If the year 2020 shook the nation with historic turmoil and a long overdue reckoning, the years that followed have been marked by a need for nuance and understanding.
No stronger voice emerged in this time than Boston Globe columnist Jeneé Osterheldt. Her writing was at once national and personal, buffeted with history but placed firmly in the present. She highlighted stark inequities, both glaring and hidden, and bravely confronted harsh truths.
With “The Hate We Give,” she wrote about data showing a spike in hate crimes by profiling people at the intersection of the demographic data. The piece not only highlighted a disturbing trend, but also put a human face behind the numbers and showed the limits of data to exemplify the true human experience.
In “Will Smith, Chris Rock, and the hypocrisy of us all,” she pushed readers beyond the hot takes following the infamous Oscars slap and made people think more deeply about the societal factors at play.
Her writing could be incredibly powerful when the time called for it. Her column on the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse reminded us of how far we still have to go. With “Simone Biles and the weight of the world,” Jeneé lauded the famous gymnast for prioritizing her own mental wellbeing above the desires of others.
Jeneé also tackled issues of representation with her “A Beautiful Resistanec” series, whether it was the stereotypes that come with breaking glass ceilings, a call to support the trans and queer communities, or reminding us all that disability does not mean invisibility.
Not limited to the printed word, Jeneé was a true pioneer on the digital front. “A Beautiful Resistance” included eight documentary-style videos, nearly two hours of footage, celebrating Black New England residents finding joy within a system built to limit them.
Beyond her writing, Jeneé was a frequent commentator on local and national media, a much sought-after voice for her unique perspectives on issues.
Never has Jeneé’s work mattered more, and that’s why we proudly submit her for the 2022 OJA in commentary.