This year saw massive shifts in the legal and organizing landscape: millions of people lost access to abortion care; climate justice movements and organizers demanded more substantial and essential actions to save our planet; the workers’ rights movement continued to grow and meet new (and old) challenges, and attacks against LGBTQIA+ people continued across the nation. Prism’s guiding principles are collective justice and liberation, and because of that, our coverage of these issues has never been more important. As Prism’s newsroom expanded, so did our coverage. Of the over 400 pieces we published in 2022, we broke new ground across all our verticals and provided critical context to the ever-changing and challenging news cycle.
Because Prism’s staff are also Prism readers, we thought it would be wonderful to share our favorite pieces of the year and why we selected them. They vary across our coverage areas and highlight work unique to our publication and essential to the communities we report alongside.
Reproductive justice must include adoptee voices by Tina Vasquez and selected by Saba Keramati, Operations Manager
I believe this piece embodies some of what Prism does best: examining systems and the narratives society has built around them and then dismantling their harm. This article not only outlines the harm in perpetuating a systemic narrative, it sets up an entire series that allows those impacted by the narrative to shift reader perspectives. In light of the ongoing attacks on reproductive justice, as well as the urgency of the Supreme Court’s upcoming verdict affecting the Indian Child Welfare Act, Prism’s series on disrupting adoption narratives could not come at a more important time.
Putting a face to a movement: Trader Joe’s unionization by Helen Li and selected by Kyubin Kim, Social Media Specialist
Trader Joe’s has always projected the image of being a friendly, quirky neighborhood grocery store with flirty employees, but this feature on the unionization efforts at TJ locations across the U.S. reveals management’s behind the scenes union-busting efforts. Like much of Prism’s worker’s rights reporting, this piece is intersectional in its critique of power abuse and instructional, detailing how workers organize.
Restoring Hawaiian fishponds revitalizes food systems and cultures by Ray Levy Uyeda and selected by Rikki Li, Acting News Editor
In a news cycle that often feels mired in all things dark and depressing, Ray Levy Uyeda’s story on restoring Hawaiian fish ponds feels like a breath of fresh air. The piece is imbued with vivid descriptions and unapologetic context on the damage done by colonization to both the islands’ people and the environment, all while dedicating its focus to the Hawaiians reclaiming and restoring their home. Uyeda’s piece is an excellent example of the stories Prism strives to tell: ones with human cores, ones that offer solutions, and ones that empower.
Deported immigrants are best served by organizer networks, not a ‘benevolent administration’ by Irene Romulo and selected by Tina Vasquez, Editor-at-Large
For the sake of “objectivity,” mainstream media has a tendency to present a skewed image of activists, minimizing both the trusted role they play in their communities and the organizing efforts that lead to real change. Leave it to a movement journalist like Irene Romulo to help correct the record. In her reporting for Prism, she detailed how it wasn’t a “benevolent administration” that helped free an undocumented activist from detention and enabled deported organizers to return home to Chicago. Rather, it was due to mutual aid, collective organizing, and the city’s many solidarity networks. The overarching theme of Romulo’s piece echoes that of other community-based reporting Prism publishes: We keep each other safe.
Disaggregation is essential to achieve data justice for Asian Americans by Jenn Fang and selected by Michi Trota, Features Editor
As a political identity, the label “Asian American” has been critical to coalition building and social movements to advance issues that affect our wider community in the U.S. However, the label has been co-opted, flattening the vast complexity of what it means to be Asian American and erasing entire communities, most often Pacific Islanders. This is an ongoing problem, most recently highlighted by the way much of U.S. news media overlooked the disparities in how COVID-19 affected different Asian American communities, including the disproportionate number of Filipino Americans who’ve died from the coronavirus. Jenn Fang clearly and comprehensively breaks down why disaggregation of data about Asian American communities is desperately needed to truly address the complicated inequities we struggle with in healthcare, immigration, education, economic status, and other issues that get erased when we’re treated as a monolith.
Criminalizing abortion isn’t just about controlling ‘women’s bodies’ by Sherronda J. Brown, selected by Lara Witt, Editorial Director
I picked this piece by Sherronda J. Brown because I revisit it often. It not only provides readers with a critical analysis of the modern reproductive rights and justice movements, but Brown shows us just how essential it is for us to understand how white supremacy and capitalism play an equal role as patriarchy in restricting and criminalizing bodily autonomy and freedom. Without understanding the context of the state of reproductive (un)freedoms in the U.S., we cannot combat them properly. Analyses like this help us do that.
After Art Basel, Miami artists are left with a housing crisis and little power, written and selected by Alexandra Martinez, Senior News Reporter
The trope of the “suffering artist” has been idealized for decades, but what if the artist didn’t have to suffer? I focused my recent reporting on inequities in the Miami artist community because it’s another example of how workers are exploited by elite institutions that profit off their labor. Any working artist living in any major city can relate to what Chire Regans (aka VantaBlack), misael soto, and Paola Katherine Rodriguez are experiencing in Miami: the impossible task of creating art while struggling to survive in an inflated rental market. Institutions like Art Basel—and more broadly fairs, galleries, and museums—offer unsatisfactory wages and almost no protections. et, it is art and artists that people turn to in times of crisis, whether that’s for catharsis, relief, or just a sense of community. But this story is not one without a solution which is to be expected of a Prism story. The artists already have a vision for a union,they just need the time and space to create it.
Libraries are reimagining what public safety and access to resources look like, written by Tamar Sarai, selected by Ashton Lattimore, Editor-in-Chief
Public libraries have long been sites of cultural conflict in the U.S., and their status as battlegrounds has been top of mind this year as right-wing reactionaries target Drag Queen Story Hours or and pursue racist book bans. In the midst of all that, what I appreciated so much about this piece by Tamar Sarai is how it lifts up the ways libraries can also be sites of imagination, care, and abolition. In deeply exploring how libraries are reorienting their work to better serve vulnerable populations, all while negotiating issues like police presence, information access, and privacy, this story cuts to the heart of underlying questions about belonging and who can lay claim to public space. The piece offers up public libraries as an example of an enduring societal institution evolving to give people what they need, and in doing so invites us to keep asking: What else can we do for one another, and how?
Greenwashed advertising falsely promises we can buy our way out of the climate crisis, written and selected by Kimberly Rooney 高小荣
Climate anxiety is a common response when facing the dire, material effects of the climate crisis, and corporations have been quick to capitalize on it. I chose my piece about greenwashing because dispelling the myths about greenwashing and the neoliberal, individualist approach to the climate crisis is the only way to work toward true environmental justice. The promises of carbon neutrality or net-zero emissions that are founded on buying carbon offsets are deceptive, and take time, money, and resources away from actual solutions. Listening to climate scientists, listening to the people most affected by climate catastrophe, and having the will to change our system of exploitative, extractive capitalism is the only way forward.
The LANDBACK series, written and selected by Ray Levy Uyeda
As an editorial team, we often talk about how we orient our stories: Are we focusing on problems or solutions? Who are the people pushing for change who might not be seen as “experts” according to norms established by for-profit media companies? How can we recognize climate change as not just a crisis of environmental care but primarily as a symptom of larger socioeconomic and political schemes? Changing the question of the problem changes the solution. These were the questions that drove the LANDBACK series, in which readers get to learn from Indigenous peoples, land stewards, organizers, artists, professors, and government officials about the deep connection between returning stolen Native land and addressing the greatest threat to all our lives. If you want to take some sort of action after you’re finished reading the series, look up local land trusts or find out what other efforts are ongoing in your community.
The violence we’re used to and the violence we need, written by William C. Anderson and selected by Shabnam Banerjee-McFarland
This year, the violence enacted on LGBTQIA+ people, people of color, immigrants, and other vulnerable communities has pummeled us in news cycles. While this violence is part of the long arc of history, working in a newsroom that builds relationships and partnerships with people from these communities regularly delivers new heartbreak and grief. So, what can we do? This piece by William C. Anderson helped widen my lens on how we can respond to the violence our communities face by rethinking the concept of violence entirely. Against the backdrop of dead-end conversations about civility and politics of respectability in the face of genocide, this piece reframed my thinking about how counterviolence is an intentional disruption of the state-sanctioned violence that our communities have endured for centuries. Counterviolence, counterintuitively, is an offer of peace, safety, and protection.
Abortion is freedom, written by Tina Vasquez and selected by Tamar Sarai
This Spring when the Supreme Court decision leaked, harkening the end of Roe v. Wade, there was endless online discourse, media coverage, and one-on-one conversations that both helped me process the news and also left me overwhelmed. When this piece by Tina was published, it helped ground me in a way that was unexpected but incredibly needed. Tina’s piece marries beautiful prose with vulnerable and honest storytelling that ultimately drives home a laser-sharp point that pierced through all of the noise. While this personal essay was released at a very specific point in the year, it spoke to truths that will always resonate and ought to be on anyone’s reading list for years to come.
There is no ‘return to normal’ for disabled people in a pandemic, written by Princess Avianne Charles and selected by Shirley Vilca, Development Director
The effects of the pandemic will continue to affect us for years to come, but the disabled community is still front and center even as we enter a “return to normal.” As someone with close friends and family who are a part of this community, I see how they continue to be affected by this return to normalcy, and I struggle with what I can do to best support them. This piece is a vital perspective that needs to be uplifted and supported by all of us, especially now when it only seems like the pandemic will continue to be a part of our lives for many years to come.