Archive for August, 2014

James Baldwin on The Dick Cavett Show, 1968

A great and brief clip of Baldwin on Dick Cavett, explaining racism to folks who clearly don’t get it. Here, Baldwin explains the irrelevance of whether or not whites are prejudiced against blacks, noting that the real issue is how white institutions treat folks of color, regardless of intent, bigotry or hatred. A lesson worth [...]

Hard on Systems, Soft on People: Fighting for Social Change as If People Matter

“Be hard on systems, but soft on people.” I’m sure this nugget of wisdom has been around for more than a while, but it was only about a year or so ago that I heard it: spoken into the room where several were gathered — parents and faculty at our daughters’ school — to discuss [...]

Resurrecting Apartheid: White Police and Politicians are Waging War on Black America

It seems like no exaggeration to suggest that at this moment, a half-century after the greatest victories of the civil rights movement, America is drifting backwards towards apartheid. It’s not a word I use lightly, nor one we are accustomed to using when describing our current condition. Indeed, its not even a word that most [...]

Tears of a Clown: Robin Williams, Suicide and Some Reflections on Sadness

It’s hard to know how to begin this time. Mostly it’s because my head is spinning, but also it’s because this isn’t my normal literary wheelhouse, so there is no store of pithy anecdotes to which I can turn in search of just the right words. It is as simple as this, I suppose: Robin [...]

“You Don’t Really Know Us…” 5th Graders in Chicago Brilliantly Confront Media Imagery

Amazing and powerful discussion on NPR with two 5th graders from Chicago (South Shore), whose essay (along with their class), entitled “You Don’t Really Know Us,” was published in the Chicago Tribune. Powerful testament to the ability of even 10 or 11 year olds to see through the phony, hostile and prejudicial media narratives that [...]

Nativist Americans: Immigration, Historical Memory and the Dishonesty of Modern Racism

Although I am hardly known for waxing nostalgic over the American past or its white people in particular, there is one thing that can be said for such folks in the old days. When they were bigots, they were honest enough to just tell you. No prevarication, no hesitation, no pretending to be enlightened or [...]