Archive for 1999

Springing the Diversity Trap: Thoughts on How Not to Defend Affirmative Action

You know you’re in trouble when Ronald Reagan starts to sound progressive. And you really know you’re in trouble when so-called progressives make him sound that way, thanks to their own pathetic gesticulations on one or another issue. But unfortunately, such is the case with regard to affirmative action. The old saying, “With friends like [...]

The Trouble With Tolerance

They came in the mail again, even though I never ordered them: those personal address labels that say, “Teach Tolerance.” You know, the ones sent out by the Southern Poverty Law Center: America’s favorite civil rights organization. You know, the one run by Morris Dees: America’s favorite crusader for, well, tolerance; which, in turn, is [...]

The Kids are All White: Riots, Pathology and the Real Meaning of Color-Blindness

Published as a ZNet Commentary, August 26, 1999 O.K., so let me get this straight: If people of color respond to an unjust verdict in a police brutality trial, not to mention years of racial and economic oppression, by taking to the streets, burning stuff, looting stores and engaging in assorted violence, it’s called a [...]

Of Hate Crimes Big and Small

Published as a ZNet Commentary, August 12, 1999 There is no question so irrelevant as the one to which most all can respond in like fashion. Thus, to ask folks their views on child molestation, or whether they’d like better schools would be absurd: like asking if they’d rather be happy than sad. So too, [...]

(Mis)Remember When: Whiteness and the Recollection of History

Published as a ZNet Commentary, July 3, 1999 For the writer, there is nothing so frustrating as to find oneself at a total loss for words. To know there are a million things that need saying, and yet you can’t think of a single one. Having experienced this often, I’ve devised a few strategies by [...]

The Threat of a Good Example: Reflections on Hope and Tenacity

Published as a ZNet Commentary, June 20, 1999 Occasionally when I’m speaking to college students, attempting to inspire at least a few to commit themselves to social justice as a way of life and perhaps career, I’m asked the question for which there is no easy answer; the one that goes something like: “What’s the [...]

Blinded by the White: Race, Crime and Columbine High

Published in Z Magazine, June, 1999 Imagine a quiet, suburban community, commonly referred to as a “nice place to live and raise kids.” It’s a community known for civic pride, affluent families, and schools where the students score well above average on aptitude tests. It’s also 93 percent white. Now imagine that at this community’s [...]

The Devil Made ‘Em Do It: Social Crisis and the Misuse of Faith in America

Published as a ZNet Commentary, June 1, 1999 I go through airports about two hundred times a year. As such, I overhear lots of comments from other travelers. Usually they’re of a particularly banal sort, screamed over a cell phone that seems permanently attached to the ear of one of a few thousand interchangeable corporate [...]

Famous Last Words: Exploring the Depths of Racist Conditioning

Published as a ZNet Commentary, April 24, 1999 Every now and then a lesson comes easy. Other times we learn things by accident, if at all; and inevitably it seems, the lessons that matter most, often come from the least likely sources at the most inopportune moments: so much so that if we aren’t paying [...]

Bias by the Numbers: Examining the Data on White Racism

Published as a ZNet Commentary, March 13, 1999 Anyone who does political analysis, advocacy, or organizing knows that folks on all sides of an issue have “numbers.” Trotting out statistics to prove one’s point about something is a well-accepted practice, yet rarely do we stop to think about what certain numbers mean, whether they are [...]