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Reclaim All Lives Matter, End Police Brutality

Of course all lives matter, nobody in Black Lives Matter has said differently. The simple phrase has become, however, something that people hide behind to avoid addressing the uncomfortable realities of racism in American society. I would like to reclaim that phrase. Oppressed groups have long reclaimed the words that are used to oppress them e.g. nigger, bitch, faggot, queer. I want to use it to show that police militarization and brutality are not just black issues. All people of color, no matter how respectable they think they are, are subject to this brutality. The statistics for police violence against

There’s a Riot Going On

James Baldwin said “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” I keep this in mind as riots break out throughout the country in response to police killings of brothers.  Maybe we should ask not why they continue to happen though nothing changes, but why they don’t happen more often? The differential fatality rates of Covid 19 among racial groups has laid bare the results of racism in the health care system. The underlying racial (yeah I know there are other ways of looking at this) economic and social inequality is staring

 Francois de La Rochefoucauld Quotes I have found to be true

Many, many years ago when I was studying French I was required to read the pithy maxims of French philosopher and wit Francois VI Duke de La Rochefoucauld. He was an elitist French nobleman of the seventeenth century who commented on the foibles of humans. He wrote hundreds of quotes some good, some too pessimistic and some that are just irrelevant or too relevant for my life. Reading them again fifty years later here are 20 I have found to be true:


“How is it that our memory is good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and

My Dinner with David Driskell

I have read many of the tributes marking David Driskell’s death and they rightfully mention his enormous achievements.  However as one who met him I just wanted to remind folks that he was a wonderful man too. Over the course of my career I have had dinner with many of the the celebrity African Americans who came to my campus to speak. I just saw it as part of the job. Some impressed, some did not. One I will always remember was an unofficial private dinner arranged through an art historian colleague who was a great friend of David Driskell.

Day after Super Tuesday

Everyone else is analyzing what happened so I thought I’d add my two cents for what it’s worth. Let’s first sum up. The Democratic primary voters have shown a preference for an innocuous, bland, no new ideas, oatmeal candidate who they feel is the most likely to defeat Trump rather than an insurgent candidate who they feel will alienate too many voters to oust Trump.  Barring some miracle it is now essential a two man (man used intentionally) race. I did not support either of the finalists, but I would vote for either in November. Both have shown weaknesses and

Now what happened was…

There is an African American narrative tradition in which a story begins “Now what happened was….” Once you hear this you know you are about to hear a long, convoluted tale that tells the story from the perspective of the storyteller and which only occasionally (and possibly never) has a connection to what actually happened. Here is a hilarious example of this storytelling tradition by Tiffany Hadish. The clip itself is about 8 minutes long but is so funny the time just flies by, however if you can sample just a minute or two you will understand the narrative tradition. 

Stuck in the Middle

I recently read a piece by Robert Reich the former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration which you can look at it (here) In it while not discounting racism as one of the driving forces behind Trump’s supporter, also lists anti-establishmentism as an additional factor. I have long been interested in those voters who voted for Obama and then Trump, two people who would seem to have little in common, except they were perceived by the electorate as outside the establishment. While both have proven that they were not outsiders, both promised the electorate that they would be. As

Mueller? Mueller? Mueller?

In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, teacher Ben Stein in a bored monotone is taking attendance and utters the classic line “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” The camera cuts to Bueller’s empty chair. There is nothing there. Upon hearing Attorney General William Barrs’s summary of the the Mueller Report, many may have felt the same way. The Mueller report has finally been concluded and it matters and it doesn’t. As I thought there is nothing in it to show that Trump committed any crimes, does little to support impeachment, and leaves our best option at getting rid of Trump as the

20 things I have stopped doing

I have stopped talking about what a vile human being Donald Trump is. Most of you already know, those who don’t know by now are hopeless.

I have stopped being surprised by the depths of depravity, inhumane acts, and lack of concern for others, demonstrated by the Trump administration. Who knew that rock bottom had a basement?

I have stopped being surprised by the obliviousness of people to their own racism. This doesn’t mean that I have stopped working on alleviating it, but that you cannot underestimate the racism of American society.

I have stopped being surprised at the random acts of kindness

Disdain for the folks that brought them

It has always struck me that Fox News openly shows so much disdain for the people who are the backbone of their success. A few weeks ago they tried to shame actor Geoffrey Owens formerly of the Cosby show for working at a supermarket in what they considered as a menial job. The narrative they tried to spin was that here was an African American actor who had fallen from grace, perhaps had been profligate with his actor earnings, and was now forced to work in this unglamorous job. Then there were the slurs on Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez first for being