Tag Archives: racism

All Must Love the Human Form

In “The Divine Image,” Blake gives us a poem for our time, a call to pray for mercy, pity, peace, and love and to recognize the human form in diversity. In “The Human Abstract” he adds that prayer is not enough. It must be accompanied by human justice.

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How Trump’s White Appeal Degrades

In his novel “Snow,” Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk captures what it is like for Turks to see themselves through the eyes of Germans. In Trump’s election, my students of color saw themselves through the eyes of white America and didn’t like what they saw.

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Toni Morrison: White Panic Led to Trump

As Toni Morrison sees it, William Faulkner’s observations about white panic go a long way toward explaining Trump’s victory.

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Entering a Brave New Trumpist World

In which I reflect upon my students’ shock upon Donald Trump’s victory. Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” and Flannery O’Connor’s “All That Rises Must Converge” figure into the discussion.

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Lit Opens Minds to Suffering of the Other

Philosopher Martha Nussbaum argues that literature is essential for creating good citizens in a diverse society, turning to Sophocles’s “Philoctetes” and Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” to make her point.

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We Must Revisit Slavery To Find Healing

After attending some remarkable reconciliation events dealing with America’s history of slavery, I now have a better understanding of Octavia Butler’s time travel novel about slavery–and about why the protagonist doesn’t escape back to the present unharmed.

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Poetry Turns Prisoner’s Life Around

Reginald Dwayne Betts’s life was turned around when he encounter an anthology of African American poetry in prison. Today he is a graduate of Yale Law School and an accomplished poet in his own right. I share a poem written about Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old shot by Cleveland police.

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Trump as a Haruki Murakami Villain

Donald Trump has an uncanny resemblance to the villain Noboru Wataya in Haruki Murakami’s masterful novel “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” (1998). Both have a similar hollowness and both have the ability to separate people from the higher instincts and put them in thrall to their lower ones.

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Robinson Ran Against Walls, Never Broke

A Ken Burns documentary on Jackie Robinson gives me an excuse to run this short, powerful Lucille Clifton poem honoring the player who broke baseball’s color line.

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Lit for Handling a College’s Race Problems

After a series of arson fires and racist incidents, I turned to works in each of my courses to address the situation. In Intro to Lit, Lucille Clifton’s poetry; in Early British Literature survey, Aphra Behn’s “Oroonoko”; in British Fantasy, “Perdido Street Station.”

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Lucille Clifton’s Song of Myself

Lucille Clifton’s Whitmanesque “won’t you come celebrate with me” will inspire anyone who has gone through hard times.

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Black Students Find Strength thru Clifton

Our college last night held a celebration of the poetry of Lucille Clifton, who taught for 16 years here. A particularly powerful moment occurred when two African American students read Clifton poems and explained how they drew strength from them.

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The Wife of Bath & U.S. Race Wars

A racial flair-up at our college has given me an opportunity to stress the relevance of the Wife of Bath’s prologue and tale. Like our African American students, she too feels disrespected. One has to dig beneath her seeming confidence to realize how vulnerable she feels, however.

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Black in a White World

Clint Smith’s poem captures what it can feel like to be the only black student in an otherwise all-white class.

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Harper Lee’s Book Became Less Honest

“Gp Set a Watchman” is not as polished a book as “To Kill a Mockingbird” but it is more ambitious and more honest. Something important got lost in the editing process.

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Reading Poems to Protest Donald Trump

A student attending a Donald Trump rally staged a silent protest by reading the poetry of Claudia Rankine. The collection of poems could not have been better chosen.

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Children Lit’s Changing Racial Landscape

My mixed race granddaughters have children’s books with protagonists of color. It’s a far cry from the Dick-Jane-and-Sally books of my childhood and of the reality described by Toni Morrison’s “Bluest Eye.”

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Obama’s Eulogy & Beloved’s Baby Suggs

Commentator Melissa Harris-Perry quoted from “Beloved” following Obama’s Charleston eulogy. The passage she chose helps explain the power of the speech.

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Milton’s Satan Invades Charleston

Once again, light has attracted darkness in America with the Charleston church killings. John Milton describes how this dynamic works in “Paradise Lost” and Leslie Marmon Silko does so as well in “Ceremony.”

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The Color Purple and a Texas Pool Party

The out-of-control police officer at an African American pool party brings to mind a scene from “The Color Purple.” We’ve made progress, however, since the days in which the novel is set.

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Protesting Baltimore’s Racial Divide

The racial divide we are currently seeing in Baltimore was noted by Countee Cullen in 1925.

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How to View Prejudice in the Classics

How to handle instances of prejudice in the classics? Let the values battles fly.

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O’Connor’s Christianity and Racism

“Artificial Nigger” can be read two ways–either as a story of sin and redemption or as a story of Whites finding unity by scapegoating Blacks. A definitive interpretation may depend on readers’ reactions.

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Top Post of 2014: Black Lives Matter

I repost a Toni Morrison essay on the importance of black men asserting their worth.

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The Race Projection behind the Killings

Projection helps explain many of the killings of unarmed young black men. Ralph Ellison is an expert on how projection works.

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Benito Cereno on War, Racism

A story of two students who found themselves using “Benito Cereno” to sort through two of the biggest issues that Americans face.

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Black Students Examine Uncle Tom

Two African American male students find continued worth in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

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Race Disagreements amongst Friends

The intricacies of the debate between Chait and Coates on the culture of poverty can be sorted out by applying Aphra Behn’s “Oroonoko.”

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#CancelColbert, #CancelMarkTwain

Carl Rosin, a high school teacher I admire tremendously, shares below how he will be using a recent public dust-up about a Stephen Colbert tweet to help his students understand the power and danger of satire, especially as it applies to Huckleberry Finn. I love the tweet that Carl imagines could have emerged out of Huck […]

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Duck Dynasty Patriarch as Pap Finn

Patriarch Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” shares certain characteristics with Pap Finn.

Posted in Twain (Mark) | Also tagged , , , | 6 Comments

GOP Whites Splitting? Huck Finn Says No

If “Huck Finn” has predictive value, the class tensions within today’s GOP will be papered over by racism.

Posted in Twain (Mark) | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

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