Which Side Will We Be On?

By Lindsay Airey

White folks, how will we drain the poison from our communities?

Repent?

Take the assault on Black Life personally, be mobilized to grief and rage that takes action?

Get at least as passionate & dedicated to rooting out the cancer of white supremacy as many of us get devoted to fighting the biological cancers that take our loved ones?

Protect & fight for the rights & dignity of our siblings being unaccountably targeted, imprisoned, displaced & massacred like we fight for our own families, our own children?

Continue reading “Which Side Will We Be On?”

Rivers Such as This

An excerpt from Jesmyn Ward’s September 2020 Vanity Fair piece “On Witness and Repair: A Personal Tragedy Followed by Pandemic.” It is a classic that deserves revisiting over and over again.

In the days after my conversation with my cousin, I woke to people in the streets. I woke to Minneapolis burning. I woke to protests in America’s heartland, Black people blocking the highways. I woke to people doing the haka in New Zealand. I woke to hoodie-wearing teens, to John Boyega raising a fist in the air in London, even as he was afraid he would sink his career, but still, he raised his fist. I woke to droves of people, masses of people in Paris, sidewalk to sidewalk, moving like a river down the boulevards. I knew the Mississippi. I knew the plantations on its shores, the movement of enslaved and cotton up and down its eddies. The people marched, and I had never known that there could be rivers such as this, and as protesters chanted and stomped, as they grimaced and shouted and groaned, tears burned my eyes. They glazed my face.

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A New Song

By Tommy Airey, reposted from Easy Yolk

“What I do know is that love reckons with the past and evil reminds us to look to the future. Evil loves tomorrow because peddling in possibility is what abusers do.”—Kiese Laymon

“Oh, sing to the Lord a new song.”—Psalm 96:1

Thirty years ago, four white cops caught on video beating Rodney King fifty-six times were acquitted in Simi Valley by a jury made up of ten white folks, one Latino and one Asian. In the aftermath, a righteous rage fueled the L.A. Riots. At the time, I was fifty miles south, getting ready for senior prom. Six weeks earlier, our high school basketball team won the CIF sectional championship at the Sports Arena, where the Clippers used to play back in the day. We beat Lynwood, an all-Black squad from south L.A. In our all-white minds, we were getting revenge.

When I was a freshman, we got manhandled by all-Black Manual Arts High School in the state playoffs. They brought a cadre of students and parents down to South Orange County, the metro region with the lowest Black population in the US. Their crowd was small but persistently on point. When they scored or made a stop, everyone in their section of the bleachers would extend their arms out like an alligator and chant in rapid succession, “We love it. We love it. We love it.” As they clapped together, the alligators chomped together. Black excellence completely obliterated our home court advantage.

Continue reading “A New Song”

What’s in a Name?

The opening paragraphs of Dina Gilio-Whitaker’s recent piece in Sierra Magazine “What’s in a Name? What It Means to Decolonize a Natural Feature.”

There are hundreds upon hundreds of them—by one count, more than 800. They are mountains, valleys, creeks, lakes, and other physical landmarks with one thing in common: They all have the word squaw in their name.

The exact derivation of squaw is unclear. Some etymologists say that it’s an Algonquin word for “woman”; others say that it’s a mistranslation of the Mohawk term for “vagina.” In any case, it’s inarguable that over the centuries the word became a misogynistic and racist slur directed at Indigenous women—a means of using language to demean. Yet the word is etched across the American landscape. There are at least 1,400 places across the United States whose official names contain a racial slur of some sort. By far the most common epithet is squaw (hereafter, I will use sq***).

Continue reading “What’s in a Name?”

That’s All You Can Do, Brother

Last week on CNN.

DON LEMON: I’m not excusing what they did at all, but aren’t these people and even the Ahmaud Arbery, the hate crimes trial, aren’t these people in many ways, in a big way caught up or coopted in a system even now that is refusing to even teach people about race, to talk about race, to call people who try to bring light to it race-baiting? Do you understand what I’m saying? Who don’t want to confront the issue even to bring it to a positive place? Aren’t they caught up by that, they’re victims of that system?

CORNEL WEST: Yeah, in some sense we’re all wrestling with it. But keep in mind the attempt to do away with critical race theory means what? 1619 Project number one “The New York Times” bestseller week after week after week after week. So we can use the various kinds of ways to be narrow to continually broaden, deepen, universalize our vision and our efforts. It’s just we should never, ever get so discouraged that we think all we do is just react to all these vicious acts. No. We are taking off with vision, with power, with courage, with compassion regardless. Now, if we end up — if it ends up that America’s just over and it dissolves and it’s disintegrated because of hatred and the greed completely took over, we can say we went down swinging. We held on with integrity. That’s all you can do, brother.

The Precursor to Really Deep Transformation

From an LA Times interview with author and professor Imani Perry on her new book South to America.

Wow. [laughs] I mean, there are many wonderful things about L.A., but having had family that moved from Alabama to L.A., that would be a huge mischaracterization. Everyone has gone back South. The promise of L.A. proved not to actually be as promising. I’ll say, having left Alabama young and spent most of my time coming of age in Massachusetts, one of the things that’s interesting for me is I experienced many more acts of racial aggression in Boston than in Alabama. Slurs, physical aggression of a sort I’d never experienced.

Continue reading “The Precursor to Really Deep Transformation”

MLK was a Radical

MLK
PC: Underwood Archives/UIG/REX/Shutterstock

By Dr. Cornel West, for the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., originally posted in The Guardian

The major threat of Martin Luther King Jr to us is a spiritual and moral one. King’s courageous and compassionate example shatters the dominant neoliberal soul-craft of smartness, money and bombs. His grand fight against poverty, militarism, materialism and racism undercuts the superficial lip service and pretentious posturing of so-called progressives as well as the candid contempt and proud prejudices of genuine reactionaries. King was neither perfect nor pure in his prophetic witness – but he was the real thing in sharp contrast to the market-driven semblances and simulacra of our day. Continue reading “MLK was a Radical”

Take a Second Look

An excerpt from Michael Harriott’s 2021 classic “The Complete List of Marxist, Un-American, Anti-White Things (according to white people).”

While we should never, ever do what white people collectively want, history has shown us that if something is good for Black people, white people will hate it. And if they vilify something as racist, communist or anti-white, you should take a second look because, nine times out of 10, it might be worth considering. When it comes to freedom and equality, the easiest thing to do is to see what white people have to say…then do the opposite. Or, if that’s too confusing, simply ask yourself: Will it make white people cry?