In 2014, my son Wilson broke both of his arms — wildly displacing one of them — at his twelfth birthday party. Instead of cutting cake and opening gifts, we spent the next seven hours in the Stanford Emergency Room. During our time there, doctors straddled the gurney and yanked Wilson’s arm bones back straight, took X-rays, and applied temporary splints. They also worked on another twelve-year-old boy, who had attempted suicide, on the other side of our partition.

We heard the doctors talking: there had been an argument between the boy and his parents, and then four minutes of…

We Have Two Weeks to Save the State of Georgia from Desecrating Sacred ‘Weeping Time’ Land for a Brewery (and I believe we can)

Butler Island Plantation, a historic site in Darien, Georgia
Butler Island Plantation, a historic site in Darien, Georgia
Butler Island Plantation, sacred ‘Weeping Time’ descendants land, Darien, GA

Please sign the petition to help us save this sacred land.

On March 2 and 3, 1859, at Savannah’s Ten Broeck Racetrack, Pierce Butler sold 436 men, women, and children including 30 babies, many of whom had lived their entire lives together on Butler estates, to buyers and speculators from New York to Louisiana. It was the largest recorded slave auction in US history and it singlehandedly separated hundreds of African American families.

On June 11, 2020, the Georgia Senate’s National Resources Committee will meet to attempt to pass GA House Bill 906, which will enable the state to gift…

The rate of Black land loss doesn’t decrease during a national disaster. In that respect, our legal team came together just in time.

The lawyer I called “Liz” in my last piece didn’t work out. Well-meaning and wise but admittedly not well-practiced in heirs property or eminent domain litigation, she seemed to understand and agree when, after our full-fee consultation in January, our California attorneys Katy and DJ, and Randy and I, decided to go back to the drawing board.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this story can be found by clicking these links.


Our CA legal team and me

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this story can be found by clicking these links.

It seemed obvious to me that in a country grappling with what reparations to Black Americans for slavery and Jim Crow and beyond might look like, what they should not look like was a Black family being forced to spend thousands of dollars on attorney fees if they hoped to save, or simply be paid fair market value for, reparations land they’d held since 1890 as it was converted to a parkway that would enable big corporations like Amazon, Walmart, and Target to…

Photo by Matthias Wagner on Unsplash
  • Spoiler alert: This essay details the last scene of “Slave Play.”
  • Part 1 and Part 2 of this story can be found by clicking these links.

“Understand…” seventy-four-year-old Andrew Quarterman Jr. said to me from across the table as I ate avocado toast at Le Pain Quotidien in Manhattan’s financial district. Our Living Cities board meeting would take place later in the WeWork offices upstairs, on the thirtieth floor. “People don’t want you to do this.”

“This” was telling our story of trying to save the Quartermans’ reparations land from condemnation and unfair market pricing. “This” was telling it far…

Our “Slaves in the City” Tour

For Part 1 of this story, click here.

Last week I caught a red eye to Hilton Head, spent a day recovering, and then my mother, step-father and I drove the 40 miles southwest to Port Wentworth, Georgia, to meet up with my cousin Koelker and his wife, and then with Randy Quarterman and his family — descendants of a man my great-great-great-grandfather, George Adam Keller, had once enslaved and then given reparations land to, which I’ve written about here.

I was both excited and nervous. I had spent the last month relishing my new, remarkable friendship with Randy. We’d…

George Adam Keller Jr. with Rachel Butler in 1889, whom George Adam Keller Sr. had formerly enslaved.

When reparations discussions began to make big news, I didn’t need to understand what, exactly, was being proposed — money, acknowledgements, land, legislation — in order to know in my bones that they were due. The ways in which wealth was built on the backs of Black folks but kept well out of their hands was something my body carried and knew. Then, I knew it vaguely. Now, I know it intimately.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of this story can be found by clicking these links

In the summer of 2019, as Ta Nahesi Coates…

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

There are many different kinds of religion. There is the kind of religion you are forced to observe as a child and that makes you feel shame. There is the kind of religion that lights you up for God as an adult and makes you want to believe. There is the kind of religion — I am good or I am bad, I am this or I am that — like routine prayer inside your head. There is the kind of religion — Let Go and Let God — you adopt to try to ease I need this or I…

Photo by Kamila Maciejewska on Unsplash

In Silicon Valley, I will like starting tech companies in my thirties for the same reasons I liked having open-heart surgery when I was four, or kissing my high school track coach with wine coolers in the parking lots of meets when I was fourteen. I will like it for the same reasons I liked toiling over chemical physics, multivariable calculus, and computer programming in graduate school at twenty-four and pulling all-nighters as a product manager at twenty-eight. …

This essay was originally published in the paper version of Brain, Child Magazine in 2015. This cartoon accompanied it.

Last April my son’s desire to own a smart phone became supercharged, and I started psychotherapy.

For months Wilson and I had been locked in a redundant face off over the appropriate age for texting. He was nearly twelve, and puberty had lassoed itself around his hairless chest. Daily — relentlessly — over every snack, school pick-up, soccer drop-off and meal, he worked in his device-less frustration. This is an overstatement, but barely.

Wilson’s desire to join the throngs of tweens…

Sarah Eisner

Writer, reader, compulsive swimmer and apple fritter eater.

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