In 2007, I was in my car when NPR started a 15-minute segment on the shameful history of the 1919 race riot of Corbin, Kentucky.
That event wasn’t as bad as what would happen in Tulsa two years later, but that’s not saying much: Corbin is a small town, and somewhere between 6 and 8 percent of its population lost everything in a single night in an event that today we would call ethnic cleansing.
It was also a jaw-dropping revelation.
From age 9 to 11, I lived in Corbin, never hearing a whiff of its sordid past. As I reached my destination and sat in the parking lot listening to the end of the broadcast, all I could think was: how could it have been so thoroughly covered up that I didn’t know?
As the old newspaper clip I’ve used as the image for this post indicates, it was a national story. (If you can’t read it, it’s from the El Paso, Texas.)
Continue reading Tulsa Prelude: the 1919 Race “riot” of my one-time home town
For all his flaws, Donald Trump has been handed the opportunity to go down in history on the same page as Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson.
The two are, of course, very different Presidents, separated not only by political party, but 100 years of history. In 1862, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. And 103 years later, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
To the extent history lurches toward justice in big, widely spaced steps, those were probably the two biggest lurches in racial justice in American experience.
But to all appearances, America is poised to make another big lurch forward. The details are still being worked out, but polls show that 84 percent of Americans support the protests, at least to some degree–a level of agreement rarely seen about anything.
And yet, even today, Trump was defending choke holds as often being “innocent and perfect” and suggesting he was a better racial-justice president than Abraham Lincoln, apparently based on the economic surge that blessed his first few years.
Continue reading Trump, Lincoln and Rosa Parks
Today, on Facebook, I invited friends to join me in taking a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silent meditation and/or prayer, starting at 6 pm PDT (for those who could schedule it) or whenever else they could, for those for whom that time was difficult.
It was an incredibly powerful experience.
I’ve been asked to repeat it on Tuesday, June 9, for those who didn’t hear about it in time on Monday, and then to repeat it every Monday for the rest of June.
The idea is simple. Set a timer and take a knee, like a football player, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time in which George Floyd was pinned to the ground with a knee to his neck.
Or, if arthritis or other health concerns preclude that, just sit quietly on a chair or a couch. The idea is not to stress yourself, but to let yourself contemplate.
If you do take a knee, I recommend a knee pad of some kind, such as a fleece jacket, or some other soft surface. Also, this can be a bit of a balance test (especially if you close your eyes), so kneel next to a coffee table, chair, or other object on which you can steady your balance, so you can focus on prayer or meditation, rather than working not to topple over.
* Image by Zach Dischner / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0).
A couple of days ago, I said I might blog about my experiences with race in Minneapolis. So, with a good deal of trepidation, here goes…
There were two basic experiences. The first was sometime during the dark season, when night falls well before the end of the normal business day. I was a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, and there was a meeting I wanted to attend, downtown, after the workday ended.
The law school is about a mile from downtown, and I either didn’t have a car, or had walked to work. I could have taken a cab or bus, but it was a relatively short walk and I was, after all, a marathoner.
So I walked.
I don’t know what it’s like now, but at the time, it wasn’t the best walk. Much was dark and deserted, as it took me by sports facilities for both the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Vikings, surrounded by acres of empty parking lots.
Still, I felt more-or-less safe until a car pulled up behind me, slowed, and started shadowing me.
Continue reading Me and Race in Minneapolis (part 1)
As an older white guy, I’ve been unsure what to write about the present situation in America. Much of the online and news space does, and should, belong to people of color and Millennials. They are, and should be, the future. In fact, I am increasingly impressed by how today parallels events from 55 years ago.
Continue reading Are we finally reaching a moment of truth on race?
Today, I heard someone who sounded like a spokesperson for the Hennepin County prosecutor’s office say that the arrest of Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd was the fastest in which a police officer had ever been charged for the death of someone in custody. *Photo by Fibonacci Blue, wikimedia commons.
Continue reading Earning Trust in Minneapolis
He said that like that was a badge of honor.
Unless you’ve had the news turned off for the past week, you know that the Mask Wars are on, with a lot of people suggesting that wearing a mask marks you as a Democrat while not wearing one marks you as Republican.
And superficially, there’s something to that. We have a President who declines to wear a mask in public and who not only taunts Joe Biden for wearing one, but at a recent press conference shamed a reporter for being “politically correct” when the reporter refused to take off his mask at the President’s request.
Continue reading Why a Mask IS a Political Statement…Just Not a Partisan One
This weekend, I hit a milestone. Since the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (November 26), I have lost 60 pounds—61.3 pounds, to be precise.
People who’ve noted the change have repeatedly asked how I did it. So, as a break from COVID-19, here’s the answer. *Image: Bill Branson, National Cancer Institute, Public Domain.
Continue reading 60 Pounds in 6 Months
We all know the story of the emperor’s new clothes. In it, the emperor is hoodwinked by rogues who take his money and make him…nothing. “Nothing” that his advisors, fearful of offending him, declare to be the finest finery in the land.
Then, the emperor dons the non-existent robes…and a little child calls him out, exclaiming, “But the Emperor has nothing on at all!”
Except…The original fable, by Hans Christian Andersen, is a little more complex.
Continue reading Covid-19 & the Emperor’s New Clothes
Donald Trump says that even without a vaccine, COVID-19 will eventually fade away. And amazingly, the science says he might be right…though not if we follow his plan for reopening the country.
The science in question is evolutionary virology.
It says is that under certain circumstances viruses will evolve into less virulent forms. In fact, this might even be what happened to the 1918 Spanish Flu…though not until after it killed tens of millions of people.
Let me explain.
In order to be an evolutionarily successful, virus can’t just infect one person, they have to jump from one person to another. They can do that by making us cough, giving us diarrhea that contaminates other people’s food or water, or giving us sores that shed virus particles onto anyone or anyone we touch.
I.e., they make us sick.
But if they make us too ill, too quickly, they don’t get much chance to spread because we either collapse into bed, away from other people, or make others leery enough of catching the disease that they take suitable precautions.
Continue reading How to Make COVID-19 Evolve to Become Less Dangerous