racism tagged posts

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”: A Meditation

Every person, country, and culture carries a wound. For all its wonder and joys-a-waiting, life leaves virtually everyone bruised and torn by some deep hurt, some natural catastrophe, personal betrayal, shattered dream or misguided intention that leave us chastened, sobered, aware not only of our intense vulnerability to being hurt, but also our own capacity to fail others and cause pain in return.

We are born into a broken world, a stark fact that every religion this side of the most happy-talking prosperity gospel has affirmed throughout history.

America’s deep, still festering wound is slavery and the institutionalized, abiding racism and oppression it has left in its wake. Slavery was so monstrous, its premises and practices so inimical to our stated beliefs that “all (people) are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights,” so contrary to our goal of paving the wa...

Read More

Selma and McKinney and the Long Jagged Road to Equality

Experienced the most curious juxtaposition of “movies” the other day. In the morning, a phone camera video of a white police officer with his knee in the back of a prone African-American teenage girl in a bikini. As two boys run toward the scene in what looks to be an almost instinctual gesture in defense of the girl, the officer pulls his gun from his holster and runs them off before going back to subjugating the girl, who is lying face down on the grass, her hands cuffed behind her.

No great production values and short duration, but a scene of undeniable impact.

In the evening, home with the daughter, I suggested we consider renting a movie. She immediately piped up, “Have you seen Selma? I’d see it again!” She had watched it in her history class.

I hadn’t seen Selma, one of countless movies that make it onto my loosely held list that never quite make it off that list before their very exist...

Read More

Trayvon Martin and the Bitter Legacy of “Strange Fruit”

None of us, save for George Zimmerman, will ever know exactly what happened the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin at close range with a bullet from his 9 millimeter semi-automatic handgun. Reactions to the killing and Zimmerman’s eventual acquittal fell along the usual and predictable faultlines of American life: African-Americans and white liberals decrying the verdict as racially tinged, with most other whites and conservatives pointing to inconclusive evidence in supporting the acquittal. According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted early this week and cited by NPR, “86 percent of African-Americans expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict, compared with just 30 percent of whites.”

Determining Zimmerman’s legal culpability was a matter for the jurors to decide, and the jurors have spoken...

Read More