Just Ask It!

On a walk through the woods outside Cape Town the other day, Sindiso and the kids and I happened upon a middle-aged Xhosa woman sitting outside a shed, presumably waiting to start work. I say ‘presumably’ because although I have no idea why she was in that spot at that time, I have learned from…

Re-Mixed: Time to dust off our blog?

After two years of neglect of this blog we began in South Africa, we’re thinking it might just be time to dust it off again. Here’s a glimpse of how we came to that conclusion… Dan: So, Sindiso, what have you been up to anyway these past two years while not whipping up blogs for…

Wanted: Black Friends [A Dialogue]

(As two rather headstrong people with our own styles, writing together can be challenging. Here, we experiment with a dialogical approach, each writing in our own words, that reveals the process we go through in anticipation of a post on a heavy topic, or in ordinary life :). We hope you find this “behind-the-scenes” view interesting – please let us know!)…

Race and politics: A race to the bottom in NH

Race and politics: A race to the bottom in NH Some of my good friends call me “Wholesome” and I don’t complain. There’s no secret that I idealize my small-town New Hampshire upbringing, where the farm, the woods, and the baseball field were my primary occupations after school. Eating porridge around the breakfast table as…

When Systems Kill Our Youth

(This column appeared in The Concord Monitor on August 20, 2014) I have never known what it means to be afraid of the police. In the small New Hampshire town where I was raised (population 1,200), Chief M and his part-time deputies were our friends. If your dog went missing or your car broke down, the chief…

In a small NH town, stark reminders that racism persists

(This article appeared in The Concord Monitor and The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) June 12 was Loving Day. What’s that? The day that, in 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the decision in Loving v. Virginia, finding the State of Virginia’s law criminalizing interracial marriage to be in violation of the Constitution. In the words of Chief…

The Story Behind “You’re Beautiful”

I was walking through an airport the other day when I spotted the glossy cover. An unabashedly black Lupita Nyong’o, sporting her very own nappy black hair, cropped short, beamed on the cover of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful” issue. Another first for dark black women in American popular culture, courtesy the luminous Lupita. But for…

Who’s afraid of the black man?

Parking in the city has never been my strong suit. Where I come from in Temple, New Hampshire (population 1,200), parking lots are plentiful and meters are few and far between. If it’s not a formal establishment, you simply pull over to the side of the road and hope a passing snowstorm doesn’t snow you in….

Second Chances

(For a slight change of pace I wanted to share a simple portrait of a man I interviewed during my recent field research trip.) What’s the best way to put a stubborn stereotype to bed? Tell a different story. Better yet, let the subject of the stereotype tell a different story himself. It may not…

What I don’t get to say to my black wife

One of the cool things about marriage (there are many) is that you get to say most anything you want to your spouse. Communications gurus advise that you speak what’s on your heart rather than keep it in, something I’ve found doesn’t come naturally to most of us guys, but which can be quite liberating…

Just another day in (post-apartheid?) South Africa…

Julia is her “good name”. The name she gives to white people. It’s how she introduces herself to us, half out of breath, as she runs up and climbs into the cramped back seat of our car to catch a lift over the mountain and to the next town. When she sees Sindiso, she smiles…

Is it because I’m white?

Not long ago, I received a call from a man inviting me to give a talk at a conference. As friends can no doubt attest, I have a healthy dose of pride and don’t mind being asked to speak in public. So I was happy to receive his call. Trouble was, I really had no…