Even 150 years later, it's clear that the wounds of the Civil War are not completely healed. But despite these historical and political rifts, there is one thing that can and should unite all Americans, as it has united Senators Leahy and Lee and a unanimous Senate: The wisdom and importance of the constitutional changes wrought by the Civil War and Reconstruction.
In the black community, we often celebrate those who are Afrocentric as long as they don't look "too African." The funny thing about the hashtag #unconventionalblackbeauty is that most photos were pretty conventional. But partnering these pictures with the word "beauty" has made them unconventional.
My cop friends tell me that in addition to institutional biases that can't be minimized, training is often antiquated and premised on the days of being "tough on crime," once the only approach to policing. Assuming my officer friends are correct, we can expect more incidents like Charlena Cooks', and that things will get worse before they get better.
So, I was reading a Facebook posting by one singer who happened to comment on how he customarily looks, from the stage to the audience, for other Black faces. This struck me because it is an added dimension to the singer experience that I never thought about, which led me to start a very frank discussion with quite a few singers.
Without absolving or equivocating on America's hypocrisy on matters of race, racism and abuse of civil rights, it is ironic and equally hypocritical that Africans, who have little compunction about hacking one another to death because of differences, physical or perceived, are some of the loudest decriers of racism and bigotry in America.
Sgt. Henry Johnson and Sgt. William Shemin are being awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama at a White House ceremony for their heroics in World War I. Not surprisingly, a fair bit of information about both soldiers can be found online, and while personal details about Sgt. Shemin are mostly accurate, Sgt. Johnson's are frequently distorted.