If you know me and you’re not triggered to outrage by the President of the United States telling a violent white supremacist organization to “stand by”, please let me know. This is not a dare. I’m not baiting you. I just want to know who’s ready to tolerate white supremacists in my life so I can see you coming. Any professions of love for me mean nothing without clarity here. Any declarations of Christian values are hypocritical if you also are “meh” on white supremacy. You are on the fence on this so I mustn’t trust you when it counts…

As I watch the convention coverage take place, I am struck by how poorly it’s keeping the plot. The battle of talking heads and the stream of clever social media posts can’t be where we spend time right now. As an example, there has been a robust amount of questions about Kamala Harris’s blackness, her left-ness, her eligibility, and what her selection “means”. Don’t have a take. It doesn’t matter right now. This moment is bigger than that.

Voices using social and corporate media are grading convention performances and production choices for effectiveness while every day more people die by…

What do you do now?

White friends, some of you may be having hard talks with your former selves about racism built into America’s systems. You might wish you’d have recognized it or acted to fix these systems. You may have remorse or even grief about your part. Many of you have resolved to learn and do better. So here’s one man’s partial list of changes our country needs to make to remediate the damage those systems have done. These changes will only happen with your sustained action and support. Consider this a policy pep talk.

Racists systems have restricted…

“Minstrel shows lampooned black people as dim-witted, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious, and happy-go-lucky.” (“Minstrel show” n.d.)

‘Frederick Douglass described blackface performers as “…the filthy scum of white society, who have stolen from us a complexion denied them by nature, in which to make money, and pander to the corrupt taste of their white fellow citizens.” (“Minstrel show” n.d.)

For the unconvinced white folks regarding the ugliness in the origins of “The Eyes of Texas”, I invite you to lean in to this tradition. If you still want to sing the song there’s no need to forget. Minstrel shows were essentially racism…

The question of the “Eyes of Texas” is a another case of our history facing it’s racial reckoning. If you’re in Austin or you went to UT you know but for those who aren’t aware, this song is the alma mater of the University of Texas at Austin, where I went to college. The lyrics are a paraphrase of Robert E. Lee set to the tune of “I’ve been working on the railroad” which was originally written with a verse in an offensive dialect common to minstrel shows. The “Eyes” was first performed at a minstrel show and in blackface…

Not here for debate.

A notion I’ve been thinking about lately. There is something those who want to make change right now need to keep in mind.

Not everyone has the capacity for empathy required to recognize the presence and impact of systemic racism. Not everyone has the imagination to consider alternatives to status quo uses of public money to move us toward a more just, humane society. …

This is from a Facebook post of mine. Publishing it here to facilitate easy sharing.

I’m reluctant to share this but here it is. It started as me trying to distill something I’ve felt for a while about how racism has impacted who I am. It’s ended up being a little something different. It’s long and flawed but I’m sharing it in case it can be of use.

Like everyone, I am a progression on who my parents are and what they made of themselves. They are my foundation. Their parents are theirs and so on. I notice my parents’…

The Price of Privilege

James Baldwin is a hero of mine. His clarity on issues of race helps me to manage a reasonable amount of anger and fear at what we have come to tolerate in this country. Baldwin’s words help me make sense of it. There is a particular strain of his logic I cling to as I see white Americans give in to the easy fear of losing their delusional identity. Most of us agree, the United States was born in a shared, willful avoidance of the fact that African-Americans, women, and Native-Americans are just as human and…

Herb Watkins

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