Tag: race relations

On Not Being Roseanne Barr: An Awakening in Whitesville


A couple of weeks ago I was in New York City for my son Vince’s graduation from his masters’ program, held at Radio City Music Hall. His sister Jane and I were waiting on the plaza across the street; I was reminiscing geezeresquely about how I used to eat falafels for lunch in this very spot when I worked at Stanley Kaplan in the 1980s. As I scanned the purple-robed throng for my own graduate-to-be, we were approached by what seemed to be three rock stars: a tall man in a low ball cap, a beautiful blond, and an even taller guy with a mane of brilliant, copper-colored hair and a slim black suit. All were wearing dark glasses. It turned out to be my son Vince, his girlfriend Shannon, and his friend Adam.

Black and White Marylanders Disagree on What Racial Inequality Looks Like, New Poll Shows

Photo by Elvert Barnes, via Wikimedia Commons

Most Maryland voters, black or white, agree that race relations are in decline, according to the newest Goucher Poll for fall 2017. But when it comes to the details of how that manifests, there’s an apparent divide along racial lines.

Remembering Madiba



It was early one evening when I was leaving work, and I walked out through the turnstiles at the entrance to the foyer of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. Suddenly, I became aware of a buzz of electricity in the space, and my eyes were drawn to a phalanx of men, with one, tall, striking figure in the center. I had heard of charisma but never experienced it so forcefully before. He was just walking, swiftly, and looking straight ahead, but his magnetism was palpable. It was Nelson Mandela. Once he had passed through the entrance en route to the studios, the foyer felt bereft, flat, colorless. I thought of this moment when I learned of his death. It is not too much to say that a light has gone out in the world with his passing.

The other time I was in Mandela’s presence was at The Market Theatre in Johannesburg, renowned for having been a non-racial theatre at the height of apartheid. The occasion was the 1993 awards ceremony for the prestigious CNA literary prize. As each winner in each category was announced, Mandela, dressed in one of his signature silk, batik, Madiba shirts, stood up to engage them in an intimate and private conversation. No surprise, he won the major award for his autobiography Long Road to Freedom that year, but his gracious warmth to all the nominees clearly made every one of them feel singular.

Maryland MLK Group Unveils Memorial to Honor March on Washington

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Next Wednesday, August 28, marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the most famous civil rights rally in American history. To commemorate the milestone, the Annapolis-based Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee will unveil the nation’s first memorial to the 250,000 “foot soldiers” of the march, that is, the ordinary citizens who risked the threat of personal harm to be there that day. The public is invited to the unveiling of the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial, which includes the names of more than 500 participants. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. in Annapolis’ Whitmore Park on the corner of Clay and Cavert Streets, the site of a bus depot from which Annapolis residents traveled to the March. For further information, go to www.facebook.com/FootSoldiersMemorial or call 443-871-5656.

Breaking Silos: Racial Progress in a Divided Community


Rodney FoxworthThe following essay is re-published with permission from local writer and social entrepreneur Rodney Foxworth. It appeared on the website of Changing Media, a company committed to “helping visionary organizations harness the power of new media for social change.” -The Eds.

I live an intensely bifurcated life, which has begrudgingly placed me in the role of cultural translator and community bridge-builder. And the bifurcation of my life has never been more pronounced than it has been over the past year.

For the past year, I’ve worked to help build a community of social entrepreneurs in the field of Black Male Achievement through BMe, a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Open Society Foundation; concurrently, I’ve helped organize and connect a growing network of (mostly white) self-identified social entrepreneurs and changemakers, with very little overlap between the two communities, a sad reality that haunts me day and night. While there are traumatic structural and historical forces that have produced a city as doggedly segregated as Baltimore (and the world of social change has not been exempted), I’ve largely failed in my responsibilities as an organizer and advocate for Baltimore City.

Celebrate Baseball Season With Author Tom Dunkel and “Color Blind” at The Ivy, Wednesday


dunkel color blind

Celebrate the opening of baseball season on Wednesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. as The Ivy Bookshop and Sports Legends Museum welcome Tom Dunkel to share a largely forgotten story from the sport’s past.

In Depression-era Bismarck, North Dakota, one of baseball’s most unlikely champions assembled one of the most improbable teams in the sport’s history.  A decade before Jackie Robinson broke into the Major Leagues, car dealer Neil Churchill signed the best players he could find to his semi-pro baseball team, regardless of race, and fielded an integrated squad that took on all comers in spectacular fashion. Dunkel’s book Color Blind returns Churchill’s team to its rightful place in baseball history.

Towson’s White Student Union Invites “Moderate” White Nationalist to Campus


Jared Taylor, white nationalist, invited to speak at Towson University

Well, at least the white nationalist that Towson’s new White Student Union has invited to speak on campus next month is a relatively moderate white nationalist. On the other hand…

Jared Taylor, the American journalist invited to Towson’s campus by Matthew Heimbach’s White Student Union, has some, shall we say, unconventional views. He thinks racial profiling is great. He thinks that other races are objectively, provably, biologically less intelligent than white people. His take on Katrina? “When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western Civilization—any kind of civilization—disappears. And in a crisis, civilization disappears overnight.” He thinks we should get rid of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I could go on; I won’t. Okay, one more:  the Southern Poverty Law Center, those experts we all turned to in the wake of the shooting at the Sikh temple, describe Taylor as “the cultivated, cosmopolitan face of white supremacy. He is the guy who is providing the intellectual heft, in effect, to modern-day Klansmen.”

Taking the ZigZag Path to Druid Hill Park


Most people who’ve been to Druid Hill Park don’t actually know it. They go down to the Maryland Zoo (which is right in the middle of Druid Hill) and leave without ever noticing anything else the park has to offer. They don’t see the baseball diamonds, or the historic, famously desegregated tennis courts, or the for-whatever-reason very Asian looking pavilions. They miss the small, historic cemetery, the arboretum, and the surprisingly pristine blue shock of Druid Hill Lake.

This Week in Research: Archaeology in Annapolis; Hospitals at Home


In this series, we look at the newest findings coming out of our area’s top research universities. We’ve got some great minds in Baltimore — let’s learn what they’re learning!

Not all archaeologists get their work done in Egyptian tombs; some of them look at the secrets of the more recent past. Take the research being conducted by University of Maryland archaeology professor Mark Leone, who’s leading students in an excavation of a twentieth-century home. But it’s not just any home — the Annapolis house belonged to an African-American woman who was married to a Filipino man, and Leone is using his findings to explore early twentieth-century immigration conflicts between blacks and Filipinos.

But the story begins much earlier than that, with James Holliday, a freed slave who was one of the first African Americans employed by the U.S. Naval Academy. He bought a house on East Street in Annapolis,  and his granddaughter lived in the same home decades later when she married a Filipino cook in 1919. But racial tensions were running high in the early decades of the twentieth century, and blacks and Filipinos were two disadvantaged groups that were often pitted against one another. The Naval Academy’s Commandant at the time claimed to prefer working with Filipinos because they were “clean, honest, military, studious, amenable to discipline,” and “cost less to feed.”

Unsurprisingly, tensions resulted. “The Academy hired Filipinos to work in the kitchen as messmen, officer stewards or laborers,” says Leone’s graduate student, Kathrina Aben. “In practice, this meant replacing African Americans in their jobs.” But intermarriage was one way that the two groups adapted to one another. “We’re discovering family stories carved in irony,” Leone says. “[This couple was] brought together by its racial stereotyping, and yet overcoming cultural and racial barriers quite successfully in their own lives.”

Talking About Race: MICA to Host Neoslavery Documentary Screening and Discussion


Documentary film “Slavery By Another Name” brings to light a period of history when many negative stereotypes about blacks—some that are still with us—were born. Next Tuesday, May 22, the film will have a screening MICA’s Brown Center at 7 p.m.

Pulitzer Prize-winner and Wall Street Journal senior writer Douglas Blackmon produced the film based on his research.  He will join the screening for a discussion, along with Sharon Malone and Susan Burnore, two descendants who are featured in the film. Actor Laurence Fishburne narrates the movie.

The film explores how, after slavery came to an end in the South in 1865, thousands of African-Americans were pulled back into forced labor. The movie spans eight decades, from 1865 to 1945, revealing the interlocking forces in both the South and the North that enabled “neoslavery” to begin and persist.  Using archival photographs and re-enactments in Alabama and Georgia, it tells the forgotten stories of both victims and perpetrators and includes interviews with their descendants living today.  The program also features interviews with Blackmon and with leading scholars.