• Essay

    How the Pandemic Changed My Time in Prison

    An Inmate Reflects on Nearly Three Years of Shifting Health Protocols and Halted Rehabilitation Efforts

    by David Medina

    Intense debates about the role of government interventions in public health became the norm during the pandemic ...

Connecting California

Goodbye to My Family's Last Okie Migrant, Who Taught Us to Be Californian

The Passing of Great Aunt Fern Marks an Era's End

by Joe Mathews

We ain’t Okies anymore.
  My great aunt Fern was the last member of our big California family to be born in Oklahoma. But she never much cared for author John Steinbeck’s portrayals of her fellow Okies, in The Grapes of Wrath and other books, as the noble epitome of American working-class struggle.
  We Okies were just people, she would say—no better than all the other people who migrated to California, and who sent their kids to the public schools where she taught for more than 40 years.
  She was right about that, with one big caveat. Migrant families sometimes have one person who is more than ordinary, and thus changes the family’s trajectory. On my mother’s side of the family, that person was Fern. Before her, we were a family of poorly-educated migrant cotton-pickers in eastern Oklahoma. Today, we’re mostly middle-class Californians, some of us with fancy university degrees ...


How Germany Developed a ‘Policy on the Past’

A Constellation of Days Has Emerged to Remember the Holocaust and Its Victims

by Theo Schiller

Germany does not have a traditional, centuries-old national holiday, such as July 14 in France or July 4 in the United States.
  But Germany is carefully attuned to dates, and how they might be used to reckon with the history of dictatorships, encourage the maintenance of memorial sites, and spark remembrance in ways that draw the public to past sins, and provide vital information and moral orientation.
  Reckoning with and making restitution for the Nazi dictatorship of 1933­–1945, World War II, and the deaths and persecution of millions occupies Germany to this day—and probably will forever. The ongoing German work of remembrance around dates also should remind us of how frequently used phrases like “coming to terms with the past” (“Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung”) or “processing the past” constitute a rather helpless vocabulary, and provide only a generalizing veil ...

  • The Takeaway

    Los Angeles Sends Writers in Novel Directions

    Three Authors Share How the City Inspired and Influenced Their Stories

    It is said that Los Angeles lacks a literary pulse—that the flash and glam of Tinseltown overpowers the cultural terrain. But writers here deftly channel this city’s rhythms, spinning fictions of folly and fortune that unfold under its roofs and along its streets. Last week, Zócalo, together with the Library Foundation’s ALOUD, honored L.A.’s literary side in a lively discussion with Fatimah Asghar, Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi, and Ryan Lee Wong, …