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Rachel Parsons

Writer - Editor - Teacher

Piles of Books
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About Rachel

A proud Midwesterner, Rachel grew up in Southeast Michigan, one of the most segregated regions in the country. Coming of age in the 1990s, she spent her teen years deep in the Detroit music scene, relishing the creativity and power of a city that was grappling with itself amidst a long history of social inequality. It wasn’t until she was a young adult, though, that she began to learn what it meant to be a white kid from a white suburb, built on the back of one of the Blackest cities in America.


Rachel’s love of Detroit and a new sense of accountability moved her downtown after graduating college, where she served as an editor and contributor for Critical Moment Magazine, a grassroots publication devoted to local politics and culture. This experience, along with her media justice and labor organizing work, woke her up to the power of writing to support, engage, and transform communities from the bottom-up. She also became passionate about education justice, and, in 2007, was awarded a teaching fellowship in New York City.


She moved east and became a high school math teacher. Rachel developed a deep love for New York, learning the city through its youth and her fellow educators. Her students taught her a lot about resilience, creativity, and the healing power of laughter; they solidified her understanding that listening is always the first step.


Though Rachel loved teaching math, she missed writing full time. After eight years in the classroom, she went on to pursue an MFA in creative nonfiction at Sarah Lawrence College. Since graduating, she’s taught writing at Barnard College, Pace University, and the City Colleges of Chicago. She has worked in multiple editing capacities as well: editor-in-chief of LUMINA Vol. XVI: Borders and Boundaries, copyeditor and 2017 Editorial Fellow at GUERNICA, and production editor at Post Road Magazine.

Rachel returned home to the Midwest in 2018 and is now based in Chicago. Her work is fueled by her relationship to her three home cities, her commitment to justice, and her desire to understand what makes us fully human. She writes about education, race, gender, family, parenthood, sexuality, body politics, and culture.  


Rachel continues to work with students across multiple subject areas while she and her partner parent their child and two cats.

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“You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can't, but also knowing that literature is indispensable ... The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even but a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.”

James Baldwin

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