Posts Tagged: race in america

Violence and Making Sense

Three years ago, I set out to write a novel about Cho Seung-Hui, the shooter in the Virginia Tech massacre. Since Columbine, I have held an unhealthy interest in the way the media, and by extension, the greater moralizing population, processes mass killings. Cho was a Korean-American from the South who had entered college with dreams, however mangled and bizarre, of becoming a writer. That same sentence could have been written about me. As the evidence of Cho’s derangement began to surface in the videos, short stories and plays he left behind, it became clear that Cho had been trying to tell a righteous story, where the “rich kids” and [...]


Free The Network

Maybe what I am about to say will come as a surprise to some. But it's something I've known about myself for years.

I have a hard time networking with white guys. And I think they have a hard time networking with me, too.

I’m not saying I don’t have any white male friends—I do. But within my social network, the ratio of white men to any other group is disproportionately small.

I’m so bad at networking with white guys that even the most serendipitous circumstances are foiled. I once had an interview with a Boston-based founder of a certain “game layer on top of the world.” I [...]


Vampire Weekend, "Giving Up the Gun"

In case you haven't seen it yet, here is the new Vampire Weekend video. It's pretty great for lots of reasons: RZA as Shaolin ninja/chair umpire, Jake Gyllenhaal as drunk, Lil Jon speaking French, the racially symbolic all-white set. Also, people playing tennis in motorcycle helmets and singer Ezra Koenig looking a lot like Michael Cera.


How We Got So "Comfortable With That"

"Comfortable" is a flexible term. Any one person’s threshold for comfort can differ from another’s. For the individual, comfort is relative: a heat wave in Edmonton, Canada, say, no longer agonizes after one has endured a heat wave in New York. When a person says "comfortable," they often mean "pleasant." Other times "comfortable" translates to just "bearable" or "satisfactory." While the word "comfortable" doesn’t change, a person’s definition of it can, and usually does, with time—that is, with age and experience. It might happen gradually, incrementally, with constant comparisons between then and now. Comfort itself is relative, its meaning elastic.

The word "comfortable" has been thrown around since the Middle [...]


The Black Millionaires Of Occupy Wall Street

To anyone paying attention, it wasn’t really a surprise when blacks didn’t come out in droves to support Occupy Wall Street. Despite the fact that blacks suffer from poverty and the ills accompanying it at wildly disproportionate rates, African-Americans have for a number of uncertain reasons been avoiding most of the liberal demonstrations of the moment. Blacks don't occupy Wall Street (or Denver or San Francisco) just as blacks don’t SlutWalk, or rally at the World Bank.

What was surprising was when the rappers started showing up.

At first it was just Russell Simmons—not technically a rapper, but a rap icon—his proselytizing becoming a daily fixture [...]


Black & White In Mayberry

When the news of Andy Griffith’s death was confirmed, I called my dad.

He is three hours behind me, and was just waking up in a suburban tract home located in the largest city in American history to ever file for bankruptcy. It is a long way from me, and a long way from where he grew up, in a haphazardly built house in all-black Slate Hill, in Roanoke, Virginia.

Tuesday was a long time from when my dad watched "The Andy Griffith Show" in the 60s. And it felt like a long time from when I would spend afternoons watching the show with him in the 90s.

And [...]


Two Horses, Two Races: The Civil Rights Movement Goes To The Kentucky Derby

Every year for the past 55 years during the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby, Louisville has hosted one of the nation’s largest parades, the Pegasus Parade. Every year but one. In 1967, the parade and all the other traditional “Derby Week” events were cancelled. That year, instead of the usual festival and fanfare, tension was in the air. Civil rights protests and counter-protests had brought the city to the brink of full unrest. As race day approached, Louisville's mayor asked the governor to call in the National Guard to help police Churchill Downs. The Ku Klux Klan had announced they would also be in attendance at the [...]