It’s in times such as these that I am compelled to acknowledge my own racism. For though I was raised by white liberal parents who early on supported Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement during the Sixties, I grew up in America, in fact, in the South, and thus I unconsciously took on common beliefs and attitudes prevalent in the dominant cultural paradigm about people whose skin was darker than mine. “White people are smarter.” “Black people are better athletes.” Etcetera. And though I’ve become conscious of those beliefs, I have not rooted them all out and doubt that I ever will. At the very least, however, I can notice when my mind makes snap judgments (young black man driving a late model SUV = drug dealer) and recognize them for the falsehoods they are.white-and-black-preschool-girls11

It’s in times such as these that I am compelled to acknowledge how I’ve benefited and continue to benefit from white privilege. From attending high school in my youth in a new building with relatively current textbooks while black kids on the other side of town were all segregated into one old building with hand-me-down books from the white schools to currently walking down the streets of Asheville at any time of day or night without fear of being harassed by the police, I have benefited from white privilege. (more…)

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.

(more…)

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…)

Next Page »