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LEVEL
Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

Writing

In LEVEL. More on Medium.

Like many writers, I tend not to respond to comments. But it’s time for some exceptions.

A yellow paper quote bubble on a fishing hook with a blue background.
A yellow paper quote bubble on a fishing hook with a blue background.
Photo: Javier Zayas Photography/Getty Images

I have been told several times over the years that, as a writer, I internet wrong. That seems to mostly hinge on a personal rule I put in place a few years back: With rare exceptions, I don’t respond to comments on my work.


As a Mexican American poet, tapping into my interior meant breaking through a shell of expectations for men of color

Art by Lisa Max (Oakland School for the Arts student)

Stage One: Body

There’s something distinctly violent about piñatas. How they’re formed from discarded scraps into a beautiful fragility that we publicly destroy — a celebratory smashing at a young age. How they’re colorfully filled with sweets and goods to be grabbed by a hustle of hands once their insides are spilled. How, at parties, we act as both witnesses and participants in this act of playful breakage.


For people facing long sentences and even deportation, contact with the outside world is crucial

Photos: courtesy of Kelly Savage

On August 31, after 15 years, Patricia Waller was on the brink of being released from the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF). Instead of tasting freedom, though, she found herself heading hundreds of miles to a Colorado detention facility after California Governor Gavin Newsom handed her over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Waller was born in Belize — a country she has few remaining ties to but will soon be returning to against her will.


Living and documenting Black pain is too much of an ask

Photo: Jon Feingersh Photography Inc/Getty Images

Black writers are expected to write about pain.


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Full stop

9. Curly bracket

In all honesty, this is only here so we can curse its existence. The handlebar mustache of punctuation (and not just because it looks like one). Shout out to all the programmers using it to write code, but how do you live with yourselves?

8. Exclamation point

Once the scotch bonnet of sentence-enders — punch and spice just when you needed it — societal overuse has turned it into a rote display of empty enthusiasm. For real! There’s no more off-putting way to make a first impression! Or end an email! …


Fiction

In a powerful fable for our times, a traveler arrives in a strange city during a crisis

Photo: d3sign/Getty Images

And after one of those journeys that involved the drawing of an imaginary line across the Earth, a flight that brought her to the gleaming nowhere of an airport in the early hours of the morning, the traveler caught another flight, around noon, and continued her journey. She spent six hours on this second plane, or it might have been 16 hours; the difference between the two was difficult to tell in that airborne suspension. The traveler’s wristwatch made one claim, her calendar made another, and her jet-lagged body made a third. Finally, around midday, the plane began its approach…


I am Black and White. My last name is Gray. And I exist in the middle.

Dad & me.
Dad & me.
The dudes. Photo: Shiloh Gray

As a kid growing up in upstate New York, my skin color was an anomaly.


Language can be a battleground — and I choose to wage war on the confines of convention

Credit: Maskot/Getty Images

Let me state, emphatically, that I do not hate White people. Quite to the contrary, I love White people. I just hate what some have done and continue to do to Black words, thoughts, appeals, and feelings. Let me also state, with the same enthusiasm, that the United States has never liked me. With the constant erasure of Black culture, White America still makes it inherently clear that the color, gloss, and hue of my skin unsettle the puppeteers of the nation’s power structures.


Welcome to Medium’s new publication for Black and Brown men. Tell us your stories.

Photo: Andrew Neel/Unsplash

Welcome to LEVEL. We’re new! (For now, at least.) It’s important to know what we’re trying to do here, the kinds of stories we want to run, and how to maximize your chances of writing those stories.

Our mission and our readers

It’s simple: We aim to fundamentally change what you think of when you hear the phrase “men’s publication,” and to do so through and for the worldview of Black and Brown men. To unpack that a bit:

  1. “Men” is a broad descriptor, and we intend to reflect that breadth. If we run a piece about sex or relationships, the piece will, whenever possible…

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