Facing what seems like an endless stream of news about racialized conflicts and violence, many people call for us to get beyond our history and find solutions for today, concrete actions we can take immediately, ways of expressing love right now to help us cope with the pain.

This yearning is understandable, but it’s just as important that we grapple with history, realize the inadequacy of any actions we might take today, and accept the limits of love in the face of political and economic realities. Better that we start with a harsh, but honest, assessment: The United States has always been, and likely always will be, a white-supremacist country.

Start by (1) remembering that the United States is the wealthiest and most powerful country in the history of the world and (2) realizing that this wealth and power has depended on the idea of white supremacy. Recognize that the material comfort of the United States is the product of three racialized holocausts, rationalized by white supremacy.

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In 1958, during my sophomore year at Tullahoma (TN) High School, all the boys in every class were ordered to the gymnasium bleachers with the male teachers for a sex education talk by a local physician, Dr. Ralph Brickell. The girls were sequestered in the auditorium with the female teachers for a similar talk by a nurse.

We rolled our eyes and poked each other in the ribs as Dr. Brickell relentlessly circumvented the subject at hand and rambled on about the importance of abstinence until marriage, along with the dangers of VD and syphilis, and the perils of getting your girlfriend pregnant, or knocked up in common parlance.condom

After saying almost nothing of substance, Dr. Brickell unwisely opened the session up for questions. There were a few innocuous queries such as, “What are the symptoms of syphilis?” by the usual ass kissers. But finally Gene Branch, a country boy in our city school, asked, “Dr. Brickell, what happens when a man mates with a sheep?” Convulsive laughter mushroomed throughout the audience, and Dr. Brickell’s face turned a deep crimson. (more…)

Well, they didn’t pry it out of my cold, dead hands. But my only remaining firearm has just left the premises.

Having grown up and lived in the South I’ve owned shotguns, .22 rifles, and an assortment of handguns. But over the years, my collection had dwindled to one old revolver that I kept in the bottom of my T-shirt drawer, a place where it would be handy if danger arose. My ability to actually use the pistol in an emergency was doubtful, however, since my wife, Shonnie, had only agreed to keep it in the house if it was unloaded.six-gun

What, you might ask, motivated me to hand over the gun to local law enforcement authorities? I got rid of it in response to a well-timed question about my possession of it by Shonnie after we saw Michael Moore’s movie Bowling for Columbine. The question: “What are you afraid of, Bruce?” (more…)

Here’s a commentary about violence in our nation that I wrote for the Asheville Citizen-Times late in 1999 that seems unfortunately appropriate for these times.

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I take issue with your December 7 editorial “Latest school shooting should redouble efforts for solutions” in which you state that what has been missing is a solution to the violence being exhibited by our youth ever more frequently.more_love

I believe we have the solution readily available. And it’s not school uniforms, metal detectors, or armed guards at our schools. It’s not even increased training and vigilance by school and law enforcement officials as proposed in the previously mentioned editorial. It’s not teaching values and principles in our schools. It’s not posting the Ten Commandments on school walls. And it’s not stronger gun control laws, though making guns less accessible certainly couldn’t hurt anything.

What must happen for our children to become less violent and more loving is for us, each of us, to become less violent and more loving. It’s as easy as that. (more…)

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