Blog #36: 400 Years is Today

400 years is a very long time, especially when counting each minute of fear, suffering and hopelessness caused by racism. At the same time, the past is not so long ago; wounds still fester. This paradox – about the length and shortness of history – is embodied by my neighbor Daniel Smith (husband of Loretta […]

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Blog #35: Commemorating a Grim Anniversary

 Two weeks ago in Hampton, Virginia, thousands gathered to commemorate the grim 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African people brought against their will to the British North American mainland. Thanks to a distinguished commission, the occasion was marked by speeches, music, tours, and exhibits honored the resilience and contributions of Africans and […]

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Blog #34: Building Inclusive Neighborhoods

In the first half of the 20th century, African Americans moving into cities were funneled by racist powers into poor neighborhoods. When in 1948 the Supreme Court ruled that racially restrictive housing covenants were unconstitutional (Hurd v. Hodge, Shelley v. Kraemer), the real estate industry created other segregation strategies. Most effective was “blockbusting,” the manipulation […]

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Blog #33: Racism, Real Estate, and Rats

Our president once again stirred up racial animus with a tweet, criticizing Rep. Elijah Cummings and saying that his congressional district “is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Baltimore’s CBS affiliate swiftly pointed out that a company owned by a top presidential advisor, the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, owns and operates properties in the […]

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Blog #32: The Battle for the Ballot: The Voting Rights Act

Racism has affected the battle for the ballot in the United States ever since 1870 when the 15th Amendment supposedly guaranteed the right to vote, regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Almost immediately white supremacists severely restricted that right through legal impediments, police repression, and KKK terrorism. It took enduring the hostility […]

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Blog #31: Great-Grand Paternalist Racism

In blog #30, I connected our current president with the racism of our history, including the ten presidents that owned human beings.  One reader felt I was getting a little “strident,” defined as “loud and harsh; grating.” “Strident” might be an appropriate reaction to 400 years of white supremacy, but my self-righteousness was evident in […]

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400 Years Blog #30 – The Racism of Our Presidents

During the investigation of the Central Park Five, Donald Trump manipulated public opinion by appealing to racism. He paid $85,000 for full-page ads in newspapers with the headline, “Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!” His vengeful words included, “these muggers and murderers…should be forced to suffer.” Michael Warren, who represented the Central […]

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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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