January, 2021

Class of 2022 Call for Applications

New America’s Fellows Program invests in thinkers—journalists, scholars, filmmakers, and public policy analysts—who generate big, bold ideas that have an impact and spark new conversations about the most pressing issues of our day.

Does that sound like you or someone you know? If so, then don’t miss the chance to advance your ambitious idea as a Class of 2022 New America National Fellow!

The deadline to apply is February 1, 2021, @ 11:59 p.m. EST.

Learn more here.

Three questions with...
2016 Fellow Trymaine Lee

Your Fellowship project is a book about the true costs of gun violence in the United States. What inspired the project, and what impact do you hope it will have?

It’s cliché to say that I didn’t choose the book but the book chose me, but it’s true. What began as an exploration into the many ways in which gun violence costs society in terms of dollars and the more intangible costs, really became an exploration into the ways in which violence has affected me. The seeds for the book were planted many years ago when I was a local newspaper reporter in Philadelphia and grew as I moved from city to city covering the heartbreaking results of gun violence. But it more recently became clear that there was no way for me to cover the topic with any depth or nuance if I didn’t engage with how my family has been touched by it time and again. And how two decades of reporting on violence and trauma reshaped me in profound ways. I hope it reveals something fundamental about life, death and a specific kind of American experience.

You’ve spent much of your career chronicling the role of race, violence, law enforcement, and politics in the lives of everyday Americans. Since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and this summer's demonstrations, many more writers and reporters are writing about protests and racial equity. What advice do you have for someone writing about these issues for potentially the first time?

The key to understanding this moment in the context of the movement for Black lives and writing about it with any heft, let alone authenticity, is to really educate yourself on the true history that led us to this moment. There are many really smart, really educated journalists and writers who don’t fully grasp how complicit the U.S. government, and white Americans more generally, have been in maintaining America’s racial caste system. Start with that basic premise. There is a caste system that is reinforced by our systems, structures and institutions. And that the threads of anti-Black racism (America’s preferred and perfected form of racism) are central to America being America. It’s not the whole of us, but it’s been a guiding principle. I think that’s an important jumping off point in order to digest and understand this moment chunk by chunk. Read, listen and synthesize with that filter.

Along with hosting the podcast Into America you write op-eds and articles, like your piece about the wealth gap for "The 1619 Project". What makes a story catch your eye? Do you take a different approach to storytelling based on the topic?

I think about stories as puzzle pieces. I’m drawn to the kinds of stories that help us see ourselves more clearly. I look for stories that help fill a gap in our understanding of who we are, where we’ve been or where we might be headed. Sometimes it’s just a sliver of the big picture. But it’s a puzzle piece, nonetheless. I’m drawn to people and places that carry scars, the kind that welt. I love survivors. And defiant ones. I find myself gravitating to stories that live somewhere between life and death, hope and hopelessness. I think that’s where the humanity lives. I tend to have a narrative impulse regardless of the topic. I never met a narrative lede that I didn’t love. Give me all of the honey and vinegar and roughhewn edges that bristle beneath fingertips. But sometimes you have to just cut to the bone gristle. You have to know when to play it straight.

Hot Off The Press

Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration

A poignant and eye-opening call to arms that reveals how laws, rules, and regulations extract a tangible cost not only from those working to rebuild their lives, but also our democracy.

Publication date: February 2.

Available for pre-order through our bookselling partner Solid State Books here.

By: Reuben Jonathan Miller, Class of 2019

Two Cents

National Fellows on the best advice they've gotten from another writer.

1: This isn't advice I got directly, but Gwendolyn Brooks said in a talk that her poem "The Pool Players: Seven at the Golden Shovel" was inspired by seeing a group of kids skipping school. She said, "Instead of asking myself why aren't they in school, I asked myself, I wonder how they feel about themselves." I love that question and it guides a lot of the stories I try to tell. — Eve L. Ewing, Class of 2021

2: The best advice that I've ever gotten from a writer is to write daily...incrementally. Little by little, it adds up and results in a finished project. This is especially important now as I have less and less time to write in my current position. — Donna Patterson, Class of 2016

3: It's tempting never to stop reporting, but sometimes you need to start writing to see what you have and what you still need. — Jonathan Blitzer, Class of 2021


Read our Year in Review for an overview of Fellows' accomplishments in 2020.

Reuben Jonathan Miller wrote for Politico about laws and regulations that make it almost impossible for the formerly incarcerated to reintegrate fully into civilian life.

Daniel Kurtz-Phelan has been named the seventh editor of Foreign Affairs. 


New America Events

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INSide Out: Youth-Led Policy in the Heartland

Join New America Indiana in highlighting a youth policy fellowship working to improve systems serving youth and families. Learn More


Afrofuturism's Reimagined Tomorrows

Join Future Tense for a conversation about how Afrofuturism extends beyond film into literature, music, dance, and fashion—and even politics. Learn More


Robert E. Lee and Me

Join the International Security Program for a discussion of Ty Seidule's new book on race, the military, and the lost cause myth. Learn More

Reading this month

Octavia Butler is the thinker for our times. This incredible African-American woman not only foresaw our moment with uncanny prescience, her writing shows us how to live through it.

— Cecilia Aldarondo, Class of 2021

Learn More

This intellectual autobiography by the creator of the theory of multiple intelligences is a fascinating look at the life and career of a thinker who argues that the capacity to synthesize information from a wide variety of sources is a valuable and underappreciated ability. I agree!

— Annie Murphy Paul, Class of 2014

Learn More

Sometimes you just gotta re-read the classics, especially when your first time through was as an inattentive college student.

— Jonathan Blitzer, Class of 2021

Learn More

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We are storytellers who generate big, bold ideas that have an impact and spark new conversations about the most pressing issues of our day.

The three who put this together

Sarah Baline + Sophie Nunnally + Awista Ayub

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