Showing up: learning, writing, and taking action

Medium Writers Newsletter: Writing tips, updates, and spotlights

Medium Creators
The Medium Blog
Published in
6 min readJun 12, 2020


Illustration: Kawandeep Virdee

There is solidarity in writing. Now is a time of pain, anxiety, and anger caused by anti-Black racism and police brutality. We are witnessing a growing movement striving toward racial justice. Across Medium, writers are sharing stories of their experiences, of allyship, and how to move forward toward a better reality for Black Americans.

Ramesh A Nagarajah shares his experiences in “Reflections from a Token Black Friend:” “I was no older than 12 or 13, and I already understood that the police would not be inclined to help me. It was only funny to my friends because they’d never had those sorts of conversations.”

Mike Muse describes the exhaustion and impact of microaggressions: “We don’t have the privilege to be color-blind, to live in a utopian world where race doesn’t exist, to walk around and engage with others, and not see the color of their skin.”

Elyse Cizek emphasizes the need to go past social media solidarity and face one’s own racist conditioning: “I want to know when it was that you realized that you’re a racist. Because you have been. I have been too.”

Barack Obama outlines a strategy for change: “If we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.”

See more stories from across the platform on fighting against racism in “Our Favorite Stories About How to Be a True Ally,” from GEN Platform Editor Amanda Sakuma.

Introducing Momentum

Momentum is a new Medium blog about the fight against anti-Black racism, lead by Medium editors Jada Gomez, Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, and Tracey Ford. From the editors: “Collectively, Momentum, Medium’s blog unpacking anti-Blackness, aims to amplify the voices dedicated to dismantling racism in all of its facets. Every system — from police brutality and anti-Black vigilantism to redlining and colorism — needs to be eradicated, full stop. How do we truly move forward? We confront the problem, examine the systems that form this oppressive society, and use our energy to create a new narrative.” Read the launch announcement in “Welcome to Momentum.”

Your stories of showing up, working toward racial justice

It’s been powerful reading stories across the platform. “I found story after story, dispatch after dispatch, of people taking to Medium to share their thoughts, feelings, predictions, and experiences,” writes Siobhan O'Connor, VP of Editorial at Medium. “This is how I spend most of my Saturdays, but this one felt different. There were even more of you, and an even more diverse set of voices, from across the country.” Here is a place where you can share your stories of learning, processing, and of taking action toward racial justice. We welcome you to share your stories, and link to them in the responses here.

Product Updates: Newsletters, responses, and a smoother reader experience

Medium Newsletters give you a new way to connect and share with your readers. “Four years ago, we launched Letters to help Publications connect with their audience directly in their readers’ inboxes,” writes Product Manager Brad Artziniega. “Since then, we’ve seen the efficacy of this tool for publishers. We’ve also seen opportunities to improve it to help creators better reach and grow their audience.” You can create a newsletter for your publications on Medium, use the Newsletter editor to write, and promote your newsletter with single-click subscribing. Learn more about Newsletters in “Medium Newsletters: A new way to connect with readers.”

You may have already noticed it, but we’ve shipped an update for responses. From Product Manager Russ d'Sa: “Now, when you read through or participate in a conversation on Medium, you’ll be greeted with a fresh design, which unifies a story and the discussion happening around it.” Responses show up right next to a story, and you can easily add to the discussion, making it far easier to connect with your readers and other writers. Learn more in “A New Responses Experience.”

This next update is much more subtle, yet so important, especially for how readers see your story. We reduced the prominence of in-app messaging prompts, in order to bring more focus to the story. Full-screen pop-ups were removed, the meter was redesigned, and the “open in app” prompts were made less intrusive. Read more about this update in “How Medium is Improving its Writer and Reader Experience.”

Story spotlights on the platform

Medium editors are on the lookout for great stories published on the platform and work with the authors to edit and produce the stories. Just like last month, we’ll spotlight a few stories that Medium editors found and brought into their publications. What makes a story resonate? There’s a variety of reasons — read more to learn what the platform editors found compelling about these stories in particular.

We Must Fight Face Surveillance to Protect Black Lives” by Joy Buolamwini

One of my favorite things about Medium is how the platform allows writers to tell all kinds of stories — personal essays, breaking news stories, op-eds, and so much more. As May ended and June began, it became increasingly clear that many in the United States and around the world needed more education and information about the harms of systematic racism and police brutality. We were also hungry for more resources to help effect change. In this piece, Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, talks about how facial recognition technology disproportionately burdens Black people and she offers resources for readers to learn more and to act. — Megan Morrone, platform editor at OneZero

Mom, Why Don’t You Have Any Black Friends?” by Michelle Silverthorn

Right now, many white parents I know seem to be on a quest for anti-racist resources to share with their kids. They’re asking: “What books can I buy? What movies can I rent? What podcasts can I play?” Writer Michelle Silverthorn says not so fast. In this thought-provoking piece, she shares a list of questions to ask yourself before you start talking to your children about race. While answering the questions in my head, I found myself uncomfortable at times. It turns out that’s the point. — Michelle Woo, senior platform editor at Forge

How to Tell If a Company’s Black Lives Matter Statement Actually Means Anything” by La'Nita Johnson

A perfect example of a writer not only pointing out a problem and framing it in a timely context, but going the extra mile to offer clear, actionable steps for leaders and companies to take to address their mistakes. International trainer and educator La'Nita Johnson explains what’s missing from the “tone-deaf messages” of solidarity we’ve all seen shared across social media or sent to our inboxes, and goes step-by-step using relevant recent examples to show us what needs to be included in a company’s BLM statement. — Jean-Luc Bouchard, senior platform editor at Marker.

Medium Writers Twitter

We’ve started a Medium Writers Twitter to showcase some of the variety of stories on the platform, and also to share updates for writers. We’ve been sharing tips, advice, and stories from across the platform — as we do here, just on a more regular basis. If you haven’t already, follow us on Twitter.

May earnings payouts

By the 8th of each month (so in this case June 8), we initiate the payments for the prior month’s earnings. Please allow 3–7 business days to receive the May earnings payouts in your Stripe account. Based on member engagement from this period:

  • 60.7% of writers or publications who wrote at least one story for members earned money.
  • 5.4% of active writers earned over $100.
  • $35,379.72 was the most earned by a writer, and $6,844.29 was the most earned for a single story.

Learn more about earning money for your best writing with the Medium Partner Program.

Words to write by

This month’s writing inspiration encourages writers to write about what they learn in their journey toward anti-racism. In “20+ Ways White Writers Can Support the Black Community,” Shannon Ashley shares several ways to show up, including through writing.

By all means, please be open and honest about your journey. Other white people need to know how you went from insisting that white privilege didn’t exist to demanding reparations for Black people. We need to make it okay for people to change their ways.

For more writing advice on this subject, see John Gorman’s story “A Guide For Writers Who Want To Do Better.”

Check out the stories in the Writing topic, and follow Medium Writers for more inspiration and advice on writing. Feel free to share this newsletter with friends who might be interested in writing.

Keep at it,

Kawandeep, Writer Advocate

This monthly newsletter for writers is from Medium Writers. Learn more about how Medium supports great writers through the Medium Partner Program. If you’re in the Partner Program, see your dashboard here.



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