American history is not black history, and our history is not America's to dictate. Until we understand that and begin teaching our history to ourselves in ways that serve our own cultural needs instead of the majority's, we will continue to internalize this nation's prejudices against us, instead of arming ourselves to appropriately demonize and deflect them.
Jesse Washington was just one black man to die horribly at the hands of white death squads. Between 1882 and 1968 -- 1968! -- there were 4,743 recorded lynchings in the U.S. About a quarter of them were white people, many of whom had been killed for sympathizing with black folks. My father, who was born in 1904 near Paris, Texas, kept in a drawer that newspaper photograph from back when he was a boy of thousands of people gathered as if at a picnic to feast on the torture and hanging of a black man in the center of town. On a journey tracing our roots many years later, my father choked and grew silent as we stood near the spot where it had happened. Yes, it was hard to get back to sleep the night we heard the news of the Jordanian pilot's horrendous end. ISIS be damned! I thought. But with the next breath I could only think that our own barbarians did not have to wait at any gate. They were insiders. Home grown. Godly. Our neighbors, friends, and kin. People like us.
For those who genuinely believed the election of Barack Obama was the arrival of a post-racial America, I hope their examination of the significant opposition to the legitimacy of his first term as president and the continued intransigent opposition to him by a Republican-controlled Congress might provide some degree of a reality check on their belief.
In Richmond, a new alliance of social justice activists and historic preservationists has formed to protect Shockoe Bottom against incompatible development. Leadership of the alliance includes Preservation Virginia; Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality; and a working group of preservationists from nearby Church Hill.
Over the last few months, corporations have found a new way to gain attention on Twitter: tweeting rap lyrics and other allusions to hip-hop culture. The culprit that has most popularly surfaced across Twitter timelines is IHOP, which tweets edited versions of lyrics from songs by artists such as Drake, Trinidad James, and Bobby Shmurda.