Martin Luther King Jr. and the Complicated Legacy of Our White Past


Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. day. Yesterday was also the day I told my six-year-old daughter that her great-great-grandfather was a member of the Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s. Once she got it---I had to explain what the KKK was, after all---her response was one of utter horror. Or rather, one of horror mixed with bewilderment. "Why?" she asked. "Why?!" When I told her that her great-great-great grandmother used to boast that black people weren't allowed in her county after sundown, her … [Read more...]

New York Times Describes Robert Dear as “Gentle Loner”


Have a look at how the New York Times described Robert Dear, the Planned Parenthood shooter, in an article published over the weekend:For contrast, have a look at the way CNN introduced Freddie Grey, a young black man who died in police custody earlier this year, in an article yesterday:Robert Dear is a "gentle loner" while Freddie Grey is "the son of an illiterate heroin addict."Words matter. A lot.I have neighbors who are recent transplants from India. In speaking with t … [Read more...]

Matt Walsh, Police Brutality, and Victim Blaming

We often talk about victim blaming as it relates to rape, but victim blaming plays a similar function when it comes to police brutality as well. In both cases, we as a society look for something the victim must have done wrong, some way that they surely must have brought what happened on themselves. In the case of rape, we as a society ask whether they drank too much or send the wrong message through their clothing or behavior? In the case of police brutality, we as a society ask whether they … [Read more...]

Public Schools, Police Officers, and Criminalizing Black Girls

We need to talk about the sixteen-year-old South Carolina girl thrown from her desk by a police officer this week. First, some background: Tony Robinson Jr., who recorded the final moments, said it all began when the teacher asked the girl to hand over her phone during class. She refused, so he called an administrator, who summoned the officer."The administrator tried to get her to move and pleaded with her to get out of her seat," Robinson told WLTX. "She said she really hadn't done … [Read more...]

On 911 Caller’s Racial Bias and Police Brutality

While we often talk about police responsibility in cases of police brutality, we rarely talk about the responsibility of those who make the calls that result in acts of police brutality. For example, police who shot and killed John Crawford III while he was shopping in Walmart with his girlfriend were responding to a 911 call that claimed Crawford was threatening people with a gun, claims store surveillance tapes revealed to be false. While police were still in the wrong---they shot Crawford on t … [Read more...]

Marissa Jenae Johnson: Radical Christian, Palin Supporter

Michael Stone of Progressive Secular Humanist here on the Patheos Atheist channel recently posted about the Black Lives Matter protesters who shut down a Bernie Sanders event in Seattle last week. I don't want to address the main thrust of Stone's post---except to note that black activists have plenty of good reasons to be upset with Democratic politicians---but I do want to address two specific points he made.First, this point:[P]erhaps even more damning, on her Facebook page, [Marissa … [Read more...]

No, the African American Womb Is Not More Dangerous Today than during Slavery

Several weeks ago I ran a four-post series looking at conservative theologian Doug Wilson's views of slavery and race. But there's one point I realized afterwards I left unaddressed---and it's an important point, because it's one often used by anti-abortion activists to inject race into the conversation. In his 2005 book, Black and Tan, Wilson wrote the following: Who cannot lament the damage to both white and black that has occurred as a consequence of the way in which slavery was abolished? I … [Read more...]