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…

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…

How to Know a “Sell Out” When You See One

When people think of prominent black-white couples, figures that come to mind might include “sensational” (read: chock full of drama) pairings, Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren/Lindsey Vonn, Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Laine Bryant (though she’s actually Hispanic), and Lamar Odom and Khloe Kadashian (in the picture). And for many ordinary black people, these guys ‘sold…

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….

Ode to Colour-Blindness

Perhaps, on reading my blog posts in the last year, some might be led to believe that I reject colour-blindness outrighly, as a matter of principle. As a matter of fact, I don’t. In the last few months, Dan and I have seen a number of movies that have adopted a colour-blind approach and we’ve…

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…

Who gets to say what about whom?

Anybody who’s seen Chris Rock do stand-up comedy on national TV knows the man doesn’t pull any punches. “Sometimes the people with the most ‘stuff’ get to say the least ‘stuff’, and the people with the least ‘stuff’ get to say the most ‘stuff’”, he told my white college mates and me one night as…

Victims of Reverse Racism

(Warning: This blog is not for the faint of heart!) One of my most formative experiences in recent years was when a much-older white man (almost) accused me of reverse racism. I was requesting permission to hold a formal, yet inexclusive, gathering that would highlight racial and gendered differences in experience. The intention was to…

In South Africa, past is present in black and white

[This column was written for the Manchester Union Leader, May 15th 2012] Learning my New Hampshire history back in middle school, “conflict” was not a concept I encountered. It seemed the biggest tragedy to befall our state in the last 250 years was losing more than a few good men to wars beyond our borders….

The price of being poor (besides being poor)

Sindiso walks into a store to buy a blanket – six blankets, in fact, to serve as traditional gifts to the local sub-chiefs whose people she has come to consult regarding the status of local justice under customary law. There are no prices or fancy barcodes. The clerk attending her is Mozambican, a poor man…