Entries Tagged as 'race & culture'

diatribesrace & culture

An occasion where I DON’T take a knee

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One week ago today, I was in the food court at Houston-Hobby Airport, waiting for a flight home following the latest round in my ongoing Texas Cancer Smackdown. This round had gone well, with good test results and encouraging words from the folks at M.D. Anderson.

For obvious reasons, I was in the mood to relax – even celebrate – with some lunch. The food was good, and a cold glass of local brew added to my enjoyment of the meal. Several feet away, the Apollo Chamber Players were performing light classical pieces as part of the airport’s “Harmony in the Air” program … all in all, I was in good spirits.

But then there was change, as Apollo switched gears and began playing “The Star Spangled Banner.”
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books & writingcreative writing

The Writer’s Parents

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“They were like all other parents. My mother liked to feed us. My father liked to take pictures.”

from The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon

Recent news of Lionel Shriver donning a sombrero to protest identity politics in the creative-writing world reminded me of Jenny Zhang’s Buzzfeed response to white poet Michael Derrick Hudson’s use of the Chinese pen name Yi-Fen Chou to wiggle his way into a Best of American Poetry collection.

I ignored the controversy over cultural appropriation but “took” from the Zhang essay to compare and contrast her parents’ fear of a child’s future as a writer to my own parents’ feelings about my choices. [Read more →]

race & culturesports

T-shirts at a high school football game (or, Maximum America)

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Our local high school football team’s name: Redskins. Yes, of course, I know it’s a controversial name across the country, and it’s been controversial locally on and off over the years (more off than on, currently — anyway, I’m not in charge of these things). This area of Pennsylvania is replete with native history and references. Last night, the Redskins hosted the visiting Indians. As I said, replete.

Like many other people, a dad attending the game was wearing a shirt that said Redskins. He was Indian. As in, from India. (I’m pretty sure — I didn’t ask.)

There was also a white guy with a seriously bushy beard wearing a shirt with an American flag on it and the words Undefeated World War Champion.

I don’t know what all this means, maybe something about melting pots or the circle of life, but it seems important.

The Redskins defeated the Indians 43-7.

books & writingrace & culture

Added to my e-bookshelf … Living History: On the Front Lines for Israel and the Jews

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WARNING: Reading Phyllis Chesler’s book “Living History: On the Front Lines for Israel and the Jews” may be hazardous to your sense of well-being. It could lead to increased levels of skepticism. This, in turn could lead to a variety of side-effects … a willingness on your part to question what we are told about the world around us, to make an extra effort to gain more information. You may even find yourself rejecting what ‘everybody knows and believes,’ in favor of a view that is more complicated, more detailed … and perhaps more truthful. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingrace & culture

Top ten St. Patrick’s Day blessings

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10. May the road rise up to meet you.

9. May the wind be at your back.

8. May your Facebook friends delete you
                         If they refer to you as a ‘Mick’.

7. May the rain fall soft upon your fields.

6. May you feel like they’re nirvana.

5. May all your fields have massive yields
    If you’re growing marijuana.

4. May you find a place for your willy.

3. May you see the Emerald Land.

2. May your green beer stay quite chilly.

1. And may God hold you in His hand.

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingrace & culture

Top ten Irish euphemisms for having sex

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10. Shagging

9. Knocking Knickers

8. Licking the Leprechaun

7. Drowning the Shillelagh

6. Mashing Potatoes

5. Sharing a Gallon o’ Guinness

4. Putting the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder

3. Coaxing a Rainbow Out of the Pot o’ Gold

2. Knicking Knockers

1. The Wearin’ o’ the Grin

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

on the lawrace & culture

Trayvon Martin, tragedy and injustice

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Last night George Zimmerman, America’s most hated night watchman, was found not guilty in front of a jury of his peers. Soon afterwards, the level headed “pick your battles” Reverend Sharpton was already scheming for a civil conviction and federal civil rights investigation. Deep into the night there was a protest in San Francisco. And this morning the talking heads on MSLSD went back and forth about racial injustice in America.

Even looking at Facebook and Twitter, you would have thought that a gang of Klansmen were just acquitted for killing an 18 year-old black girl in a voting booth on election day with the deciding vote in Obama’s reelection. But if you quell all the emotion, you would see that this case was not a landmark racial injustice, but rather a compelling focal point, precedent, and lesson in political pressure, self-defense, and the burden of guilt. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingrace & culture

Top ten Paula Deen excuses

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10. “Where I grew up, we always believed in calling a spade a spade.”

9. “I was misheard; I was actually talking about chigger bites.”

8. “I suffer from foot-in-mouth disease.”

7. “I thought it stood for ‘Needing Inalienable God-Given Equal Rights’.”

6. “All that butter has clogged up my brain.”

5. “My pal George Zimmerman said it was okay.”

4. “I’m a Southern racist cracker — what did you expect?”

3. “I spell out everything in my new autobiography White Like Me.”

2. “I just wasn’t thinking…about all the endorsement deals I’d lose.”

1. “I was hoping to get my own show on Fox News.”

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

race & culturetravel & foreign lands

First Impressions of Xi’an, China

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Xi’an, China is a big bustling city of over seven million people. It was a Chinese capital of ancient dynasties that thrived centuries ago, but today takes second stage to the prominent coastal megacities—Beijing and Shanghai and that more recent capitalist “import” to the mainland, Hong Kong. Beijing of course hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics while Hong Kong hosts some of the most amazing economic inequalities anywhere in the world (think ten million dollar penthouse suites while poor city residents rent cages to live in), but Xi’an’s seven million residents would easily make it a top-five city in the United States and the most populous city of a majority of countries in the world. By contrast, my native Philadelphia, America’s fifth largest metropolis according to the 2010 U.S. Census, has a population within city limits of about 1.5 million. [Read more →]

race & culturetrusted media & news

Are white supremacists on the rampage in Texas?

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Photos of the Klu Klux Klan in the 1920s


I had been in the US for five years before I encountered my first white supremacist. It happened outside a gas station on a rural back road in Texas, next to a used tire lot that I suspected was a front for skullduggery. We didn’t exchange any words; we just walked past each other, scowling. How did I know he was a white supremacist if we didn’t talk? The “White Power” tattoo on his gut was a dead giveaway.

Subtle, I thought. Still, I wondered if I should give him the benefit of the doubt. [Read more →]
race & culturetrusted media & news

No place for anger…

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I don’t feel angry at Adam Lanza. I know that makes some of you cringe, but I don’t have room in my heart right now for anger. I’m too filled up with pain for the lives that were lost, admiration for the heroic acts of our nation’s teachers, guilt for not doing enough to keep things like this from happening, and fear for what the future may hold. If Adam Lanza were standing in front of me right now, I would wrap my arms around him and tell him I’m sorry.

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race & culturereligion & philosophy

Out of reach

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I said yesterday that I wasn’t going to talk about this in public. I guess I lied. With the Subway incident that occurred on Monday, it seems to be stuck on repeat in my mind. Maybe if I write about it… maybe that will help me to think about other things…

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family & parentingrace & culture

Topless pictures and the culture of shame

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I don’t know if you guys have been following the story of Canadian teenager Amanda Todd, but for those who haven’t I will give a brief summary.

Just about a month ago, Amanda posted this video explaining in detail what happened to her. When she was twelve years old, Amanda exposed her breasts to a man she was chatting with online via webcam. A year later he (or another man, it is unclear) threatened to send a topless screenshot of her to everyone she knew if she didn’t put on a private show for him. She refused and he made good on his threat. He sent the topless picture of Amanda to her parents, teachers, friends, and neighbors. She was humiliated and depressed, began using drugs and alcohol, and attempted suicide several times. This past Wednesday, October 10th, she finally succeeded in taking her own life.

The reaction to Amanda’s death seems to be focused on two themes: 1. we should make sure children never use the internet unsupervised, and 2. we have to impress upon our kids the permanence of the internet and make sure our girls value their bodies enough to be more selective about displaying them.

I think they are missing the point.

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race & culturetelevision

This would be the greatest reality TV show of all time

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Preface: Since their invention, popularization, and herpes-like spread across the landscape of television, I have maintained an unwavering attitude of blind, unadulterated hatred toward reality TV shows and the viewers who allow their existence to continue. I actually pass rash judgement on the overall character of people who watch things like Jersey Shore. It’s profoundly ironic based on what follows in this piece, but it’s nothing short of absolute bigotry and I don’t care. I would rather spend all the years of my existence trying to take my own life via repeated blows to the head with a plastic spoon than become someone who spends his time staring at a television to watch other people spend their time and possibly also stare at a television. So when I suggest that something would make for a great reality show, I say that purely in a fictional sense. Should a program like this ever be televised, I would feel at least partially responsible and, as punishment, would reach for the nearest Dixie utensil. You may now proceed.

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politics & governmentrace & culture

Biden has chains on the brain

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politics & governmentrace & culture

The Young Gun

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The gentleman we will call Brugan is 90% real, his balance is made up of input from other folks present at our chat who shall remain nameless but not voiceless. Recall that YOU are 90% water. Brugan is a twenty-something light-skinned brother about as ghetto as Arthur Ashe. He is feeling his oats and so he should. He has a plum gig; he is breaking into the business of politics as an advisor to a challenger to John Lewis for his House seat. That challenger is, of course, a Democrat and his aspiration to replace Lewis is, ah, quite a project. But this cat was definitely loving life, on the payroll of a real, honest-to-god campaign. We have the opportunity here to observe the gunslinger in his pupal form. [Read more →]

politics & governmentrace & culture

Obama’s late to the party

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politics & governmentrace & culture

Getting married is gay

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In an interview with ABC News yesterday, the President finally came out of the closet — kind of. He stated for the first time on the record that he supports gay marriage. But he stopped short of promising any executive or legislative action toward this cause. How convenient. Just the night before, North Carolina voted by a wide margin for a constitutional ban on gay marriage, becoming the 30th state to pass such a ban.

I admit that Obama’s vocal support for gay marriage is monumental. I also recognize that the issue of gay marriage is the next social battlefield in America. However, I hope this election does not get bogged down with social issues. High unemployment, the poor housing market, and a disaster of impending debt are the urgent and important issues. No one is going to be able to afford gay wedding ceremonies, easily accessible birth control, or teenage abortions if we don’t fix the economy. [Read more →]

on the lawrace & culture

The summer of George

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Conditions in Florida are dry and hot. General conflagration has not broken out but that is not from any lack of ignition. There has been a sudden squall but whether it delivers more rain than lightning remains to be seen. George Zimmerman is in custody, surrendering without incident with the public release of the charges against him.

This should be a moment of great relief, should it not? The Martin family has consistently said that what they want is Justice for Trayvon, as the copyrighted phrase has it. Further they have said that what they desire is an arrest and a REAL investigation inverting the usual order. The implication is that there has not been a real investigation until now, the one delivering charges of second degree murder on a set of facts that the original Sanford based prosecutors thought warranted no charges at all. It is easy to understand why observers might think that so but mostly because of faulty information or explicit DISinformation, all of which will now be hashed out in open court, as it should be, while much of it has been hashed and re-hashed in the public sphere. Here is another helping of hash, including leftovers that have since gone sour.

The initial cause of outrage has become moot as it has proven to be false. The Martin family advocates originally stated three untruths: first that Zimmerman never was taken into custody on that fatal night. That falsehood stood nearly unrebutted until the release of a security video showing Zimmerman in handcuffs at the cop shop. Team Martin also declared that the crime scene was never attended to in any meaningful way but we have since seen video of the usual technicians and procedures being performed promptly and as competently as we can tell. The third falsehood was that Zimmerman’s pistol was never taken in as evidence. This also we know to be a flat inversion of the facts.  [Read more →]

on the lawrace & culture

Justice for Trayvon Martin

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There has been a spark in Florida. Whether it proves igniting depends on the condition and volume of the available fuel. It has been hot and dry across the nation for some time so we should be cautious with cigarette butts and any other sort of burning. In that case, maybe Al Sharpton should have stayed home. Too late for that now. He has broken out the tropical suits and the high-humidity hair treaments. Rev Sharpton has been one of the leading voices championing Justice for Tayvon as this movement is aptly known, calling for patience and support for the Martin family as they brace for the possibly imminent arrest of their son.  [Read more →]

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