An Alternate View of Black History Month

There's no doubt that we Americans need to know more about Black history. There's also no doubt that even as we recognize the need to root out white supremacy and institutional racism in all its manifestations, more and more white Americans have become aware of the racial injustices that continue to mar our country as we seek to live up to our ideals. But is a "celebration of Black History Month" a meaningful contribution to that moral imperative? Ernest Owens, a journalist in Philadelphia, thinks not.

In the Presence of John Lewis…

Last night, Georgia Congressman John Lewis, one of my personal heroes, died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 80.

It was four years ago that I attended a political rally in a church in a neighboring community. Congressman Lewis had come to town to try to help a younger candidate win a seat to join him in the House of Representatives.

The church was packed with a heartwarmingly diverse crowd: all variations on the color spectrum, differing faiths or no faith, young and old, men and women.

Two Important Lessons About Our Silence in the Presence of Racist Jokes

Paul Scanlon is a motivational speaker in England.

While I'm sure that few of us actually tell racist jokes at this point, how do/would we react if we were in a situation where we realized that one was about to be told? The importance of Scanlon's message can't be sufficiently underscored as we grapple with the systemic racism that has finally become more widely apparent at this critical juncture in our national life.

Lesson From the Woke Dentist–and Questions From Other Stories We Need to Keep Reconsidering…

A friend (white) who likes and respects his dentist (also white) was curious about the dentist’s reactions to our nation’s turmoil in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by the police.

The dentist responded:

“I finally get it. My son’s been working on me for a while, but now it’s really clear.”

But, my friend persisted, since the media coverage has largely lost its intensity, is he still as focused on the issue?

“Yes,” said the dentist.

Are We–at Last–Ready to Let the Sun Shine In?

I have written several times on my blog about Doug Glanville, a friend of my daughter’s since childhood who is a multitalented and lovely individual: former Major League baseball player, sports commentator, writer and New York Times contributor, educator on sports and social justice, etc, etc. (He currently has a sports-related podcast called Starkville in collaboration with baseball writer Jayson Stark—I am happy to give that a plug!)...

Doug sent me a copy of the video below, "Enough!," which he wrote and narrated and ESPN produced. I find his "personal call to action" powerful, searing, and eventually hopeful--another chance for us all. Please join me in watching it. If you've seen it before, I think it merits another viewing.

My Friend Responds to “You Broke It; You Fix It!”

I noted in my previous post that the title I used above was a response from my friend, an African American woman, to my efforts last year to encourage dialogue on race in America.

She sent me her reactions to the events described in Wednesday's post (which she liked) via email, and I feel her words are yet another important message for us white folks to hear. We hear them, but do we really hear them?

Can we feel them? Can we picture ourselves in the situations she describes? And how will--or will--any of this affect our actions going forward?

Can we transform the outrage we feel now to effect changes, staying the course, because it won't be quick or easy?

Here's my friend's response:

“You Broke It; You Fix It!”

When I ran a series of posts on my blog last year in the hope of encouraging dialogue about how we talk about race in America, the comment above was made by a woman I worked with a years ago who became a friend.

She’s an African American who has risen high in her chosen field—despite not having a college degree—by virtue of her extraordinary intelligence and diligence.

Her view was that she was tired of having to explain stuff to white people; it was our turn now.

I saw an identical comment on Twitter yesterday from another African American woman...
It’s time we white people acknowledged that this problem is ours to fix—all of ours, as a country, but it will never happen if white people don’t recognize our role and responsibility.

How Do We Talk About Race in America? An Unfortunate Update…

In Part 2 of my exploration, “How Do We Talk About Race in America?,” I spoke with Doug Glanville, a friend of my daughter’s whom I’ve known since they were children. After graduating as an engineering student from the University of Pennsylvania, Glanville has gone on to do great things in his life: his rich and varied career, which included nine years of playing major league baseball (twice with the Chicago Cubs), now involves being a sports commentator, writer, podcast co-star, and lecturer at Yale University, teaching a course titled "Athletes, Activism, Public Policy, and the Media." He is a uniter and optimist by nature—confronting racial injustice when needed but always trying to put it into perspective and not overreact..... He told me when we spoke that he likes to “take lemons and make lemonade.”

Well, life just handed him another big lemon, which he described in The New York Times Sunday Review. (He’s also a contributing opinion writer for the Times.) I hope everyone will read his entire Op-Ed, because it’s a powerful, nuanced, sophisticated view from a very thoughtful person about issues we should all be aware of and thinking about.

How Do We Talk About Race in America? A Serendipitous Part 3

I hadn't planned this additional post on race, but I came across what I feel is a wonderful piece of Op-Art on the topic in The New York Times. Some of you may recall it, but even if you do, I hope you'll use the link above to revisit it. It's worth several readings, I believe.

And it's followed by another serendipitous example that I find enriches the topic.

Writer and illustrator Henry James Garrett has created a wise and amusing morality tail/tale that's titled "The Kernel of Human (or Rodent) Kindness."

How Do We Talk About Race in America? Meet Doug Glanville (Part 2 of 2)

As soon as I determined to address this topic in my blog, I knew the person I should turn to for guidance. Doug Glanville, who’s been a friend of my daughter’s since childhood, is one of those all-around amazing people. It was evident when he was young:  academically gifted, terrifically athletic, warm, funny, and friendly, he was clearly destined to make his mark in the world.

And so he has. After graduating as an engineering student from the University of Pennsylvania, he had an illustrious nine-year career as a major league baseball player—a center fielder for the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies. From there he became a commentator for ESPN. He wrote a book, The Game From Where I Stand, contributes frequently to The New York Times, and has written for The Atlantic...

And yet…and yet. In the winter of 2014, shoveling the walk of his home in Hartford, Connecticut, where he lives with his wife Tiffany, an attorney and Hartford Board of Education member, and their four children, Glanville was stunned to be approached by a police officer from the next town.