Welcome to 2016

Greetings, 2016 bloggueurs! You’ll find that the website is changing a bit this semester. All posts should be made on the front page. Course-specific pages will now be dedicated to class announcements, syllabi, and other materials that won’t merit commentary. Instead, look at the articles and conundrums that I’ll post here weekly, and throw in your two cents. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope, but don’t stoop to ad hominem, either. Be respectful to your peers, even when—especially when—you disagree with them.

I am optimistic that this semester’s entries will be much more engaged than those of past semesters. I will do my best to find issues that you must address as citizens and thinkers in our nascent twenty-first century. I’m enough of a romantic to hope that our conversations will help us make connections between what we read and the world around us; enough of a realist to anticipate that there will be the gasp of hurt feelings and the effervescent joy of rhetorical victories, however slight; enough of a teacher to believe that all of this will do the participants some good.

I must also tell you that I am intensely interested in the issue of race, specifically the issue of race in Mississippi. To paraphrase Faulkner, if you want to understand the world, you have to understand a place like Mississippi. Of course, you can’t understand Mississippi without examining the shibboleths of race. Unlike people in other parts of the country, I don’t think many of us ever believed that we had arrived safely in a post-racial society where race meant nothing. I’m curious: should we hold the color-blind society up as the ideal? This seemed to be the ethos of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. swayed hearts and minds of all races when he proclaimed that he looked forward to a day when all Americans would be “judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Yet in 2016, claiming color blindness offends many because it insinuates that past struggles are unimportant, and because race forms an integral part of identity.

Other than cautiously, how should we proceed? There are so many extremists regarding race and identity that it is difficult to find a broad, truthful middle way. Look at the ranchers’ standoff in Oregon, or at the motivations for the Charleston, SC church shooting last year. Closer to home, look at the things a Jackson City Councilman has to say.

Better still, look at Langston Hughes, who may just give us the clearest insight on the issue in terms everyone can understand.

And tell me what you think.

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One Response to Welcome to 2016

  1. Greg says:

    The shooting in Charleston,SC just proves that racism runs deeper throughout the South than many many people are willing to admit. The shooting in South Carolina was not a public statement for some political, religious, or social purpose whatsoever. It was simply a decision made by a man, who simply did not like black people, and found it necessary to take the lives of young and old African Americans.The saddest part about this is how the situation was dealt with, the police as well as other legal officials conducted the case as if their was no greater purpose behind it. In my opinion, it was completely a hate crime, no if ands or buts about it. His sole purpose was to make a statement to the black people in particularly,and ultimately change the way of thinking of the millions of African Americans who know now of the event. This crime was not a one day thing, this crime spurred the change in the way people perceive the church. The church was always thought of as a place where people could feel the safest. Like back during the Civil Rights Era, many blacks would migrate to the churches for safety, for they thought it was very safe place to be, even after the bombing of several churches black people still continued to be a safe haven for blacks.Events like this in particular turn the tables, and allow people to realize that their is no safety from hate nor is their safety from death. America has a whole lot of work to do, if it plans to be the “real salad bowl” it claims to be, because right now its like a salad bowl that is split into sections, which defeats the purpose of being called a salad bowl in the first place! I’ve heard the quote “United we stand, divided we fall” many times, and I do not believe without a shout of a doubt that the American people truly grasp the true meaning behind this message.

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