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Our Best Social Justice Stories of 2017

The best stories include adversity and injustice, but also triumph.

From the theft of American Indian cultures to the social media tactics of the alt right, Pacific Standard spent this year covering social justice issues both old and new. Below, we've listed 10 of our favorite stories from the past year that both uncover inequities and illuminate their solutions.

Don't worry, they're not all heavy reads. Try "The Miseducation of Frank Waln" for some fresh lyrics and "Down Syndrome and the Stories We Tell" for pure uplift. Happy holidays.

  • "The Touch of Madness," by David Dobbs
    Culture profoundly shapes our ideas about mental illness, which is something psychologist Nev Jones knows all too well.
  • "The Making of a Mexican American Dream," by Sarah Menkedick
    Despite the rhetoric and hate crimes, Mexican immigrants are poised to reframe American culture, if white people would only let them.
  • "The Theft of the Gods," by Kathleen Sharp
    On the trail of looters and crooks who traffic in Hopi ceremonial objects.
  • "The Tragedy of Debbie Daley," by John H. Tucker
    Inside the twisted world of for-profit prison health care.
  • "Driven Out," by Kate Wheeling
    All along the California coastline, city officials are playing a cat-and-mouse game with RV dwellers, crafting legislation that effectively forces them out of town—and continues the eternal quest for a parking place to call home.
  • "How Kentucky Is Leading the Way in Addiction Care for Pregnant Women," by Francie Diep
    PATHways, an innovative, new program housed at the University of Kentucky, provides both prenatal and addiction care to mothers with substance use disorders. So far, it's having positive results.
  • "LOL Klans," by Malcolm Harris
    A scholar of the Ku Kux Klan explains how the KKK used the same trolling tactics as the alt-right.
  • "The Miseducation of Frank Waln," by Tony Rehagen
    On and off the reservation, American schools tend to whitewash the stories of Native Americans. Frank Waln, a Lakota hip-hop artist from He Dog, South Dakota, is endeavoring to change that—with music that champions his heritage while demolishing Native American stereotypes.
  • "Down Syndrome and the Stories We Tell," by David M. Perry
    The author's son is non-verbal, but the boy's reactions to stories and films reveal that he's competent in ways he can't yet express — and that his dad can't fully understand.
  • "Stories of Forbidden Love," by Robin Hammond
    Photographing LGBT citizens in countries where homosexuality is still criminalized.