19 again

Basically, I never want to hear about post-racial America again.  And I hope no one is left wondering why I would spend so much time and energy talking about race since things “are so much better.”  Because they aren’t.  We’ve just gotten comfortable pretending that they are.

Today would have been Jordan Davis’ 19th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Jordan Davis.


I don’t know what else to say about it right now.

This lady did:

How Keeping Our Sons Safe Makes It OK for Whites to Be Racists


The Jordan Davis case led some parents to give their kids “the talk.” But doing so absolves white people of their responsibility to unlearn stereotypes that scare them.

The slaying of 17-year-old Jordan Davis by a white man who didn’t appreciate his taste in music had some black people scrambling to give black boys “the talk” about how not to scare white people into shooting them…a lot of black parents who love their children are probably repeating it. I understand it.

But I don’t like it.

I don’t like it because as practical as it is, it inadvertently feeds the notion that black youths, and black males in particular, ought to capitulate to racist whites in order not to suffer at their hands.

And any white man who believes that black kids ought to turn down their music because he doesn’t like it, even if they are only sharing the same parking lot for a few minutes, isn’t seeking respect.

He’s expecting submission.

Any white store owner, or night watchman, who expects a black youth to take off his hood because it scares him, even though that black youth has no plans to do anything scary, isn’t asking for respect but for his irrational fears to be coddled.

Most of all, I don’t like it because we’ve been through this before.

In the 2002 book Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South, Charles Gratton recalled his mother’s instructions when she sent him to the grocery store. She told him, “If you pass any white people on your way, get off the sidewalk. Give them the sidewalk. Don’t challenge white people.”

Similarly, many black people who grew up during Jim Crow times remember being told not to look white people in the eye and to avoid doing things that might get them hurt or killed for being defiant or, as they would say back then, uppity.

A refusal to turn down music or take off a hoodie could translate into being uppity for whites like Dunn, who believe that black youths—who, like many of their white counterparts, are grappling with awkwardness and immaturity—owe it to them to suppress their attitude.

They don’t.

I get that it’s important to give black youths the advice they need to be able to live to fight another day, as Guns and others are doing. But we cannot forget the importance of fighting conditions, such as Florida’s “Stand your ground” law, that feed the idea that whites like Dunn can get away with fatally shooting a black youth like Jordan because he and his friends didn’t comply with their request.


Jordan Davis’ friends

We cannot forget, because something is horribly wrong when, more than a half-century after legal segregation ended, when we have a black man sitting in the Oval Office, Jim Crow-era instructions are being revived to protect black youths. These instructions have little to do with young black people being respectful to white strangers and everything to do with them being submissive to whites—with black youths giving white strangers permission to cling to fears about blackness by not being so, well, black.

And when we make black youths solely responsible for not frightening white people with their music or their style of dress or their swagger, we absolve white people of their responsibility to unlearn the stereotypes that are scaring them.

Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy, The Butler) did too:


have you noticed…

The new (biracial) guy on Grey’s Anatomy?  As soon as he first hit the screen I was like, “I think he’s one of us!”  But I wasn’t 100% sure until I saw Jesse Williams on the Bonnie Hunt Show.  He showed pictures of himself as a child with his (Black) dad.  So cute!  Then and now!!  My friend google led me to some more info about him….

Williams is the son of an African American father and a Swedish mother, and as a teenager, he moved from urban Chicago to ‘lily-white’ suburban Massachusetts.  His interest in acting was sparked, in part, when a film he was writing about this uneasy transition was chosen as a finalist in the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab.  “It was a big part of my life.  I really rejected that move.  It was a complete cultural shock.”  Williams recalls, “It wasn’t good.  My friends were sh***y, the people were sh***y, the parents were sh***y.  A lot of parents closed the door in my face, so I was like, I don’t need to be here.  I’m not going to try and change you, which, I guess I did try for a while.”- via

This is from an off-broadway play that Williams did last year.  So wish I had seen it.

Jesse Williams isn’t embarrassed to admit he wasn’t fully aware of who Edward Albee was when he auditioned for him to play the scantily-clad Angel of Death in the revival of The Sandbox that the 80-year-old playwright is now directing (in tandem with The American Dream) at The Cherry Lane. “Actually, I think it helped me, not being so intimidated,” says Williams. “He was so funny, cracking jokes with me even from the beginning. And I didn’t even fully process that he had offered me the job. But it’s all been an amazing experience, getting this immediate response from the audience, and working with this cast. And honestly, I don’t even really know what I look like on stage. I said I was going to go to the gym more often, but I end up just doing push-ups in the basement of the theater and trying to keep quiet.”

Williams’ enthusiasm is understandable, since he has only been acting professionally for a couple of years. While studying filmmaking at Philadelphia’s Temple University, he did some commercial and modeling work, with the occasional acting audition — even turning down a prime soap opera role. “I am a biracial man, and I was supposed to play this tragic mulatto character lusting after a white girl, and I didn’t want to leave school to do that kind of part.” Instead, after graduation, he took a job as a public school teacher in Philadelphia, and then a high-level law firm job in New York — “I was supervising 60 attorneys, even though I’m not a lawyer” — before deciding to focus on acting.- via

Oh, Jesse Williams.  I can’t wait to interview you!