them, and hear the latest buzz on how to make money or get help. In these sorts of ways, riding the bus connected them to the wider city."

Hopewell-Mann is a predominantly Latino neighborhood in the predominantly Latino city of Santa Fe. Close enough to downtown to make it a short commute, yet a world away so that tourism doesn’t quite reach it, it’s a stark reminder of some of the inequalities present in this city.

In The Fray's cover photo
09/27/2016

In The Fray's cover photo

From our latest piece:“Hey, Ching-Chong. Bus fee.”The driver’s words slapped me across the face. I handed him some money...
09/27/2016
Choosing What to Trade

From our latest piece:

“Hey, Ching-Chong. Bus fee.”

The driver’s words slapped me across the face. I handed him some money and waited for my change. Everyone on the bus was silent, watching. “Here you go, Chong-Chong,” he quipped while handing me a coin in return. My face turned red.

“Please don’t call me that. I really don’t appreciate it.” I felt my voice quivering but hoped that it sounded steady.

Being a Peace Corps volunteer is about cultural exchange, but you don’t always get to decide what culture gets exchanged.

From our latest piece: "In Iran, we grieve the loss of a loved one for forty days, with ceremonies on the third, seventh...
09/13/2016
Halva with Tea

From our latest piece: "In Iran, we grieve the loss of a loved one for forty days, with ceremonies on the third, seventh, and fortieth days. We even have specific foods for funerals—halva, a sweet dish made with flour, butter, sugar, and rosewater and decorated with pistachios, is often served to mourners with tea. In America, a culture of positivity, I don’t really know how to mourn. Right after Hal died, I disconnected from my emotions. Eventually, I became angry—at others for their platitudes, and with myself for how long it was taking me to get over his death."

It’s a small coffee shop, a Shingle-style shack with blue trim, listed by Yelp as one of Laguna Beach’s best. Cookies and biscotti lie in a basket in front of the order window. The barista, an upbeat blonde woman in her late fifties, early sixties, comes over to me. As I’m trying to choose what flav...

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