As part of a community narrative through portraits — conducted by an amazing graduating student, she reflects a number of narratives in the pictures she took. She lined Main Street with over 100 of them, where folks shared an unknown thing about themselves. I stated that I survived a brain aneurysm due to a benign brain tumor. My image reflects what W.E.B. Du Bois once stated — the problem of the [21st] century is mass incarceration of Black and Brown people. Hence, our color line matter is due, in part, to the New Jim Crow.
I am with Mom as she drove me eight hours to college, then stuck around and helped me unpack and get settled. 18 year-old me.
My African American Studies students are reading Bryan Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy. Stevenson notes that 1 out 3 black kids will be incarcerated in the 21st century. I selected this work because this matter is the problem of the 21st century. It is a continuity of failed Reagan and Bill Clinton policies aimed at people of color. The Trump/Sessions admin pledged to declare war on drugs and to enforce harsher sentencing. They will go after Hispanics and Black people first.
I was fortunate to hear Stevenson deliver a talk at NAIS People of Color Conference last year; but I really came to know him from friends and colleagues doing great work in the state of Alabama. Above is a video of his talk; it is moving and well worth the 55 minutes.
New Orleans started the process of removing Confederate monuments. Over the years I have discovered that folks know little about historical actors like Jefferson Davis, who was not a great leader. I wrote an essay below for The Christian Century Magazine with a colleague as we noted, “[W.E.B.] Du Bois observed how little had changed in America from his mid-20th-century perspective. Perhaps the conjunction of the #blacklivesmatter movement with challenges against Confederate monuments can help bring about some change in our own day.
See essay here: Confederate Monuments and American Citizenship
Black consciousness is complex for many Black folks, and is often an unknown entity for white folks unaware that some Black people struggle with being Black. This struggle with racial identity is a curse for Black people, who see what is portrayed as good and normative as white. Unfortunately, Black folks who come to an understanding of Black consciousness too late struggle with acceptance, empowerment, confidence, and the will to resist the racist structures for them. I worry about this population. But…Black folks come to consciousness at different stages in life.
Listening to Race, Finance, And The Afterlife Of Slavery, which is addressing matters of racism and capitalism. Simply an excellent piece of scholarship folks.