Pulitzer Prize-Winning New York Times Investigative Journalist: “Invisible Child: Homeless in America”
Elliott's recent five-part series, Invisible Child, examined homelessness through the lens of an 11-year-old Brooklyn girl, and helped reignite a conversation about the dire state of poverty in America. Elliott is also a distinguished chronicler of Muslims in America. Gaining unparalleled access to the nation's Muslim communities, her stories have explored the travails of a young Egyptian imam in Brooklyn, the challenges of Muslims serving in the U.S. military, and the simmering conflicts between Muslim immigrants and African-American converts to Islam. Her stories broke new ground in the study of radicalization, illuminating why a subset of young western Muslims have taken the militant path.
Homeless Children: Does the American Dream Reflect Who We’ve Become?
Is ours the kind of society that allows children to go homeless? How has the American Dream turned into a nightmare for so many, with one in five children living in poverty? What does this say about our values? In this galvanizing talk, Andrea Elliott tells us the story of Dasani—an 11-year-old homeless girl in Brooklyn whom she reported on for fifteen months. (Raising important questions, Elliott’s award-winning, five-part series is the largest investigative report The New York Times has run at once. It also prompted the city to remove more than 400 children from substandard housing.)
Onstage, with authority and compassion, Elliott relates Dasani’s daily routine, her struggles, her dreams, the system that has failed her, and the groups and people trying to help. What emerges is a stunning portrait of “the human effects of the Great Depression.” “Children are unwitting passengers in a voyage they didn’t choose,” Elliott says. “They have little clout and are voiceless.” In this talk, Elliott offers a powerful corrective: an unblinking, nuanced, and hopeful look into one of the most important and least understood topics of our time.
One Decade, Many Lessons: Islam in a post-9/11 America
More than a decade after 9/11, American Muslims are confronting a stark new reality: mounting opposition to the construction of mosques, congressional hearings into the radicalization of Muslim youth and rising hate crimes against Muslims. Americans hold a less favorable view of Islam today than even after the attacks. What happened?
To answer this question, Andrea Elliott transports her audiences into the little-known world of American Islam—a community in search of itself. As terrorism in the name of Islam endures, Muslims in America are engaged in an urgent quest to reclaim their faith. At the same time, they must reckon with widespread government surveillance and persistent media coverage, driven by a powerful, grass-roots movement that routinely characterizes Muslims as untrustworthy and dangerous.
Elliott mixes gripping, human anecdotes with careful analysis to paint a nuanced and unforgettable portrait of today's Muslim Americans and their opponents. Drawing on award-winning reporting, she illuminates the key themes of the last decade through the stories of young Muslims at a crossroads: alienated teenagers seeking refuge in their faith, women mobilizing for progressive reforms, religious leaders striving to balance the strictures of Islam with the pressures of contemporary American culture. Elliott's lecture traces the evolution of America's Muslims—who they are and how they identify politically, socially and religiously. In the process, she explains what their struggles in America tell us about the broader crisis within Islam and its future in the West.