Archive for May, 2003

The Mother of All Racial Preferences: Reflections on Affirmative Action for White Folks

A slightly different version of this essay appeared as a ZNet Commentary, 5/24/03 Ask a fish what water is and you’ll get no answer, and not only because fish can’t speak. Even if they were capable of vocalizing a reply, they wouldn’t have one for such a question. When water surrounds you every minute of […]

Cleaning Up the Funk: Commencement Speech at Grinnell College, 2003

Published on ZNet,, 5/20/03 Thank you very much, to the administration, faculty, assembled guests and parents but mostly to the graduating seniors, who for some totally inexplicable reason have chosen me to give today’s commencement address. I am still convinced that there must have been some terrible, terrible mistake, perhaps some kind of vote […]

Inventing Jayson Blair: Reflections on White Privilege and Hypocrisy

Published as a ZNet Commentary, May 19, 2003 If Jayson Blair did not exist, white America would have to create him. The confirmed New York Times plagiarist and all-around journalistic con man, after all, is the perfect foil for those whites who have always needed to find a dark face capable of confirming pre-existing biases […]