About a year and a half ago I graced the cover of DigBoston for its 5 Drink Minimum issue. My outing included the Shanghai Club, which no one probably remembers because it closed down a few weeks after I gave it my blistering review. And while it wasn’t a huge titan that I was able to fell with my written word, the place was pretty culturally appropriative, so I still like to think of that 5 Drink as one of the times my writing made a difference.
Jokes aside, most of you reading this have likely followed this column from its accidental birth nearly four years ago. My dear friend and former Dig editor JPat Brown puts it thusly:
With their asymmetric haircut and ratty Cat Flag T-shirt, Emily had the appearance of somebody with Strong Opinions About Things, so I asked them if they’d be interested in sharing those with the reading public. And oh yeah, I need to get this to design in the next hour, so please share those opinions as quickly as possible.
They farted out something about gender, I came up with Free Radical as a placeholder title, and the rest is herstory.
Herstory, indeed, includes calling out state representatives, standing up to Olympic bullies, spreading the gospel of cyclist rights, questioning “end of homelessness” exaggerations, and many more musings on oppression of all kinds. As I prepare to hand over the reins of this column, I’m glad to know that it resonated with at least some of you. I know this because you’ve told me, and all I can say is, thank you for making it matter, even a little bit.
I’ll soon be setting off for an internship at the Marshall Project, the now Pulitzer Prize-winning news organization covering the nation’s criminal justice system. Its mission—“to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system”—has fostered a necessary conversation about a troubling industry. Pushing the conversation has always been what I wanted this column to do, so I hope that I can carry that with me.
I’ll end on this thought: This city needs more daring journalism. I’m glad this column has allowed me to shine a light, however small, on the ills that plague the city. But we need more voices like mine, and more willingness to take risks. (A shout-out to my colleagues at BINJ for actually taking the plunge.) If we are going to salvage any bit of this city for those who aren’t in tech, development, or big pharma, then we need a chorus. So here’s to the future of Free Radical, and the many other voices I hope sing through it.