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 defense of guilt

Say you’re a twenty-something American male and the year is 1970. The Vietnam War is still in full swing and dates are drawn from the “hat” (or shoebox and capsules, as the case may be) to determine who gets drafted and who stays home. Your birthday falls in August, but September dates are drawn, leaving…

From Concord to Cape Town – on my strength alone?

(A version of this column appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader – pardon the shameless re-posting :) I was raised with a healthy New Hampshire dose of rugged individualism. My favorite pastime on a summer’s afternoon was to disappear into the Monadnock woods with my brother Tim and build a fort – a pair of…

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…

To come from such a place…

Last weekend, I witnessed a young man from the most unlikely of backgrounds being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship – a harbinger of radical change in his story. It moved me, almost to tears, and reminded me of the power that that single moment (building on many prior moments of ever-increasingly revealed significance) had had in…