A Q&A with Rich BlintBaldwin’s consistent and insistent interrogation of how the mythology of race, class, and power operates in America to blind and divide us is singular in its analytical depth, sweep, and emotional power. His work reads as a kind of prophecy simply because he was clear about how profoundly dangerous it has always been for Americans not to confront the truth about the violent racial history of the country. His work must be read as testimony, as, yes, a secular witnessing to the serious perils of indulging in the American fiction of “whiteness” and its purported superiority.
The results of the 2016 presidential election have left many people in shock and disappointment. In a time where people are fearing that a new administration will work to reverse much of the progress made in the last eight years, we are left wondering what the future holds. How do we continue to fight against climate change, fight for reproductive rights, LGBTQ protections, and racial and economic justice?
By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber IIEarly Wednesday morning, after running a controversial campaign that was even endorsed by the KKK, Donald J. Trump thanked his supporters for victory and promised to be a president for all Americans. A shock to almost every pollster and political pundit, his victory has been heralded as an unprecedented political upheaval. But the reactionary wave that swept across America this past Tuesday is not an anomaly in our history. It is, instead, an all too familiar pattern in the long struggle for American reconstruction.
By Sharon Leslie Morgan and Thomas Norman DeWolfDeep, authentic relationships with people we’ve been raised to see as “other” are key to understanding and reversing the impacts of racism and other forms of intolerance and inequity, and the misuse of power, and privilege. For the two of us, there is solace in knowing that someone shares our beliefs and commitment to social justice. We have built a friendship over the years that helps sustain us. We can talk with and lean on each other in times of madness and sadness, as we did on election night and surely in days to come.
A Q&A with Adrienne BerardWriting history about minorities and people of color, you are constantly confronted with the value system of the societies in which they lived. Some crucial records were never kept, and the accuracy of the records that exist is questionable. The racism of their time affected how their story was remembered, or in this case, not remembered.
By Maya FernandezI have always believed I’m Black. Both of my parents are Black, the majority of my immediate family identifies as Black, so essentially, I am Black. While race was a continuous topic of discussion in my household, colorism—discrimination or prejudice based on skin color—was left unattended. Similar to racism, colorism establishes a hierarchy in which lighter skin is treated with higher regard than darker skin. My father, a cultural proficiency consultant, made sure my sisters and I understood how society would see us as black women, but somehow forgot to give us the tools to navigate a world also plagued by colorism. It wasn’t until I stepped outside the comfort of my front door that I was fully able to grasp the concept of colorism.
Throughout this election cycle, we’ve seen the rise of the radical right reminiscent of the pull of ultraconservative organizations from the past; increasing calls to prevent new immigrants from entering our country; increased calls to improve gun control legislation; a resurging wave of religious intolerance against Muslim Americans; and nationwide protests imploring racial justice and economic progress. These issues and others that have made headlines in the news have become focal points in this year’s presidential debates. To help inform the conversation about these topics, we’re recommending a list of titles from our catalogue.
A Q&A with Lori L. TharpsThe answer to eradicating colorism is not colorblindness. What we need to do as a society is learn to appreciate the great diversity of human skin colors. It’s that easy and that hard. We love different colored flowers and different colored candies—why can’t we love different colored skin in the same way? Different just means different, not better or worse.
By Dina Gilio-WhitakerI am a person of Native American heritage, and I also happen to love surfing. I began board surfing as a young adult thirty-six years ago, but in reality I grew up riding waves as a kid born and raised in coastal Southern California. I spent lots of time on the beach, bodysurfing and riding various types of bodyboards. At twenty-two I moved to Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii, which unbeknownst to me at the time was—and still is—the epicenter of global surf culture, and it was there I learned to surf. Being Native American and a surfer sometimes seems like a contradiction in terms, and there is virtually no literature on how surf culture intersects with Indigenous peoples in the continental United States. But I have made it my personal mission as a scholar to begin this conversation, and here I share with you some of my ever-evolving thoughts on it.
By Kay WhitlockThe August 2016 announcement by the Obama administration that it will phase out or “substantially reduce” contracts with private prisons to house federal prisoners provides a master lesson in the political benefit of the magician’s art of misdirection. Hailed by many as a definitive step forward in criminal justice reform and a severe blow to the continuation of mass incarceration, the focus on private prisons hides more than it reveals. It raises false hopes, offers false promises, and points many who want transformative change in the wrong direction.
By Roxanne Dunbar-OrtizThe first international relationship between the Sioux Nation and the US government was established in 1805 with a treaty of peace and friendship two years after the United States acquired the Louisiana Territory, which included the Sioux Nation among many other Indigenous nations. Other such treaties followed in 1815 and 1825. These peace treaties had no immediate effect on Sioux political autonomy or territory. By 1834, competition in the fur trade, with the market dominated by the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, led the Oglala Sioux to move away from the Upper Missouri to the Upper Platte near Fort Laramie. By 1846, seven thousand Sioux had moved south. Thomas Fitzpatrick, the Indian agent in 1846, recommended that the United States purchase land to establish a fort, which became Fort Laramie. “My opinion,” Fitzpatrick wrote, “is that a post at, or in the vicinity of Laramie is much wanted, it would be nearly in the center of the buffalo range, where all the formidable Indian tribes are fast approaching, and near where there will eventually be a struggle for the ascendancy [in the fur trade].”
By Nicholas DiSabatinoDear Sister Sonia: We’ve never met in person, yet we’ve spoken on the phone dozens of occasions since I joined Beacon Press back in 2012. I’ve been so blessed to work with you as your publicist these past few years. It’s a strange feeling to “know” someone only via the phone. I feel in some ways like we’re long distance pen pals, even though you’re only in Philadelphia and I’m in Boston. I’ve come to expect that particular warmth in your voice whenever we speak and I hear that familiar “Brother Nicholas, any calls?” from you. It’s part of who you are as a person and an artist
By Deborah Jiang-SteinIn our fame machine culture of “Look at me, look at me!” where fame is marketed as a drug of choice, we’re consumed by the notion that the only light worth seeking is the limelight. I recently had the privilege to witness another way to hold the light. With Gloria Steinem at my side last spring, we entered the state prison for women in Minnesota to share a tour and speaking engagement. She was in Minnesota on a generous acceptance when I invited her to a fundraiser for the nonprofit I founded, the unPrison Project, so that we could raise funds to reach the thirty-one states that have requested my speaking and our programming into their women’s prisons.
By José OrduñaOne convention featured the jingoistic speeches of retired generals, and ex-CIA director Leon Panetta, of protestors chanting “No more war!” being out shouted by people chanting “U-S-A!” The other convention was the Republicans’. As a Mexican immigrant naturalized as a US citizen in 2011, this is the second US general election for which I am eligible to vote.
By Alondra NelsonAs a wide-eyed girl watching Roots, and wondering about mine, I never could have dreamed a future where one day I’d have the surreal experience of having my genealogical results revealed to me before a crowd of African diaspora VIPs and civil rights leaders, and with a prominent actor, Isaiah Washington, as master of ceremonies. Although this experience elicited mixed emotions in me, I can personally attest that new branches on ancestral trees are the undeniable graft of genetic genealogy.
By Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD, MAThe most recent show of support for LGBTQ causes in professional sports was the July 21 announcement by the NBA that the men’s All-Star Game would be moved out of North Carolina because of the state’s new anti-LGBTQ law, which includes a section barring transgender people from using bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. I was surprised by the move, especially since the NBA has been slower to warm up to LGBTQ causes than the WNBA (despite being subsidiaries of the same parent organization). The NBA did participate in the Pride March, but, while Sheryl Swoopes, the first out lesbian in the WNBA, made her announcement in 2005, the first openly gay male player, Jason Collins, didn’t come out until 2013. Homophobia remains rampant in men’s sports.
By Alex DixonStudies in neuroscience and psychology have shown that the brain is wired to respond quickly to possible threats, and in American culture at least, people may have been socially conditioned to see black male faces as one of these threats. This process can even affect people who consciously shun racial bias in any form, police officers who swear to uphold the law without prejudice, and people of color themselves.
The Reverend William J. Barber II brought the crowd to its feet with his rousing speech last night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. His impassioned call for a moral awakening to combat divide-and-conquer politics with justice illustrates the foundation of Moral Mondays, the fusion movement he helped start to bridge America’s racial and economic divide. He writes movingly about how he laid the groundwork for this diverse movement in his book The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement. This appearance is part of Rev. Barber’s fifteen-state Revival Tour, launched in April to imbue love, mercy, and morality into politics. Here are some of last night’s highlights.
By Mark TreckaWhen Postcommodity documents the installation, the materials list will read: the Earth, cinderblock, parachute cord, PVC spheres, helium. But that list will be incomplete. The Mexican Consulate was a material. The local cafe owners in Douglas who spearheaded a corresponding art walk, the teenagers of Agua Prieta who danced in celebration of the launch, they were materials.
By Dina Gilio-WhitakerWhen a thirteen-year-old member of the Mississippi Choctaw Band of Indians entered into a job-training program with Dollar General, no one could have foreseen how it would turn out. Referred to as John Doe to protect his identity, the boy alleged that he’d been sexually molested and harassed by Dollar General manager Dale Townsend. Ordinarily, a case like this involving a crime on an Indian reservation would fall under federal jurisdiction, but the US Attorney’s office in Jackson failed to file a lawsuit, and the boy’s parents sued Townsend and Dollar General for damages in tribal court.