Things we think but do not say about race: It’s not a blog, it’s a mission statement.

Things we think but do not say about race:  It’s not a blog, it’s a mission statement.

I’ve been in a writing funk for weeks and it’s all because of the Hunger Games…and Justin Bieber…and his fans.  You see, three weeks prior to the release of the worldwide blockbuster, a young Black boy named Trayvon Martin was shot by a vigilante neighborhood watchmen.  I’m sure by now that you’ve heard the story.

To be honest, though that story troubled me to my core (as I have a son myself), I was able to compartmentalize it because unfortunately, young Black boys getting shot by other Black boys, cops, and people in pickup trucks is nothing new.  Soon thereafter, I went to the movies to see Hunger Games, a movie that I knew nothing about except for the fact that it involved teenagers, bows and arrows, and a love triangle between two boys and a “girl on fire”…whatever that meant.

So I apprehensively went to see this movie and it did not disappoint in its seemingly effortless ability to be thought provoking and deeply troubling.  Though it was filled with people with purple hair and computer generated hybrid animals, the ominous themes of the movie – and their relationship to current events – could not be ignored.

But that’s not what put me in a funk.

When I reflected about the premature death of Trayvon Martin, I could only hope that racism would die with Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y, and Next.  We may be tainted by what we have seen and overheard from our elders, but I was hopeful that this next generation of youth would finally escape the seductive clutches of prejudice.    Justin Bieber and Jaden Smith are best friends…so the end of racism must be upon us, at least that’s what I thought.

When the uproar started over the casting of Hunger Games, I was surprised at my own reaction to it.  I hadn’t read the series, I hadn’t even heard of it prior to the week before its release.  So why was I so affected by the uproar and dare I say, why were my feelings so hurt by strangers’ apathy and ambivalence towards a Black character getting killed?

It’s because I saw myself in her.

As I sat and watched the movie and saw the little girl die, I cried.  In fact, I cried like someone that I knew personally died.  I cried an ugly, “I just got a whooping” cry.  I was hurt.  But to read that thousands of kids and yoga moms, across the world saw this character’s death as “less sad because she was Black” made my heart hurt.  If this beautiful little girl’s death didn’t invoke emotions, surely no one would care if a little Black boy died.  No one would care if a Black mom died.  No one would care if a Black father died.

This revelation saddened me but it also disturbed me because it came from the perspective of a generation of people with whom my son would likely interact. It was an unfortunate addition to a list of worries that I would be unable to protect him from:  street corners, cops in the South, paint cans and now…teenie boppers.

So I got pissed off.

I was pissed because I thought about the immense stupidity of racism which deems someone as less than human because of a physical attribute.  It is truly a phenomenon started by idiots…and assholes. I also started thinking about what keeps racism so engrained in our psyches, and I believe it’s because we don’t talk frankly about it with our racial counterparts.  So in effort to do my part on this Earth, I thought I’d give it a shot.   This may spark dialogue or it may not.  I won’t tag this with a news-worthy title to get internet traffic.  These are simply my random thoughts about race, a few statements and a lot of questions.   All I hope for is that if you are reading this that it will make you think, reflect, and start a dialogue with someone else.

On the N-Word

Nigga. Nigga. Nigga. Nigga. Nigga.  Say it aloud or to yourself.  Then hopefully, everyone could put it out of their vocabulary.  But I know this won’t happen.  Black people say the n-word to refer to anything from Black men to eggs to sandwiches.  In my mind, people of all colors get a pass if they are over the age of 90 because they aren’t going to change anytime soon.  My grandmother will use this word (when describing gang bangers) until she goes to heaven and I have come to accept that.  But what I don’t get for the life of me is this: Why do other races feel JUSTIFIED in using it, even if the intent is not malicious?

If I say cracker, honkey, chink, wetback, or any other derogatory term as a Black person, I can’t suspend the obvious negative connotations of those words – even if I am in the presence of other races who are using the words themselves.  Other races justify using the n-word since Blacks use it but society has never made these same accommodations for other unsavory words used to identify someone by their ethnicity.  But that doesn’t mean that Blacks should use it either.  BLACK PEOPLE, BLACK PEOPLE…please set the example for how you want the world to treat you.

Black people and education, jail, teen pregnancies, and welfare

I once worked at a consulting firm where I was the only Black.  During staff meetings, we’d begin with general topics of current events.  Whenever the topic of gang violence or teen pregnancy came up, the Director would smile and motion towards me.  During debates on welfare, I’d get a nod from several coworkers.   I wondered during these meetings whether I should volunteer that I don’t know anyone in jail or that I had never seen a drive-by.  Should I tell him that my parents made six figures and had paid off their house?   Would I lose my street credibility in the office if I informed them I didn’t lose my best friend to crack but instead to malaria when she visited Ghana during a foreign exchange program while attending college?

I decided not to enlighten my coworkers because my hard core ethnic status meant that they didn’t bother me most of the time.

Sometimes the assumptions that are left unsaid are worse than outright prejudice.   Many Blacks know nothing about crack cocaine or how to get food stamps.  Don’t assume that we all have intimate knowledge of gang warfare or would feel any more comfortable walking into the projects than you would.

The “race card” and “race baiting”

Yes, Black people admit it.  There is a race card.  OJ and R. Kelly did it.  Kobe probably didn’t but Mike Tyson probably did.  We need to be more discerning with our claims that the “white man” did it.  I personally look with skepticism when Jesse Jackson Sr. appears from out of thin air.

But on the other hand, as we have seen over the events of past few weeks, racism is in fact still alive and well.  Hopefully, this has enlightened the viewpoints of Blacks, White, Latinos, and Asians alike.  Yet, if Blacks must have a come to Jesus meeting about the race card, then non-Blacks must have the same realization about “race baiting”.  Replacing the word “Black” with the terms urban-dwellers, hip-hop community, bbq-lovers, and ethnic supporters of Barack Obama are thinly veiled categorizations of the same community.  The act of using racially derisive language in order to incite anger amongst Blacks, while allowing one to hide behind the excuse of “I didn’t say ‘Black’” only belittles the intelligence of African Americans.

Latinos and Asians

As our country becomes more diverse and integrated, I fully understand that topics of race extend beyond the Black/White paradigm.  However, for the purpose of this blog, I can only speak from the perspective of an African American which heavily influences the lens from which I view race issues.  But what I will say about my ethnic counter parts is that our love for hip-hop, salsa dancing, and  Korean barbeque  permanently unites us…whether we like it or not.  (Yes, I’m joking…partially.)

Blacks and Single Dimensional-ness

Black people, Black people…we can be a hard crowd to please.  First we’re mad that Denzel got an Oscar for being a crooked cop.  Then we’re mad at Halle for getting an Oscar because she slept with Billie Bob -Thornton.   From our self-righteous standards, Jamie and Jennifer deserved their Oscars.  But then, it was an affront to Black people that Viola Davis was nominated.  Wasn’t it a good thing that her depiction of as an indentured servant was seen as art and not merely as a blasé reflection of who Black women are?

Then we got mad at Oprah and the organizer of the Kony campaign for helping Africans.  Why not help Black kids in America, many Blacks yelled.  If you are not doing your part to help neither Black Americans nor Black Africans, who are you to complain about what someone else is compelled to do?  This is not a judgment, it’s just a question.

The Black President doesn’t help Black people.

Why rally over Trayvon Martin when five people got shot in Chicago last night?

The list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, Blacks around the globe are in no short support supply of socio-economic problems.  Oftentimes, our single dimensional view of what the right solution looks like prohibits us from making progress.  Somehow we convince ourselves that only Blacks are the ones who are willing, able, and capable of repairing issues that impact other Blacks.  That mindset does our community a severe disservice.

What next?

Let’s start with dialogue.

Do hoodies make you nervous?  Well, white t-shirts make me anxious.

What is it about race that you have always wondered but never said out loud?

As long as you are respectful, your questions, statements, and theories are welcome here.


[Picture courtesy of]


Leave a comment
  • Excellent post! The first question that came to mind was about the Hunger Games' white audiences feeling less sad about a black girl being killed. I would love to see the statistics if the ethnicities were turned changed because I'm curious about the reason for the not caring. I'm wondering if individuals everywhere feel more empathy with a character that is a member of "their group", ie. if Asian Americans would care less about African Americans, or if African Americans care less about someone not from the same ethnic group. Not that it would change anything, but it might reveal an even bigger racial divide.
    The only thing I have come to believe when talking about racial issues, is that you cannot put yourself in other peoples' shoes. If you, as an African American woman tell us that this is what you believe (which, in turn is because of your life experiences), then unless we are the same color and gender, we do not have the right to tell you you're being too sensitive, too aggressive, or whatever the term.
    This light bulb moment came to me watching an Oprah show about twenty years ago; the show was actually about gender discrimination and women's issues, but a white, middle aged corporate fat cat stood up and said that he didn't believe the glass ceiling existed any more. Given that I was currently in the corporate world and staring straight up at said ceiling, my immediate reaction was "How could he possibly know what it's like?"
    Enough said.

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    I should add - even if we are the same gender and color as you, we still don't have the right to negate your opinions and experiences.

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    Expat, Thanks so much for your comment. I think you make an EXCELLENT point about whether racial groups empathize more with the death of someone of their own race. I think that's an interesting point - one that my husband brought up when I discussed this with him.

    I know that I felt sad about the deaths of Natalie Holloway, Caylee Anthony, and numerous other children and teens who are profiled on the news - regardless of their race. But I do think there is something valid about your theory. Would I have been so affected by the apathy of the teenie boppers had the character not been Black? That's something that I am going to think about...

    Thanks again for reading!

  • In reply to Kay S:

    Kay and Expat,

    I do agree with most of what has been said. However, there are only two things that disturb me. 1) the thought process amongst Blacks that Black people are incapible of being racist. That racism is only directed towards Blacks a majority of the time. And 2) Is that most people don't understand that racism is nothing more than disrepect - PERIOD!
    I only have to go back about 19 years but how about OJ?
    I never thought it was him, I'm of the belief that it was him son! I said it from day one and still believe it today. But my point is that had OJ been convicted what would the outcome have been on the streets? But when the verdict was read, I saw first hand that a lot of Black people cheered where I was at the time. And that is when I first realized that we have not come that far in resolving the issues. And personally, I feel that it is a shame that the first Black President was Obama. There are so many more qualified people that could have done a much better job than him. I for one would have voted for Colin Powell or even Condi Rice! Unfortunately, my Black friends say that they are not Black enough (what ever that means) . But that is a conversation for another day.
    People like Jesse and Al Sharpton and Obama himself as the only real job these all have in common is that fact that they were "community organizers" which means what? These people all went to Florida and started the ball rolling that Trayvon was killed with racially motivated reasons. And it very well could be that way in the end. With that being said, it's not up to those guys to make that determination. And all the facts were not heard and still haven't been heard. Lets get the facts before we tie the noose. And what is with Spike Lee? Giving out someones address and causing the problems he did...Lets be fair. Why wasn't he arrested for attempting to incite a riot? What about "the new black panthers) a bounty on the head of Zimmerman before any trial?

  • Thank you so much for this post, Kay! This is a topic so easily avoided as we go about our lives in one of the most segregated cities in the world. This will hopefully present an opportunity to spark some sort of discussion and close that gap just a bit. It seems recent events have yielded an atmosphere that feels more divided than ever so Kudos for broaching the subject!!

  • In reply to 2H2H2C2H:

    Hey 2H2H2C2H!

    That's a pretty cool username. Thanks for your comment and I'm glad that you feel that I did the subject justice.

  • There cannot be an honest discussion on race if the majority of discussion is about how white people are devils. Some are.. Some are not. Same with black, brown, yellow, red.

    As an ordinary honkey who was brought up to see all humans as Jesus, and who tries to live that way, but constantly hears how ingrained our racist thinking is, I give up. I'm tired of the debate. If black people do not think that all whites are devils, then dammit, say something!

    Get rid of the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons. What is with the idea that black people need special spokesmen or leaders? Aren't you sick to death of that humiliating idea? The black community allow itself to be pandered to by preachers in church wearing hoodies during service. What the hell does that prove? Why do you let mayor after mayor come out and decry the shootings but not turn the cops loose like they can and get rid of the scum, because they are afraid of the JJ and AS backlash?

    I'll give you an idea of stereotypes. One black guy I worked with and I were at an event we were working on the south-side. He chuckled and asked me how I managed to find my way down here and weren't I just quaking in my boots. I was taken aback. He lived on the Gold Coast. I lived two neighborhoods away. I said that I lived around here, how about you? No comment.

    I'm tired of the debate, because the so-called "leaders" of the black community do not want a debate. They want a lynching.

  • "What is with the idea that black people need special spokesmen or leaders?". Well, as a woman who doesn't feel represented by white males, I suspect it's the same reason I look to people more like me. The sad fact is that we DO need special representation, because the "representation" we've had before has either chosen to ignore us or stood on the sidelines while others did so. We cannot be guaranteed that our interests are being taken into consideration.

    I realize that not all white guys are evil, uncaring etc. (I'm married to one at the end of the day), but when even the nice guys don't stand up for minorities, it tacitly condones and prolongs the ill treatment.

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    Expat, thanks for responding to this part of Richard's comment. I completely forgot to address this in my response below, but I couldn't have put it better myself. ;-)

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    And I feel "represented" by the spokes heads out there? Please, walk in my shoes for a day. I'm nearly invisible. There are no advocates for someone like me, not that I want one talking for me anyway. I get no special breaks; in fact, it can be argued that being white and male is, among other things, a hiring disadvantage.

    If you think you need special representation, I hope you choose your spokesperson carefully.

    Jackson and Shapton, the self-appointed spokesmen for black people, are poor choices. Of course all black people do not think that white people are devils, but where are the reasonable black spokespeople that will tell Jackson and Sharpton that they foment hate? They do not get a voice, or are shunned by the black majority.

    You know, Expat, when the Russia was still the Soviet Union, the woman there used to complain that the men needed "liberation", because they had been so emasculated by the social activism and structure of the day mandated by the government.. We are seeing the results in the marginalization of men in the US. College enrollment is majority women, for instance. And the majority of professional hires are women, because many, many men are simply not in the game anymore.

    When you assign special spokespeople for groups you are denying the individual. On the Animal Farm it seems that some animals are more equal than others.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    By no means do I want to discount your point-in fact I think it's a great point- but I feel that I have to say that as a white male, I cringe every time I hear another white guy say something like "I get no special breaks". The fact is that you and I do get breaks every day, all day long. Here's just one example: you or I will never be profiled by police the way black males are. It just won't happen. There are hundreds of ways white skin and testicles change the way others treat us. Most are invisible to us because they are so deeply institutionalized, but they exist whether we want them or not.

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    In addition, Expat, if it were not for the many white abolitionists‎ in the UK and here, who stood up for minorities, we might not be having this discussion. Let's not talk about a few hundred thousand who died in a Civil War. Lots of nice dead white guys. Read their letters sometime if you are traveling through the middle of the country and land at the Abraham Lincoln Library. Many were fighting against the "moral abomination" of slavery.

    Maybe some of those "nice guys" should trek to Africa where black enslavement is still a brutal reality. Ah, but how could they understand, no, being that they are just average white guys?

  • Hi Richard,

    1) I responded to your comment from my last post (re Santorum).

    2) In regards to your comment, "There cannot be an honest discussion on race if the majority of discussion is about how white people are devils. Some are.. Some are not. Same with black, brown, yellow, red."

    Amen. I think that's fair. I think we all need to truly internalize this statement - for better or worse.

    3.) I don't think that all white people are devils. Most Black people that I know don't believe this to be true. I wish I could convince you of this. (Virtually shaking you by the shoulders and yelling, "WE DON'T THINK ALL WHITE PEOPLE ARE DEVILS.") LOL. Seriously, that why I wrote this blog Richard. I am not the spokesperson for Black people, but I wanted to express a perspective is a bit more multi-dimensional than what the media portrays.

  • In reply to Kay S:

    Kay, I have worked with people of all colors all over the world in the work that I do. I know that all black people do not believe white people devils, but the tired old saw repeated by the Jacksons and Sharptons and echoed by the popular media, repeat it so often and so much that people throw up their arms and say, "Okay, I'm a devil, black hating racist".

    Actually, you are a hell of a better spokeswoman for a reasoned approach to humanity than Jackson and Sharpton et al. You are a spokeswomen, like it or not. So why not get rid of the pathetic camera hogs?

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Thanks for the compliment Richard but I'll leave "Prime Time" to those who want it. A part of me thinks that Sharpton has fought for so long that he doesn't know how to turn it off. But a part of me also thinks that they both realize that their relevance depends on the presence of racism - whether its perceived or real. In all, I think most people think they should retire and step away from the microphone.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Hey Richard,

    I don't give a damn about AS or JJ, and I'm black. I roll my eyes when most of these windbags and politicians get up and speak, white or otherwise. I can and do speak for myself in my private and professional life. Speaking up gets you two things: good and bad publicity. I grew up middle-class in predominately white suburbs of the East and West coasts. My black parents were college educated in the East and believed they deserved a piece of the American dream, which for them meant not living around blacks. There were negatives and positives for me growing up in segregated communities. I value education, safety and safe neighborhoods, and the right to be left the f@ck alone when I am out and about. I value access to adequate public transportation, good, affordable education, clean drinking water, good air quality, fire and police protection and all the other amenities that make life in the USA worth it.

    What I hate is having to defend myself b/c of the color of my skin. I hate that I haven't found a good black man yet and that maybe I never will. I hate politics and race-baiting. I hate that so many Blacks are in jail. I hate the stereotype of the unwed, single, Black mothers. I hate hearing about baby daddy's. I hate dealing with rude people. I hate groups of men standing on the corner. I hate that I must be concerned about my personal safety as a woman.

    I don't hate being born a black woman in the USA. I don't hate myself. I don't hate others b/c of the color of their skin or ethnicity. I try to treat others as I would want to be treated. I give ppl the benefit of the doubt unless their behavior or motives seem questionable. I trust in my intuition and common sense. I know that I am a good, human being just because I am.

  • Dear "Jesus" your fear and self-loathing concerning others is very palpable.

    Please answer this querie for me, "Jesus," if only white men are depicted all over the U.S. currency, and Santa Claus is only a white man, and so is "Jesus" who in America has morphed into a blue-eyed, blond haired, white man: so why are you complaining about two black men, "Jesus?"

    And black people do not stop Mayors or governments from doing their jobs, "Jesus." People in governments stop doing their jobs because many "Jesus's" just like you accept such crookedness.

    For instance, the only time I have ever seen Chicago use the tax-payers money for street cleaning and community upkeep for ALL neighborhoods, was when Mayor Daley was pandering for the Olympics in Chicago a few years ago.

    Minority and poor communities pay taxes just like the rich, and not-so-rich SUPER-MAJORITY in this city. Shouldn't they have had these services all along? It really would help a lot to stop stealing from these communities, especially since money is money.

    Finally, "Jesus," what is it that bothers you about a community that can advocate for itself? Is it that you are afraid that they will no longer be Without Sanctuary as in the historical past? That's not very nice of you, "Jesus."

  • "Nigga. Nigga. Nigga. Nigga. Nigga. Say it aloud or to yourself. Then hopefully, everyone could put it out of their vocabulary. But I know this won’t happen. Black people say the n-word to refer to anything from Black men to eggs to sandwiches. In my mind, people of all colors get a pass if they are over the age of 90 because they aren't going to change anytime soon. My grandmother will use this word until she goes to heaven and I have come to accept that. But what I don’t get for the life of me is this: Why do other races feel JUSTIFIED in using it, even if the intent is not malicious?"

    THIS IS REALLY SICK, and there are black people who refuse to say that word, and will not address themselves, their family members, their friends, or anyone else black by that word..

    The fact that you grew up with a cussing and disrespectful elder is the reason why you do not understand why it is a mute point to rail against those who are not black and use this word; versus black people who most sadly do so.

    The fact of the matter is that "they" created this word for you, and it is THEIR word. They realize the ownership of this word. You, on the other hand, believe that the elder in your family is the originator.

    Maya Angelou said something recently which is very succinct to this conversation: "It is terrible," she says. "Europeans, or whites, used the N-word; and it is as if the black people say: 'You hate me and show you hate me by using that word. Well, let me show you how to hate me. I can use that word. I can hate myself more than you can hate me.' It's a most vulgar and senseless attitude. My prayer is that young men and women who use that word will rethink."

  • Mrs. Mommy -
    Thank you for your comments. While I respect your viewpoint, please be clear on a few things. I am very clear on the origination of the n-word and I understand that it was created as a hateful term. But it appears that you have completely missed my point entirely. Though you may hate the word, the fact of the matter is that in the world that exist outside of your seemingly self-righteous perspective, the word is used all the time. I didn't create that reality. The fact is that people use the word for various reasons - reasons that are often justified as being non-malicious. My point in repeating it was to imply that we need to 1) get the habitual use of the n-word out of our system - because it serves no good purpose and 2) take the power out of the word. You, in your self-righteousness, assume that my grandmother cusses and is disrespectful but she is a church going, Godly woman. How dare you pass such a judgement? Oh, let me guess, you must wear African garb and have a picture of Martin, Malcolm, and JFK in your living room. I mean really. Your self righteousness makes my stomach churn, how about that? If you are quick to peg every Black person who says the n-word as a heathen, then I assure you that you are probably surrounded by devils. Thanks for your comment.

  • In reply to Kay S:

    "Your self righteousness makes my stomach churn, how about that?"

    I'll take that over what you and your "godly" grandmother prefer call me.

  • Kay, I commend you on taking on America's greatest taboo subject with a sense of humor and honesty. If the discussion is to take place it has to be with smile, yes? Ironically, I think the same ignorance that fosters racism is the ignorance that prevents all of us from engaging in discussion in any sort of meaningful way. We have to stop thinking of race in monolithic terms and painting with such broad brushes however having said that, I would like to take it upon myself to apologize for the goofiness you experienced as a consultant. On behalf of white business people working with minority consultants everywhere, I apologize. Of course I'm assuming your co-workers were white. It seems white people have a habit of stumbling into steaming piles of stereotypical thinking - but quite innocently, mind you. It isn't always racism and maliciousness at the heart of that sort of behavior and minorities should take some encouragement from their discomfort when discussing the plight of blacks in America because it shows they are, at the very least, concerned with appearing insensitive or unconcerned and in agreement with them concerning the inequities in our society at most. I regret that it takes a death, a public beating or gross malfeasance by law enforcement or government to initiate discussions on race and sadly one must wade through a lot of useless ugliness and stupidity on all sides before any real dialog starts to take place. Let me be the first to say I'm no saint and hardly innocent of what somebody somewhere would label 'racist' but it also happens that I'm not alone in this, in fact I'm in the august company of everyone else breathing air on the planet. I'm looking forward to reading how you take on your mission.

  • In reply to Notelling:

    Notelling.... stop painting with a broad brush, you say?

    Then on behalf of "white businesspeople everywhere", you apologize?

    Please do not apologize for me. Your projection of "everybody" doing it is what keeps the falsity alive.

    Apologize as an individual, and let the rest of us handle ourselves, thank you. Your guilt is your guilt. Period.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Lighten up, Richie. Go have yourself another blue ribbon. Here, I'll rephrase it just for you: the apology is offered on behalf of educated, intelligent non-troll business people. So there you go, friend, obviously you're not included in that population.

    I'll bet your shoulder is tired so dump the chip - l'il freebie from me to you.

  • In reply to Notelling:


    Thank you for your kind comment. Honestly, I really did not think that my coworkers were being racist. I know they just made assumptions about my background which I found slightly humorous.

    "...minorities should take some encouragement from their discomfort when discussing the plight of blacks in America because it shows they are, at the very least, concerned with appearing insensitive or unconcerned and in agreement with them concerning the inequities in our society at most."

    That's a very good point and I agree with you.

  • Thank you for this article. First let me say that my background is such that we were not allowed to use the n word, ever. It was right up there with any other 'swear word' as my 84 year old mom would say. As an adult I live in a 90+ % white community and grew up in white bubble in a somewhat more diverse demographic(Saginaw, MI). I am constantly reminded that living in 'leave it to beaver land' gives me no credibility about how 'real' people live. I hope where I live doesn't condemn me. I can only try to do the best I can.
    I'd like to say that I'm not bigoted but I don't think I can be the one to make that judgement. I can only say that I don't let it pass when someone in my presence says the n word. It is my hope that I can influence at least a few people to think about the harm saying it does.
    As for the Hunger Games, when the little girl made her first appearance I knew she was doomed. Not because of her skin color but because in pretty much all movies the screenwriters like to kill off the cutest, most vulnerable looking, lovable character. We used to joke about it always being the young blond boy. Anyway, It was not her color for me; it was her vulnerability and age.
    We are all products of our environment and the stereotypes that go with it but at some point we have to think for ourselves. That is the most important thing, thinking. That is the only path to the possibility of change. Maybe then we will stop accepting what is and demand what should be.

  • In reply to willowssister:

    Thanks for your comment Willowssister!

    First and foremost, don't apologize for being where you are from! Regardless of what they say, most people would love to live in "Leave it to Beaverland". The world needs as many kind and decent people as it can get. By setting a positive standard of decency for all people, regardless of race, you are helping that mentality to permeate throughout your community -- one that may never even think about race simply because it is so homogeneous.

    In regards to your comment:
    "...Not because of her skin color but because in pretty much all movies the screenwriters like to kill off the cutest, most vulnerable looking, lovable character...."

    I never thought about that but that's so true!

    Thanks again for your comment!

  • fb_avatar

    Great article. I get where you were going with the n word, n word, n word, n word even if mrs mommy doesn't get the point. I can't even say that word in my head and I hope that things keep getting better so my children won't have to deal with stuff like this. I'm starting to think grandchildren is more realistic though.

    Off to find your sanatorum post now. Loony! So happy he dropped out!

  • In reply to Autumn Maronuik:


    Thanks for your comment!

    (Crossing my fingers for our grandchildren as well. ;-) )

  • Kay--Thanks!

  • In reply to chefman:


    No problem! Thanks for the support!


    The Butchering of Gaddafi Is America’s Crime

    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    “Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared like ghoulish despots at a Roman Coliseum, reveling in their Libyan gladiators’ butchery.”

    Last week the whole world saw, and every decent soul recoiled, at the true face of NATO’s answer to the Arab Spring. An elderly, helpless prisoner struggled to maintain his dignity in a screaming swirl of savages, one of whom thrusts a knife [4] up his rectum. These are Europe and America’s jihadis in the flesh. In a few minutes of joyously recorded bestiality, the rabid pack undid every carefully packaged image of NATO’s “humanitarian” project in North Africa – a horror and revelation indelibly imprinted on the global consciousness by the brutes’ own cell phones.

    Nearly eight months of incessant bombing by the air forces of nations that account for 70 percent of the world’s weapons spending, all culminating in the gang-bang slaughter of Moammar Gaddafi, his son Mutassim and his military chief of staff, outside Sirte. The NATO-armed bands then displayed the battered corpses for days in Misurata – the city that had earlier made good on its vow to “purge Black skin” through the massacre and dispersal of 30,000 darker residents of nearby Tawurgha – before disposing of the bodies in an unknown location.

  • fb_avatar

    Wonderful article!! It is really about time that we do discuss our grievances and misunderstandings in an open forum and try our best-all of us-to leave the negativity out. I really have two questions, both one to whites or any other non-minority race, and the second to blacks (I hope that we can take this opportunity to be self-reflective as a race).
    I have always wondered how is it that in 2012 people of all races have not come to realize that negative is universal. Meaning, why do most non-minority races find it seemingly impossible to understand that what is perpetuated on television does not determine a group as a whole? I get it that there are many depictions of blacks on tv that is negative. Let Fox News tell it and we are the devil incarnate. Yet, with so many arguments out there that point out the negative slant that most media may have on minority cultures, you would think that maybe someone would understand that not every black person is out to rape and pillage their community. I am black. My friends make up a multitude of different races. None of us have kids out of wedlock. All of us were raised in a two-parent home. None of us have gone to jail. We can and do speak English, not ebonics. All of us have gone to college or are currently attending a post-graduate program. I don't wear a weave. And the list continues. Yet, in my field of work, I find that most of the majority culture believes that I am some sort of anomaly. Not once have I ever believed that all whites were racist. Neither have I ever gone into a lower class white, Asian, Hispanic, etc. neighborhood and understood that to be the representation of the whole. I have never assumed that any white guy with a mustache and 80's glasses is a child molester, every bald guy with a sunburn is a skinhead, etc. I just don't understand how any group can be so completely narrow-minded into thinking that my nature and upbringing is so outside of the norm. Where does the blanket application of negative concepts for any race begin and end and why can't some just take what we are spoon fed in the media to be just what it is: reporting on a case by case basis?

    Secondly, Black people, my people! We are not so far off to blame. We are not victims. Life is hard and we have some disadvantages. Get over it. It does not make it impossible. My question to any that would like to enlighten me is this: at what point do we (or can we) get over the color complexes within our own effing community? Slavery existed. So did (does) apartheid, the civil rights movement, paper bag test, etc. etc. I get it. We've had it all a little rough. Does it make it any easier that the term 'black, ugly as hell' is such a common phrase among us? Or 'pretty and lightskinned-ed-ed'? Do you all get how self-deprecating we have become by holding onto these ridiculous ideologies? We now have little girls wearing sew ins so they can be 'pretty'. NONE OF US HAD A CHOICE IN THE COLOR OF OUR SKIN, so why can't we just appreciate the variances that exist among us? Dark-skinned and light skinned blacks have one commonality and that is we are not white, and we will never be. For any beautiful woman out there of a dark complexion with a story to tell as how she was picked on because of her skin, I can find you a beautiful fair skinned woman that can tell you the same thing. It is all just wrong. We can't outdo each other on who had it worse. We are our only hope to changing anything within our community. Let us not rest on something that we all recognize is such a petty thing. Grow up, people, please!

  • In reply to Tiffany Turner:

    Tiffany -
    Thanks for your comment! You get an "amen" all around!

  • What a well written article! You said honesty, so I'll come with a comment that is like I think: I saw this was a racism piece and immediately thought "Here we go. Another angry black woman griping about how racism affects her - blah blah."

    There are so many pieces out there on this topic that are written from a judgmental, close minded point of view that it blurs all future potential readings for me. They immediately put the reader on the defensive if they are a member of the race that they are attacking, therefore closing all messages, only engaging potential arguments. The issue shifts from racism to slavery and to my gearing up to defend myself for something I did not do that happened a long time ago.

    When this topic is broached with such a spirit of anger it stops all beneficial messages. I mean, the anger is not always unwarranted, albeit in some cases, it's totally valid, the writer being whatever color, "I can't get the same benefits because I am white. I got passed over for a job because I am black. I am angry because they call me Mexican and not Hispanic." - whatever. I bet 9 times out of 10 those people are such obnoxious parties to deal with; they are never looking inward to see their source of defeat. It really soils the market share of people like you. I am the first to admit, I am a southern white chick, middle upper class who never has experienced racism at ALL. Until I was in the car with my housekeeper (I know, bad cliche there) and when I got pulled over for a bad blinker light, they asked for my license, naturally. Then, they asked for hers- "if you don't have an ID, I need your papers."


    It sucks that that sort of stupid behavior still exists. Sure, protect our borders and work to fight against illegal immigrants that work tax free, by all means. But have some damn tact.

    Articles like this one help ignorant people who really don't understand get the jist of what is going on in some parts of the world. I think it is STUPID to still base anything on color. We are all mutts, so get over yourself.

    I think we should laugh at ourselves more. Racism is beyond even an sustainable point of dissension. It's too dumb. Ok, fine call me cracker. My mother said after hearing my say the word, "nigger" as a really young kid, "there is a nigger in every color, you idiot, you are making yourself look stupid." HOW true is that?

    God don't like ugly. He really hates the oversensitive. HOW He must feel bad for those who hold onto the "n" word and keep breathing life into it's hate by always calling out anyone who says it. It is out there. Take it's power away by not being afraid of it and not being so afraid of talking about it. It's the people who use it hatefully that have the problems. Not the people being called that.

    Why shouldn't white people swim? Cause crackers get soggy when wet. HELLO? It's funny... whatever.

    I am glad for writers like you that are gifted with the art of making it feel like you are reading a friends email rather than a piece covering a horrid facet of society driven by hate.

  • In reply to brandi97:


    Thanks for your comment and most of all your honesty!

    I am so glad that you brought up the ABW (Angry Black Woman) stereotype! Jesusbeafence! Personally, that's a pretty frustrating topic that I've dealt with in the past. I can be happy 99.9 percent of the time, but as soon as I get mad over something, BAM! I'm an ABW...Why can't I just be a woman who is mad that someone stole my lunch out the refrigerator? Ay caramba!

    Sorry, I digress.

    I'm glad that you brought that up because to echo the comment of Tiffany Turner, I'm not that unique. I promise, if there is one point that I hope people take away from this dialogue is that independent thinking, open-minded, and funny Black folks exist! ;-) Unfortuntately, to speak to Richard's point, the only viewpoints that are heard on a national basis are often times from those who see a benefit in putting "us" against "them".

    As I mentioned earlier, I'm not hear to demonize those voices either - I believe that some people become so accustomed to fighting that they don't when they aren't in the face of an enemy. But in general, I tend to believe that the easiest way to defeat an "enemy" is to make him a friend.

    Thanks again for your comment! You have an interesting perspective that you bring to the table. If you aren't a blogger/writer, I hope you consider becoming one!

    Best, Kay ;)

  • Kay,
    What you call "racism" will not go away as long as you have a vast uneducated, criminal underclass victimizing the public.

    Instead of focusing on what you call "racism" (in reality a realistic response to underclass crime), you can make a real contribution by promoting a culture that values education.

  • Empiricist,

    Thanks for your comment. In plain language, are you saying that as long as Blacks rob and steal, that mainstream society will continue to treat us as thieves? Say it ain't so empiricist, say it aint so...

    If that is what you are saying then let me assure you that a majority of Blacks aren't thieves my friend, we just play them on t.v....unfortunately.

    If I were to subscribe to those same generalizations about other races, I wouldn't leave my house. I hope that life allows you the benefit of meeting many of the awesome, educated, and non-lethal Black people that surround me on a daily basis. ;-)

    Best, Kay

  • Hi Kay,

    I wasn't talking about the many wonderful black people. I was talking about the underclass.

    See this excerpt for a sense:

    “Pareene goes on: "this world of race riots and constant violent attacks on innocent Caucasians exists only in the imaginations of Matt Drudge and the paranoid suburban and exurban white people he wants to keep terrified." But Drudge is not generating the terror; black violence is. Yen Nguyen was terrified as she watched her 72-year-old husband being beaten to death by blacks in the senseless "knock out" game. Let Pareene find a story where whites did something similar and it was swept beneath the rug. Shaina Perry was terrified when she was being taunted and beaten in Milwaukee. Carter Strange was terrified while his skull was fractured in South Carolina, and Dawid Strucinski was terrified while being beaten into a coma in Bayonne. Anna Taylor, Emily Guendelsberger, and Thomas Fitzgerald were terrified as they were kicked on the ground in separate flash mobs. The 38 blacks who were arrested for four month's worth of mayhem in Denver, including the murder of Andrew Graham, are the source of terror, not Drudge."

  • In reply to empiricist:


    I hear what you are saying. I think that we can agree that violence, perpetuated by those in poverty, isn't a "Black poverty issue" as people of all races commit crimes. Criminal underclasses gives everyone a bad rap as there can be Black gangbangers, White thieves, Latino thugs, or Asian murderers. But your sentiment of promoting a culture of education is certainly not lost. Is can't be a coincidence that Chicago's high school graduation rate is low, while gang activity remains high. Thanks for your comment and the link to the story!

  • fb_avatar

    Bias in our society is unfortunately ingrained, for example, I would feel more threatend walking a dark alley with a black man approaching than a white man, it's unfortunate but it's our conditioning. Racism does still exist but as a society we are overcoming prejudices that have plagued us for hundreds of years, and it CAN'T be eliminated overnight.

    With that said, there has been alot of progress made in a short amount of time, all things considered. Most of the issues we face with race relations is a result of ignorance, and not downright racism. I'll never forget roommate from my freshman year in college told me he would've probably been racist had he not had the experience of being my roommate; his experiences prior to meeting me was television and maybe 2 other balcks from his town who were less than reputable. We also, naturally, as humans tend to identify with those who look/sound/act like us. I went to a predominately black high school and this was even evident there.

    As far as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, these people are as counterproductive to race relations as it gets without throwing on a white hood and yelling white power. It's similar to taking antibiotics months after the infection is gone, it harms the body more than it helps. One time in our society there was a need for this kind of racially motivated political figure, now it feels as if these figures pop up for personal gratification rather than to fight injustice. Injustice is no longer just a racial issue, but it affects class, age, gender, etc.

    I am just randomly rambling about certain thoughts pertaining to the issue (and typing only phone lol). So some things may seem a little incoherent but this is a sprinkling of my ideas as it pertains to race relations as they are in the US now.

  • In reply to Tre O’Neal:

    You are misusing the word "prejudice." Prejudice means pre-judging, i.e. having views about something without an empirical basis. When you have an empirical basis, then it becomes a judgment.

    In your dark alley example, your fears are justified. Lacking full knowledge of a stranger you encounter in a dark alley (lack of personal knowledge is the very definition of stranger), the next best thing you can do is to be guided by probabilities. Experience shows that young black males commit a vastly disproportionate amount of crime and consequently the young black male you encounter is much more LIKELY (probabilities again) to commit a crime.

    All this is commonsensical. It's the perversion of "liberalism" that it requires you to throw common sense to the winds for the sake of "liberal" dogma.

    I used to subscribe to this "liberal" dogma when I was younger, and it got me into life-threatenig situations.

  • In reply to Tre O’Neal:


    Thank you for your comments and your honesty! I think, unfortunately, many people can relate to your feelings about seeing a Black man versus a White man in a dark alley. But if you ask me...I'd run the other way regardless! Who walks in a dark alley unless you are up to no good? Sorry, I digress (smile)...

    I agree that we have made much progress on race. The responses that I've received from this blog is an example of that. What I have been encouraged by is this; though most of us have some preconceived notions about race, at the end of the day everyone just wants a chance to prove their own goodness for themselves. Blacks don't want to be stereotyped as uneducated, angry, hoods and Whites don't want to be stereotyped as racist bigots. That seems so simple...I wonder why we make it so hard?

  • Why do you let Whites look to you for welfare info? There are more Whites on welfare and they receive more benefits than any other ethnicity. Look it up.

  • In reply to Chelle:

    When you say "more" are you talking about rates or absolute numbers. If absolute numbers, can you tell me what the rate (per capita) is?

  • In reply to Chelle:

    Are you talking about total numbers of recipients or percentages of each racial category?

  • The 'N' word (spelled as if it ends in 'a') has become a staple of the teen language. It's used by them because of the shock value it has with adults.

    And seriously, white t-shirts make you nervous? Or is that just a race-baiting comment?

  • In reply to RegularGuy:


    I recognize that the N-word is used in teen language, I'm just expressing my opinion that I don't think it should be acceptable. If my son walked in the house (he's only 1 so he can't talk yet)...but if he ever called another race by a derogatory term then he will get slapped across the face. Period.

  • In reply to Kay S:

    Oh, and I was serious about white t-shirts. It's not enough to make me call the police but I do make assumptions about Black teens who wear long white t-shirts. I'm a work in progress as we all are.

  • Thank you for addressing the issue of race in a friendly and non-confrontational way.

    I'm white, female and 40. I was raised in a comfortably middle-class family (not there now, alas) where racial epithets were never used and the color of a person's skin was treated as being of no consequence. My parents were staunch Republicans and had their blind spots; my dad hated rap music, for example, but considering he was old enough to be my grandfather and then some and my mom had me at the age of 42, I've always thought they were reasonably progressive in their thinking.

    I'm actually more uncomfortable around black people now than I was as a child, because these days I've seen so many people declare that to be 'color blind' is not good enough; that special concessions must be made for minorities and that my privilege as a white person automatically puts me in the moral doghouse in any situation.

    I feel as though I must walk on eggshells, self-censor every word I say and continually apologize for being born white; that I am not allowed to have an opinion on race relations because I'm not a member of a minority; that my good intentions carry no weight whatsoever and my sympathy or attempts at solidarity are not welcome; and that minority members are fully within their rights to insist that my behavior meet their expectations, but are not to be bothered with asking what they do expect (which often turns out to be different from one person to the next.) Generally if I mention any of this, I get a chorus of 'Oh, you poor privileged white baby, waaaah.' It's discouraging, and occasionally exhausting, and sometimes it makes me want to just give up and embrace being an ignorant, privileged white asshole since I'm apparently incapable of being anything else.

    As for what I actually think about race relations: I haven't seen The Hunger Games, but I'm always sorry to see any child harmed. I don't understand why it's considered okay for one group to use words to describe themselves that they won't tolerate from any other group, but I also feel that people in general endow simple words with too much power and that epithets would cease to be a problem if enough people simply decided they weren't one. I do believe that white privilege exists and needs to go away; I also believe, as you say, the 'race card' does exist too. I acknowledge that large-scale oppression of minorities is built into the system, and this needs to change, but I don't buy the idea that this means white people can't be the target of racism or discrimination, or that it's not really a problem when they are.

    Race-based hate, discrimination and injustice is wrong no matter who's involved or on what level. It just seems like such a simple, commonsense principle, and it boggles my mind that there's still such a vast and complicated set of problems surrounding the whole issue. I also understand that I do have the luxury of treating it all as a matter for intellectual and philosophical debate because I don't have to live in the middle of it, and I hope you won't think less of me if I say I'm grateful that this is so. I just wish that nobody else did either.

  • In reply to Ambular:

    im Black & I hate socially irresponsible rap music as well.

  • In reply to Ambular:


    Thank you so much for your comment!

    "Race-based hate, discrimination and injustice is wrong no matter who's involved or on what level. It just seems like such a simple, commonsense principle, and it boggles my mind that there's still such a vast and complicated set of problems surrounding the whole issue. I also understand that I do have the luxury of treating it all as a matter for intellectual and philosophical debate because I don't have to live in the middle of it, and I hope you won't think less of me if I say I'm grateful that this is so. I just wish that nobody else did either."

    Amen. I appreciate your honesty and most of all your perspective.

  • I was so surprised to hear about there being talk of a racial divide over The Hunger Games. I'm a little southern white stay at home mom, and I cried until I couldn't breath just reading it. It is one of the main reasons I haven't been to see the movie.
    As for the hoodie question, if it isn't raining or really cold, there is usually no good reason to have the hood up. Regardless of race or gender, it makes you look like... well, a hood. Before Trayvon Martin, the person most famous for wearing their hood up was the Unibomber in his police sketch. He was white, and I would have crossed the street if I had seen him coming.

  • In reply to Rixie:


    Your comment actually made me laugh out loud. As I mentioned in the article, I too, cried like I was having an asthma attack. It was intense!

    I'm partial to hoodies because I wear one when I leave the gym so no one will see my sweat-induced afro (not that there is anything wrong with an's just not my hairstyle of choice). ;-)

  • Human Race = F E C E S

    F E C E S = Human Race

  • Great post. However, another one of those assumptions would be to not assume that "every Black person says the n-word to refer to anything from Black men to eggs to sandwiches." I am a Black man, from the hood, used it often until a decade ago, moved away, gotten educated & will NEVER use that word again. I now absolutely, with every fiber of my being detest that very word. I cringe when anyone says it around me, yes Black folk, that I will go out of my way to educate them on that word. I do not consider that word a term of endearment but a mentally enslaving tool perpetuated through generations. I've had talks with my son on the history of the N word so he will never use. I just wish that word hadnt become the social norm but sadly it has.

  • In reply to CDRC:


    Thank you for your comment and most of all for correcting (and checking) me!

  • Kay,
    I commend you not only on the excellent write-up on race, but also on actually going through and commenting on all of these comments. I apologize for the incredibly long post, but I wanted to tell you two stories of mine.
    First let me give you my demo. I'm a mid 30's white male from southwest Georgia and am a scientist living in the midwest. Being a scientist, I am currently conducting a science experiment of my own at my house. I am the father of three children. My oldest, a 5 yr old girl, is currently in pre-school and will be starting kindergarten next year. To my knowledge, she is unaware of race as we (adults) know it. She is exposed to a huge array of races and cultures and to date she has never asked why anyone dresses the way they do or why anyone’s skin color is different. She is young and innocent and has not been “tainted” by society if you will. My question is this: when and how will she become aware of different races and how will she respond? I think we can all agree that it is inevitable.
    I have a hypothesis on this. I believe that she will become “aware” (not racist) when she starts to take a social studies or history course in gradeschool. I believe this because this is how it happened to me. I lived in Georgia most of my life. My family was not racist I was for the most part, as best I can remember, unaware of the tension between races. I remember in 5th grade having to take a Georgia history class in which we learned about slavery. Now I don’t believe this happened over night, but very gradually there was sort of a voluntary segregation among my class of students. I can’t pinpoint how many black friends I had pre and post GA history class, but I know that it was much less and in my opinion this was due to what we had learned over the years in school about how blacks had been treated by whites in a time that our own existence hadn’t even been imagined.
    I think this is part of the problem. I don’t know where to draw the line, but once we know what our ancestors have dealt with (and trust me, I am well aware that my ancestors had a cake-walk in comparison to Africans) things completely change for us. I once heard on television that everyone has some degree of racism inside of them. I actually believe this and no matter how hard I try, even though I know deep down inside and agree that there is no difference between us, there is something that gravitates me towards my own race and a part of me feels guilty about this. I would never wish harm on anyone because of their race and I don’t feel that whites are better than blacks, but maybe I have some sort of animosity towards African-Americans because I THINK that they think that I owe them something because of something that I never was never a part of. I wonder, if we were to cut the history of this country out of school, would our children see race differently. Maybe if we delayed this subject until children were a little older and more mature, would things be different? I wonder if you could put a degree or percentage on racism and track it through the generations, would we find that over time generations get less racist?
    My second story is short, but I just wanted to tell this to anyone that wants to hear it. At work, I lost something that was not valuable at all but of course had sentimental value to me. I can pinpoint the exact time and location that this went missing. I asked a custodian (African-American female) if she had seen it and taken it to lost and found. She immediately went defensive on me saying that she didn’t steal it and she accused someone else in the building of taking it. The idea that someone stole this item had never entered my mind. It was worthless! Obviously her reply to my question was very curious though and got me thinking. I told a couple people about this and I was immediately painted as the white guy blaming the black female custodian for stealing this worthless item. And that is the problem. If I do think that she took this item, it’s because of the way she responded to my question. Her sex, race and occupation had nothing to do with it. I only asked her if she’d seen it because she is all over the building, sweeping the floors, etc. She’s the most likely to see it. I think this relates to what you were saying about single dimensional-ness in that whites accuse each other of being racist just because they think that a black person might have done something wrong and they want to paint themselves in a positive light for everyone else to see.
    In the Trayvon Martin case, I obviously feel terrible for the family and can sympathize with. I have kids of my own and I love them with all of my heart just like the Martin’s love Trayvon. I tried to not let the media poison my mind on this case. In other words, I actually wondered what really happened. Did Martin really attack Zimmerman? I wasn’t there! I live 900 miles away. Am I supposed to just say that Zimmerman wrongly shot Martin so that people won’t think I’m racist? Well that is exactly what I do.

  • In reply to polyonomous:


    Thank you for sharing your stories, insight, and perspective. I want to write more about your experiment with your daughter but my son is demanding attention from me right now. I will respond back to you shortly!

  • "I am a politico gone rouge"

    Do you really mean "rouge" (red) or perhaps "rogue"?

  • In reply to empiricist:

    That's pretty hilarious! Thanks for bringing that error to my attention. Nice to know you were interested enough to read more about me!

    While I may be an alright writer, I'm undeniably a crappy proofreader.

  • I am giving my opinion as a 62 year old woman labeled "white" based on the color of my skin.

    I think at the core of racism is both ignorance and anger . To educate myself, I recently watched a documentary on the horrible way blacks slaves were treated DURING and AFTER slavery. Emancipation (without reparations, education, and legal protections) made newly freed blacks easy pickings for racist predators. Government was often part of the problem rather than the solution.

    I was shocked to learn how black men were falsely imprisoned, labeled as criminals, and put on chain gangs. Blacks were terrorized and lynched. Family structures were destroyed. I honestly had no idea that this chapter in history existed. It was glossed over in my "white" history books.

    To say "That was then, this is now. Just get over it." won't cut it. The injustice is horrible and inexcusable. To have it ignored or downplayed is itself unjust. You have a right to be angry. Forgive us our sins, not just for our sake, but for your own. Let's pledge together to never permit this kind of injustice again.

    Let's educate ourselves. Learn from history and seek reconciliation. Find out what IS working and let's do MORE of it. Even in the worst of times there were people who put their own lives on the line to stand against injustice. There are many of us "whites" who want to see you prosper as well.


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    Kay S

    Kay Smith is a Chicago-based freelance writer and blogger who focuses on race, politics and urban culture. Having worked on public policy at the state, regional, city and community level, her opinions have been featured in the Chicago SunTimes and a host of news websites (under very mysterious sounding pseudonyms). Follow her on Twitter @kaywillsmith or contact her at

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