400 Years Blog #29 – When They See Us

While no real harm was done to any woman in the cases of Scottsboro and Emmett Till, in 1989 Trisha Meili was brutally attacked and raped in Central Park. Today at 59 she is still affected by the brain injury the beating caused. When exploring how racism unjustly targeted five teenagers, I also acknowledge the […]

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400 Years Blog #28 – Targeting Black Teens in Scottsboro, the Mississippi Delta, and Central Park

Fictional, exaggerated, and misplaced accusations of sexual assault haunt Black men in America. Over a century of racist promotion of the black sexual predator myth has welded together fearful fantasy and terror.  This myth is alive today in the anxious glances, assumed criminal guilt, and sensational headlines that sell newspapers. White men like me, not […]

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400 Year Blog #27 – What, to Black People, is the 4th of July?

In 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered a speech entitled, “What, to the American slave, is your fourth of July?” It’s worth reading as we prepare for another Independence Day celebration. Douglass said that July 4th revealed to those still enslaved, “the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.”   Douglass continued, “To […]

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400 Year Blog #26 – The Weapon of the Black Sexual Predator Myth

Please visit www.400years.today. Few stereotypes have harmed Black men as much as the myth of “the Black sexual predator.” It wasn’t prevalent before the Civil War when stereotypes defended slavery by representing Black people as childlike, foolish, and in desperate need of “benevolent white control.” After emancipation, however, white portrayals of Black men as uninhibited, […]

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400 Year Blog #25 – White Supremacists Wage War

[PLEASE, before reading this week’s blog, go to www.400years.today and make a commitment] In July of 1863, Union soldiers who had just survived the bloodiest battle of the Civil War at Gettysburg were given a new assignment. They were sent to New York City to protect African Americans from white workers incensed at being drafted […]

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400 Year Blog #23 – Greenwood: The Ugly Paradox of Success

After the Civil War, some Black entrepreneurs overcame Jim Crow laws and white supremacy in their pursuit of “the American Dream.”  In 1900, two decades after his Tuskegee Institute began training Black workers, Booker T. Washington founded the National Negro Business League. Washington counseled that, “economic independence is the foundation of political independence…. Land ownership […]

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400 Year Blog #22 – Is Memorial Day for Everyone?

  On the day when we honor American soldiers killed in battle, the origin of Memorial Day may not seem important to you. However, for many Black Americans it is important. It helps frame how many died defending a country that enslaved and oppressed their people.   Most believe Memorial Day began in 1868 when […]

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400 Years Blog #21 – Education and Liberation

Malcolm X was right: “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” This passport was kept from Black people for centuries. South Carolina’s government denied it in 1740 when they outlawed teaching writing to enslaved people. Virginia denied it in 1819 when it inflicted 20 […]

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400 Years Blog #20 – The Racist Legacy of Inmate Labor

The 13th Amendment didn’t end slavery. It allowed it to continue “as a punishment for crime.” What better way to fill the labor shortage throughout the defeated confederacy? Authorities arrested formerly enslaved people at record rates for vagrancy, unlawful assembly, having a gun, making liquor, and other trivialities. Many were sentenced to hard labor. From […]

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400 Years Blog #19 – Incarceration and Toxic Environments

In my last two blogs I explored how environmental dangers disproportionately threaten schools and neighborhoods where many people of color live. This blog focuses on environmental threats to those sent to prison. Many of you know that people of color are incarcerated at close to five times the rate of whites. But few know that […]

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