Category: Race & Ethnicity

A Prayer for the Mothers

Photo credit: Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Photo credit: Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

.
Two days before Michael Brown was shot dead in the streets of Ferguson, MO, I was watching old media footage surrounding the 1955 murder of Emmitt Till.

I was struck by the grace and poise of Emmitt’s mother, Mamie Till Bradley. She insisted Emmitt’s funeral—attended by tens of thousands of mourners—be open-casket. She invited the whole world into her pain and grief. She demanded we all face the evil and inhumanity of her son’s death.

And now I watch history repeat itself, as it has too many times before.

And I keep thinking about Lesley McSpadden. I keep trying to imagine what she is going through.

But I can’t, really. I’ve never had to raise a black son in America. (more…)

The Restoration of Dignity (Further Thoughts From ‘Unbroken’)

dignity defiinition

I appreciate all the fun comments and scoop you’ve shared (here and on Facebook) in response to my last post, about April’s Book Club selection, Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand.

I wanted to write a little more, about one passage in the book that stood out to me. I don’t remember another point in the book when Hillenbrand so clearly broke from the narrative to give commentary, as she did here:

“When the guards weren’t venting their fury at the captives, they entertained themselves by humiliating them…

The crash of Green Hornet had left Louie and Phil in the most desperate physical extremity, without food, water, or shelter. But on Kwajalein, the guards sought to deprive them of something that had sustained them even as all else had been lost: dignity. This self-respect and sense of self-worth, the innermost armament of the soul, lies at the heart of humanness; to be deprived of it is to be dehumanized, to be cleaved from, and cast below, mankind. Men subjected to dehumanizing treatment experience profound wretchedness and loneliness and find that hope is almost impossible to retain. Without dignity, identity is erased. In its absence, men are defined not by themselves, but by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live…

(more…)

Will We Listen to Trayvon?

Trayvon

“This morning new evidence has turned up in the case of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin…”

New video footage.

New recordings of 911 phone calls.

New eyewitness accounts.

And so again, we Americans get caught up in a news story about a tragedy, a violent death. If history repeats itself, we will spend the next weeks, months—or even years if it goes to trial—sorting through every little detail of the case.

Each side will pick and choose which aspects of the story we would like to focus on, while conveniently leaving out or minimizing other points. We will build our own case for why our side is right, and the other side wrong.

And once again, those “sides” will largely fall along racial lines.

(more…)

BOOK CLUB: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

19daa-autobiography-of-martin-luther-king-jrI’m not quite finished with The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. But I want to keep the book club on schedule, so I’m sharing my thoughts on it today anyway.

His entire story has inspired me so far—as evidenced by the underlined passages on almost every page I’ve read!

What a gift, to get inside Dr. King’s head as he…

…processed his experience as a minority in our country:

“The first time I was seated behind a curtain in a dining car, I felt as if the curtain had been dropped on my selfhood.”  (more…)

Go See ‘Red Tails’ This Weekend!

tuskegee airmen
Real-life Tuskegee Airmen

.
George Lucas struggled for 23 years to make the movie “Red Tails.” The film is inspired by the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators to see combat, during World War II. The film is patriotic, inspirational, and action-packed. It stars Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr.Why? Because it features an all-black cast. Black protagonists. Black supporting cast. White people are peripheral to the story.

And Hollywood won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole.

It’s not a story about the plight of African Americans and how a noble white person entered their world and saved the day. (See “The Blind Side,” “The Help,” etc.) It’s an old-fashioned, American-flag-waving war movie. The heroes just happen to be black.  (more…)

Thoughts on MLK’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’

5c38b-mlk-in-birmingham-jail
Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis

.
This weekend our nation celebrates one of our history’s greatest leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Earlier this week, my friend Kristy mentioned a blog post featuring a quote from Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” I had heard quotes from the letter before, things like, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” But I had never read the whole thing through.

(more…)

The Holidays and the Undocumented

Something isn’t sitting well with me.

GOP Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann drew fire from Bill O’Reilly this past Monday when she clarified her stance on undocumented immigrants while being interviewed on his Fox News show. O’Reilly was following up on a statement Bachman made last Saturday at Mike Huckabee’s presidential forum (also on Fox News.) Bachmann stated that if she became President, she planned to deport all 10-12 million undocumented immigrants from our country.

(more…)