Month: June 2016


Britons narrowly voted to leave the European Union and since then I’ve heard that racism and xenophobia are to blame. Concerns over the free flow of labor (non-British people) into the UK was certainly a driving force and to ignore the Trump-ish theme of anti-immigration would be irresponsible. But simply labeling the Brits racists–as many liberals in the U.S. have done–lets liberals (I’m one of them) off the hook too easy and thats precisely what they’d like. Whether the topic is Brexit, gay marriage or immigration reform, liberals in the U.S. excel at emphasizing social issues to avoid admitting we lack answers to the economic crises families are facing. Racism very well may have ultimately driven Brexit but it wouldn’t have been possible if not for unaddressed economic strains on families. It’s just easier to point to racism than admit you can’t fix the latter.


I binge watched the new “O.J.: Made in America” documentary and there is but one conclusion: “White America” blew the O.J. trial. More than anything, the trial confronted the nation on race. It gave us an opportunity to understand what we’d become as a country and a unique chance to chart a new course. White America blew it in both respects. What we’d become was a nation filled with grievances after centuries of ignored cries for justice. Those untreated wounds for the darker half of America had festered into thoughts of vengeance; so much so that one juror admitted her vote was “payback” for the Rodney King verdict.


At the root of the massacre in Orlando is religion. We struggle to admit that because we seem not to know that our holy texts provide theological justification for such violence. Recognizing this is especially difficult because we’ve largely created 21st century versions of our faiths; versions which omit sacred texts unpalatable to our 2016 tastes. It is a faith in which Muslims preach the virtues of Islam but pretend the Quran doesn’t specify crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam (Quran 5:33). It is a faith, for Christians, which highlights the liberating power of the gospel while ignoring Torah’s imperative to execute gays (Leviticus 20:13) or Paul’s command that women be silent, not have authority over men or teach (1 Timothy 2:11-12).

November 6, 2014 - Tuscaloosa, AL:  Portrait of Central High offensive lineman Lester Cotton.  He's a top recruit for the University of Alabama.

credit:  Marcus Smith

Hillary, before I give myself to you I need to know if you’ll still love me tomorrow. When evaluating politicians I first look for core convictions. That is, what is it that you’re absolutely committed to, no matter what? It matters. Things change and fashions change. Since criminal justice reform is en vouge today I’m sure you may cater to this issue I care so much about. However, what if it goes out of style tomorrow, as it did during the 90’s? Will you still be on my side? Please understand, Ms. Clinton, that the discussion of criminal justice reform is a bare minimum.


I thought I had a cold this morning but I realized I was just sick of the fake tributes to Muhammad Ali. We hated his guts, just be honest. UNC professor Matthew Andrews points out that we hated him so much, we made the movie Rocky about a white underdog beating a faux Ali because no one could do it in real life. Ali had the audacity to say that whites were universally the enemy of suffering blacks. Ali delved further into race when he refused to fight in Vietnam because those “darker people” had never lynched him or called him nigger. As he is now being celebrated, our hypocrisy is on display and we must reckon with it–we still hate what he stood for and thus we should stop our insincere praises posthumously.


This past Saturday Harambee, a 400-pound silverback gorilla, was killed at the Cincinnati zoo. Over the same weekend 27 people were shot, within walking distance from where I’m currently staying on Chicago’s westside. I knew all about Harambee but absolutely nothing of those 27 shootings because they occurred across an imaginary line of gentrification, where even the city streets appear to be maintained radically different. I’ve heard much about how Harambee’s life could have been spared, even as he violently dragged a child around his enclosure. But not much has been said about how we could have saved 27 of my neighbors and that’s the discussion which should be prioritized. I guess they and their shooters are just considered, ironically, “animals.”