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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

Confessions of a first time vegetable gardener

The task of planting a vegetable garden has now fallen to me. As a city boy I was not raised to grow my own food. I never wondered how produce made its way into the food distribution system. I knew only that it was available usually frozen, occasionally fresh, in the supermarket. My only experience with food in its natural state was when as a boy we used to sneak apples from a neighbor’s apple trees. The elderly woman who owned them caught us one day and made a deal with us. We could pick as many as we wanted

On Lying

My 2.5. year old granddaughter is learning language (two languages actually) and has just learned that what you say can get you what you want. She is also learning to lie. Oh she’s not good at it yet, but she has learned that denying you have pooped can get you continued play even when there is olfactory and visual evidence to the contrary. That got me thinking about the how young we learn that lying can get us what we want.  There are all kinds of lies: the bold faced lie when we say something we know to be untrue,

Notes from the Montreal Jazz Festival 2 of 2

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Displaying more energy and a better voice than people half her age, Ms. Bridgewater brought the house down with her set. An accomplished jazz singer, Grammy winner and NEH Jazz Master, she has taken a self described “detour” into the Memphis soul music of her teenage years. Lucky us. She has released a new album called “Yes I’m Ready” and performed some of the album’s songs for her set. They ranged from an obscure Gladys Knight song to Elvis and B.B. King with stops in Memphis Stax-Volt along the way. Although in her sixties her voices is undiminished