It was 25 minutes before our restaurant was scheduled to open. and I noticed three casually dressed African American young men enter the patio. One peered through the front window, saw that we weren’t yet open and joined the others on the patio. They remained there talking and laughing loudly until we opened.
No big deal. Nothing unusual.
Leelee Jackson and Geoffrey Stone are hardly household names in diversity circles. But in 2019, my interactions with Jackson, a talented young playwright, and Stone, a passionate defender of free speech, helped illuminate the challenging complexities of diversity and expression.
As a fellow of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, I have been examining the myriad tensions created when two laudable principles collide: the defense of robust speech and the effort to create greater inclusivity. This intersection has generated considerable controversy, including among diversity advocates.
It’s bad enough that blacks are already more likely than whites to die from HIV/AIDS. But a drug company’s scheme to put profits ahead of lives only compounds the anguish of targeted communities and amplifies cries for justice.
It’s an absolute outrage. We believe pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences knew its popular and hugely profitable HIV/AIDS drugs were harmful but purposely delayed releasing safer versions. Company executives didn’t see patients as people — they saw them only as dollar signs. That is why I have joined with co-counsels at the Hilliard Martinez Gonzales and Morgan & Morgan law firms to file a federal lawsuit against Gilead.
In the early morning of October 16, 2018, I was awakened by the muffled voices of my parents who were scurrying around their home. I could hear them speaking but did not know what they were talking about. Besides, I was interested in getting a bit more sleep. At approximately 7:00am one of them appeared in the doorway. She told me what time it was and that we were evacuating. Initially I thought, is it that serious? Nevertheless, I immediately got out of bed and put on some jeans and tennis shoes, grabbed my Vera Bradley duffle and put a few toiletries into the matching cosmetics bag. I was visiting, so my bags were readily available. It took very little time and we were out the door and into the driving rain.
When I arrived at Chattanooga’s Second Missionary Baptist Church, A true Southern gentleman, Pastor Paul McDaniel, met me personally met at the door. Born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Pastor McDaniel has been part of the Southern landscape and its African American community for most of his life. After attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, he received a Masters of Divinity degree from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Rochester in New York. A Chattanooga resident since 1966, Rev. McDaniel stepped down from his post at the Second Missionary Baptist Church after almost 50 years of service. A larger-than-life figure in the community, I share our conversation in his honor.
DATELINE: Police questioned a black graduate student who fell asleep while studying in a dormitory common room.
I picked up a local newspaper and was confronted by this headline: “Harassment for ‘being black’ gains attention.”
My blood started to boil.
I took in a deep breath, cussed to myself, and slowly exhaled.
There’s not a day that goes by without more evidence of how tough it is for many African Americans to go about their daily activities – any activity it seems. We’ve gone from DWB (Driving While Black), to SWB (Shopping While Black), to BWB (Barbequing While Black), to SISWB (Sitting in Starbucks While Black), to SIADWB (Sleeping In A Dorm While Black). Insanity is too mild a word to describe this racial mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.
After the presents have been opened and our belly’s are put to rest,
On the day after Christmas, we pay tribute to the first fruits of the harvest.
Acknowledging the tradition followed by 18 million since 1966 from East to the West,
Understanding Kwanzaa’s guidelines is part of our growing culture quest.
Other than race (black) and gender (female), what else do April Ryan, Maxine Waters, Joy Ann Reid and Angela Rye have in common?
The answer? They’re smart as heck, forceful in expressing their politics and views, and more than able to defend themselves against disrespect. You see, while others (yes, men, this also includes many of you too) sit in silence these powerful women won’t hesitate to hit back despite the potential for being tagged “An Angry Black Woman.” (If you’re unfamiliar with these women Google them before reading further.)
Deborah: Sadly, I’m watching yet another evacuation of a Jewish center on TV. I know what it’s like to oversee an evacuation during a bomb threat. I was in charge of security at a Jewish agency in Chicago, was trained by the FBI in security after the Oklahoma City bombing, and oversaw the design for a secure Jewish Community Center in Chattanooga.