Things for ((sub)urban) black persons to consider before marrying a white person

Pardon the graphic opening – it’s just a little bit of an overshare. Also pardon the gross generalisations inherent in my personal observations/reflections below: I know not all white people who go camping are wealthy for it is sometimes possible to acquire some of the expensive kit from yard sales and thrift stores (Dan, for instance, didn’t grow…

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…

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….

Where ‘insurance’ is 10 planks of wood

[An abridged version of this column appeared in the Concord Monitor on Feb. 26, 2012] When houses burn in the world from which I (Dan) come – Concord, New Hampshire to be precise – it’s a tragedy attended by fire engines, ambulances, and police. Loss of life is mercifully rare, and rarely does the fire consume…

Justice may be on the side of the poor, but…

The philosopher and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, a go-to source for Sindiso and me of late, observed that justice is on the side of the poor but that doesn’t necessarily mean the poor are just. (Moral Man, Immoral Society) In Johannesburg a few weeks back, we traveled down bumpy, litter-strewn streets through one of the sprawling…

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…