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Featured Selections

More selections on race

July 17, 2020

We’ve gathered additional selections about race from The Sun’s archive. They are all freely available for anyone to read and share. For previous selections, click here.

The Run-On Sentence

Eddie Ellis On Life After Prison

“To change public policy, we also have to change people’s thinking, and to change their thinking, we have to change the language they use. . . . When you say ‘convict,’ a negative image invariably springs into people’s minds. If you use only such fraught terms as ‘criminal’ or ‘felon’ or ‘offender’ or ‘inmate,’ you are suggesting that these are not human beings capable of being redeemed. Words matter. . . .

By changing the language, you change the conversation.”

 

Bang, Bang, In A Boy Voice

 

“My nine-year-old mind was filled with questions. Why did white men want us dead, but not white women? And why us? What had we done to them? And why four hundred years? Had we been friends four hundred and one years ago? One Sunday night my stepfather and I were watching a Giants-Redskins game, and during a commercial I asked him how what one man had done was the fault of all white people. ‘As a whole, they can’t be trusted,’ he told me. His tone was matter-of-fact, and his voice seemed to come from somewhere else. What I really wanted was for him to tell me why men shoot boys, and why boys rob men on trains, and what it is about skin color that makes people so angry. . . .

Then we hit 81st Street, and I realized the train was standing-room-only, packed with what seemed like all the white people in the galaxy. The bodies now had faces, bright as bulbs. I couldn’t distinguish which of those white faces belonged to a potential killer and which didn’t. They weren’t clearly marked as evil, like the faces of the bad guys in my fantasies.”

 

Not So Black And White

Dorothy Roberts On The Myth Of Race

“Everyone should understand the reason we have mass incarceration of black men and women isn’t because most of them are violent and dangerous. We don’t have a huge foster-care population because so many black parents are monsters. Researchers are too often trying to figure out how to ‘fix’ black people. My mantra is ‘There is nothing wrong with black people.’ What’s wrong is structural racism. The systems in place ruin black people’s lives and restrict their opportunities to participate equally in society. . . .

As a political invention, race continues to determine power arrangements and is not going to just go away. We have to dismantle racist institutions to affirm our common humanity. And to do that, we need to understand how the concept of race really functions.”

 

To Free Ourselves, We Must Feed Ourselves

Leah Penniman On Bringing People Of Color Back To The Land

“The work of Soul Fire is about reaching back over those four hundred years of oppression and rediscovering our noble and dignified heritage of belonging to the land. We’re reviving that ancestral wisdom, defining a relationship to the land based not on the ways we’ve been harmed, but on the ways that our ancestors achieved dignity and sustainability.”

 

Father Figure

 

The featured images are from Lee’s award-winning project Father Figure: Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood. From 2011 to 2015, Lee photographed black fathers and their families, immersing himself in their daily lives. By focusing on intimate moments of everyday life, Lee interrogates the stereotype of absent black fathers.

The project was motivated by his personal journey of identity formation and cultural belonging. Lee, who is now in his fifties, had been raised in Germany by Korean parents. In his thirties he found out his biological father was not the man who’d raised him, but a black American. He had a fraught relationship with his Korean father and though he never met his biological father, Lee was comforted by spending time with the men and children in his photographs.

 

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