race relations tagged posts

Not Your Typical Reunion: Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods”

A few minutes into Spike Lee’s newest film, “Da 5 Bloods,” there is a lovely scene of old pals, African American Vietnam veterans, reuniting in the lobby of a Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) hotel after an unspecified long hiatus from each other’s company. The mood is jocular, joshing, loving, full of huge smiles and secret code handshakes, all of which engendered a gushy inner glow in this viewer, reminding me as it did of warm-hearted reunions of my own.

Then I got a grip on myself and interrupted my reverie with, “Oh crap, this is a Spike Lee movie!”

Which is when my thoughts shifted instead to donning some kind of emotional flak jacket and tension reduction helmet, the better to withstand the next two and a half hours of what I knew would be Lee’s visionary provocations, challenges, goads and questionings of the American experience, particularly with respect to race relations and the centuries-long ...

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One Step Forward and a Sideways Slide: Racial Politics in the Obama Era

Hardly have time to catch our breath or remember the exact names and places of carnage anymore, do we?

Orlando, San Bernardino, Charleston, Newtown, Aurora…was Columbine even in this century? (It wasn’t; the year was 1999, 38 U.S. mass shootings ago.)

And most recently, Baton Rouge and Dallas.

Begetting the question: Is our country falling apart?

To which the short and direct answer is “No.”

But it takes some doing and a substantial amount of reality testing to get there, given the long and vivid reach of modern media and the potent effect it has on our consciousness. If we look only at the litany of racially tinged events—the multiple killings of unarmed black men by police, and the recent wave of retaliatory murders of police officers—we might surmise we are on the brink of another civil war, with the racial divide as deep as it was in the 1960s...

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Familiarity, Contempt, and the Donald Sterling Saga

Familiarity breeds contempt, goes the old saying. What a colossal falsehood.

Familiarity is the only thing that will save the planet and its people from terrorism, ethnic cleansing, racial wars, religious wars, land disputes, gender hostility, gay phobias, nationalist fevers, and the thousand and one other prejudices and wedges that have for so long served to divide humans as if they were different species doomed to devour each other as part of the natural way of things.

Crossing borders of all kinds—whether geographic, cultural, racial, religious or whathaveyou—is always and everywhere the precursor to understanding, acceptance, and appreciation of others, not merely in their otherness, but in the far more vast expanse of commonality we share as humans.

Familiarity also corrodes ignorance, breaks it down, renders it stupid and passé...

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