Feb 29 2012

Know Good White People: Wrestling the term ‘White Pride’ Out of the Hands of the Klan

Jean Rankin was a wife and mother of thirteen children living in a modest home overlooking the Ohio river in what was the “free state” of Ohio. Through her window she could see a clear and gorgeous view of Kentucky, where thousands of enslaved African Americans lived under the cruel system of American chattel slavery.

For forty years, leading up to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, Jean and her husband John opened their home to offer food, lodging and directions further north to nearly 2000 fugitive slaves seeking freedom.

As a mother, and as an American woman who descended from enslaved Africans, I am awed and humbled by this family. When I think about putting my own freedom and my own children’s lives at risk to serve others, it is a frightening, daunting idea.

While researching this subject of whtie anti-racists in American history, I am finding hundreds of stories of courageous and inspiring people like the Rankins who have been left out of mainstream hero worship. I hope you will agree that it is time to remedy that omission. These are amazing American heroes our children should know about.

Know Good White People: Wrestling the term ‘White Pride’ Out of the Hands of the Klan is an homage to anti-racist white Americans whose lives embodied the ideals of “freedom and justice for all” that our forefathers prescribed at the birth of this nation. Why have they been excluded from our national memory? What has their absence done to our collective psyche in terms of race relations?

The idea for this project came, in part, from an article I read about a young girl named Lisa McClelland who tried to start a “Caucasian Club” at her high school. Long story short—for her own safety, she eventually had to change schools.

Prior to her exile to another campus, the 15-year-old insisted her proposed club would be “a positive organization dedicated to honoring diversity” and a place to learn more about what it means to be white.

Amid the firestorm of controversy Lisa sparked, a KKK representative welcomed her to join their group, and the local NAACP spokesman slammed her idea, calling it racist in name, if not intent. He said,

“When we use the word ‘white’ or ‘Caucasian,’ it has always been associated with racial bigotry. Using that term opens up old wounds…”

What message is sent to young people with the omission of white anti-racist heroes from our national history? White Americans will not (should not?) bother themselves with issues of racial justice?


Jan 10 2012

5 Ways Families Can Honor Dr. King & The Dream « Growing Up Global

5 Ways Families Can Honor Dr. King & The Dream « Growing Up Global.


May 17 2011

Did I Tell You the One About the Mexican…

A few years ago I attended a Power of Oneness Awards ceremony where actor Edward James Olmos was honored for his work to bring about the unity of the human family. In his acceptance speech that night (to an ethnically diverse, majority Euro-American crowd) he referred to “our common African mother…”

He wasn’t joking.

Olmos acknowledged his own mother (who was in the audience) and he explained how it really hurt her the first time she heard him refer to his people as “originally African.” He is a proud Mexican man who is not “trying to be Black,”  but knows that Mexico is an amalgamation of peoples, histories and cultures whose origin, ultimately, is the same African woman who gave birth to all of humanity. 

He told the audience he believes that embracing the true history of the human race is the key to the healing and progress of the world. He went on to say that people all over the world have been influenced (by pernicious ideas of White supremacy and social and political remnants of colonialism) to detest or distance themselves from Africa, and he revealed that his own Mexican mother had been raised to deny any relationship whatsoever to the African continent. He said she has since changed her resistance to that ideal, and embraces what she now believes to be true — that for any human being to deny a kinship with Africa is to deny him/herself.

Last year, the United Nations hosted a panel to discuss the television series Battlestar Galactica and its effective and creative focus on themes humanity faces today (child soldiers, religious conflict, genocide, terrorism, etc.). The panel was moderated by Whoopi Goldberg and featured Battlestar Galactica cast members Edward James Olmos (Admiral William Adama) and Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin), as well as Executive Producers Ronald D. Moore (of Star Trek fame) and David Eick.

Olmos had this to say at the event:

You have to stick around for the last ten seconds of the video clip for the following to make sense:

SO SAY WE ALL!!