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Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

“Healing for Democracy”

In Uncategorized on April 30, 2012 at 12:17 am

That was the theme of last week’s W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s 2nd Annual America Healing Conference. The theme “Healing Democracy” comes on the heels of the Trayvon Martin case, on the heels of alleged racialized violence in Tulsa, on the heels of violence in the Middle East, and the Sudan (where battles are occurring over the boundaries separating Sudan from South Sudan), on the heels of a wounded democracy, where battles over budgets, entitlements, the size of government are playing out right before us all.

After giving a presentation to a group of elected officials, economic developers, and teachers, I was once asked whether I thought government, our American government, was broken. I think what the insightful individual was truly asking me is whether democracy is broken. My answer now, as it was then, no it is not, rather it is fractured in some areas. This is what the Kellogg’s conference sought to address, the fractures, especially the fractures and wounds surrounding race in America. It was evident that the advocates, intellectuals, and practitioners present were of diverse opinions on how to heal in the area that Attorney General Eric Holder said we were “a nation of cowards” in.

Healing requires at times removing scabs, requires digging in areas one would rather not, requires even admitting there is a problem to address. Not all agree that America requires healing because for them there is no problem. Yet, there are some areas and cleavages that must be addressed in order for America to move forward as a democracy. And as the 2010 Census illustrates, America is growing ever more diverse in color.

And this too was reflected at the conference, inasmuch that President and Co-Founder of CommonHealth Action Natalie S. Burke acknowledged was a beautiful sight, as well as a significant one, as we move toward healing through dialogue, deliberations, and learning from the other. Vice President of Program Strategy at W.K. Kellogg, Dr. Gail Christopher, summed it up this way: “We have so much to celebrate. What started as an idea, and one of my colleagues reminded me, it really started as a prayer, several years ago, is actually mushrooming into, dare I say, an actual movement for racial healing in this country. And that gives us all a great deal of heart and hope, and pause, because it is tremendous responsibility to shape and guide and see that movement flourish.”

“Let’s straighten it out…”

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2012 at 10:26 am

Trayvon. Skip Bayless. Petrino. Justice. No Justice. Hoodies. Romney. These are what’s trending in my discussions and dialogues with friends and colleagues. We watch, captivating and riveting dialogues, and through it all, we talk about where we are going, where we are coming from, and how far we have come. And still, when I watch or read media, it amazes me that many of us cannot or will not have discussions that challenges our philosophies or traditions, no matter what side of the issue one may sit. Depending on where you sit, Trayvon Martin’s death was a result of racism and fear, while George Zimmerman, the now recently arrested accused murderer is finally brought to justice. Or Zimmerman was “standing his ground” as he was defending his neighborhood, but more importantly his safety. According to Geraldo Rivera, Trayvon, and young minorities like him, should never think about wearing hoodies because it does evoke a fear in people that they will be attacked.

As we wait on the George Zimmerman trial to play out, we are left wondering…what happened, what didn’t happened, where’s the truth? with Trayvon Martin? with George Zimmerman? But what cannot be denied is that for young Black and Brown boys and teenagers, they are the center of discussions because some in society fear them, some fear for them because they are disappearing from the educated halls and classrooms and appearing all too regularly in early graves or prisons. Unfortunately, because of Trayvon we are now talking about the many challenges Blacks and Browns or teens in general who may appear threatening to many of us in society for whatever reason. And this hopefully will open our eyes to the missing kids, a missing future. And still, the challenge left for us is how best to have sensitive proactive discussions without falling to stereotypes, biases and prejudices, or even outright hate to validate our positions, actions/behaviors, or attitudes.