When ‘reasonable belief’ is unreasonable and unjust

(This article appeared in The Concord Monitor on Sunday, November 30, 2014) The grand jury has spoken. Officer Darren Wilson has had his day in court. The focus of the press and public is moving on from Ferguson, Mo. Although the outcome of the case is clear – Wilson will not be tried in court for the killing…

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…

When Love Was a Crime

With Nelson Mandela’s recent passing, I’ve found myself reflecting on South Africa’s apartheid history a lot. I have reflected on the significance of his life and passing for me personally (socio-politically and economically) and South Africa’s future (in the country’s pursuit of reconciliation, freedom and justice) elsewhere. Yet, this blog seems the appropriate place for a reflection on…

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…

I love you, you’re perfect, now where’s your PhD?

Athol Fugard (b. 1932) was a man ahead of his time. The celebrated South African playwright and novelist (of Tsotsi, among many others) had the balls to take on such testy topics as institutionalized racism, township violence, and the color line in daily life–different sides of the same bitter coin in apartheid South Africa. And…

Black and White in the ‘Hinterland’

On Dan’s first visit to South Africa in March 2009, we took out a day and a half to visit the Kruger National Park. From Johannesburg, we drove an hour and a half northeast through Witbank (now named Emalahleni: the place of coal, after the main industry there). Stopping at the local shopping mall for…