How to Fail at the Race Talk

I failed at the conference for racial justice this weekend. I gave racially tinged advice to a perfectly innocent question that had no race element to it. I mistook one African-American woman with glasses and short hair for a different African-American woman with glasses and short hair, because all African-Americans look alike to us white folks. Multiple...

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A 4th Moment in Mississippi

In the assemble hall at Power Elementary School once a week we’d gather for sing-alongs. Our wooden chairs had squeaky black-hinged seats that flipped up when not in use. Sit too far back and, if you were a skinny, skinny child like me, the seats flipped up when in use as well. In this cavernous space with its regimented rows, I’d belt out while...

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An Outside Plant

He had one plant, small. I had three hanging baskets and two big ferns, fat. He’d been there when I arrived, he and his wife wandering among the plants. It was mid-day Wednesday, no one else at the nursery. A young, spring day. The swarms of eager Memphians hadn’t yet descended on the unsuspecting begonias and geraniums. No one in...

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Targeting LGBT Discrimination in the South

I went to junior high and high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte was the home I returned to in college and law school. When my daddy died, I sang over his grave: “I’m a Tar Heel born, I’m a Tar Heel bred, and when I die, I’m a Tar Heel dead.” The North Carolina legislature recently passed a new law authorizing...

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THAT’s Creativity?

Creativity is the glue that holds my life together. This week in my creative life, I: re-explored Facebook’s Notes feature published a long, involved blog post put together a new outfit that I liked so much I wore it two days in a row did final edits on an essay before sliding it into the metaphorical drawer for its “out of sight/out...

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What Can I Do: Part 4 (or just one more)

Do you call those without housing “the homeless”? Do you talk about “entitlements”? When someone commits a crime, do you respond with “thugs”? James Deke Pope, who has served on the Community Advisory Board of Memphis’s Africa in April, suggests we pay attention to the language we use and change it if...

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What Can I Do-Part 3 (and probably last)

I thought I’d be shot. Dean Andy Andrews announced that, following the Wednesday morning service, he would be walking the neighborhood around St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral. He invited us to join him. I attended the Wednesday service, but I believed if I walked in the neighborhood I’d be shot. You need to know: Alabama Avenue,...

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“Yes, I Mind!”

So, here’s a story, one of my favorite from my young adult years. My sister went to visit her husband’s constitutional law class. The class is full of first year law students at a prestigious law school. Big bombastic law professor (this is the way I remember it.) Anyway, the professor leads the class in a call-and-response. He says, “When the...

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What Can I Do—the Bree Model

She had a crisis of faith. But so much went before that. Her work, her reading, her awareness. Her travel, her commitment, her participation. Her use of her talent. Her love of God. In her statement following her direct nonviolent action of removing the Confederate flag from where it flew on the grounds of the South Carolina capitol, Ms. Brittany...

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