America’s Race Problem

During the Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park here in Boston last night. This is true — even if you are color blind. Party for Socialism and Liberation page stated, “Today, the United States is an example of this kind of “prison house of nations. Since its origins, racism has been a characteristic of U.S. society. This racism has often disguised the fact that the Black population within the United States has emerged with all the main features of a nation within the borders of the United States. Racism against African Americans is a manifestation of national oppression.”

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Detroit

Last night was the first time I walked out on a movie. I struggled watching “Detroit” in the theater. In part, not that it is a bad movie, but that it is too good. At one point in the movie, I became aware that my fist caused my hand to hurt; I felt my blood pressure elevating due to anger. A strange emotion had taken hold of my soul. Few movies have caused me any sense of real emotion; but this one did. “Detroit” is an indictment on the complicit nature of white people’s comfort, as many all but too often turn a blind eye to police brutality and the constant killing of unarmed Black men. Many talk about All Lives Matter as they sit and watch video recordings of cops murdering Us. Too many Americans make excuses for their privileges, while dismissing Our daily exertion. We did not make it through the movie. After a while I was just too mad. I checked out and drifted to a mental place of pure frustration and anger. After a while the only thing I saw was white Americans’ silence. I saw a white supremacist in the White House who speaks about Black and Brown folk in a condescending way. A man and his majority white supporters who support white nationalism over shared values and mutual means. “Detroit” was nothing but a trigger warning for me. I saw Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford, Emmet Till, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Andeson, and more.

Black and White Working Class

I wrote this essay on the past and current struggles of the Black and white working class in the United States. I noted that:

Racism has long divided the working class, and today is no different. Many white working class people voted for Donald Trump. And much like 2008, race was a reason. While some will salute a strong economy, in truth, wages have flattened for the working class. Because of this, and because white workers have grown suspicious of the burgeoning black power call by Black Lives Matter, the search for solidarity continues to escape a racially divided country, as noted by the current political climate.

This essay was published by the Hampton Institute here.

Confederate Monuments

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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

Against Bigotry

I spoke to a crowed at the end of our protest march in front of the Boston State House. I am feeling a desire by many to bring true change. But that will not be easy. This march/protest was aimed against policies on deportations and refugees and Muslims.

I am with Jackie here, she is my friend; I am her friend. She is my ally and I am her ally. We stand with others as friends. Let me be clear here: I love people. And because I love working-class people, I have decided I can no longer be a friend with those who support the legislation of hate. What does this mean? I will not travel with you nor visit your home. If you are against LGBTQ folks, female rights, undocumented friends, black, brown, and others, and if you support hate and American exceptionalism, I am not your friend and you are not my friend. This is not just a virtual notion; it is true for me day-to-day. If you believe you are “just” due to your faith — we are not friends. To be my friend means you are my ally, and thus are seeking to evolve by walking with me to denounce bigotry. I will work with you on the job. I am working class and have to pay the bills. I have no interest in your religion or church if your members are not allies. I will be nice and say hello – Mom and Dad raised me well. I will work beside you at work — but just know I cannot be your friend; if you are not my ally, we are not friends. If you are arguing about my realities and the realities of my friends and allies – we cannot be friends. We cannot break bread in my home or have a glass of wine.

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Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes, 1902 – 1967

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Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Black Lives Matter — Here at Brooks

I am excited about chapel today. My friend and our school minister is sharing a thought — as well as our Black Student Union leaders, who have organized a talk on why Black Lives Matter. Listening to them rehearse was inspiring. Our black student leaders wrote:” [a]s Ralph Ellison noted in his Invisible Man, we have seen our invisibility — which is why we are seeking to be seen and heard.” We are a diverse community seeking to enhance the voice of those who are often marginalized.

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Above: My show of solidarity