Street Life and…Death

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy, Spiegel & Grau, 2015

I was raised during the Seventies on a cramped block of rundown tenements in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. Each building on my block was a five-floor walk-up. Each apartment–two to a floor–was a railroad-style flat. And in those apartments lived poor families raising passels of kids. Not only was this pre-gentrification but by modern hipster standards, this was downright prehistoric.

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Action Painting

Micro-aggressions have been on my mind lately. Easy for us white guys to dismiss, but when a cab doesn’t pick us up or someone confuses us with some other white guy they once met at a party, it doesn’t trigger an identification with the victims of 500 years of violence and oppression. We rarely take it personally. The key is identification, not identity, though it arises from identity.

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The Price of Victimhood

Instances of police brutality and killing of unarmed Blacks, first revealed by social media, have been a catalyst for widespread expression of grievances about racism in colleges and universities.  According to 538, “the most frequently requested data by protestors was for a survey on the atmosphere in classrooms that would collect information as part of end terms evaluations of subtle forms of racism, often called microaggressions, that are committed by specific professors and lecturers.”  Microaggression: “everyday verbal, non verbal and environmental slights, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”  A far cry from overt racism and hate speech, the alleged “slights” or “insults” may be the unintentional utterances and actions of progressives who would be appalled to discover their unconscious racism.   The solution: “cultural sensitivity training,” conducted in “diversity and inclusion workshops,” resulting in a heightened awareness of the otherness of persons racially or ethnically different.

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