Blood Done Sign My Name
Celebrating Rather Than Understanding
"...We tend to want a very "redemptive" Civil Rights movement, stories of saints and crusades, in which unarmed truth and unconventional love inevitably prevail. The conventional narrative of Dr. King and the nonviolent Civil Rights movement is soothing, inspirational and politically acceptable, and has only the disadvantage of bearing no resemblance to what actually happened."
...Tim Tyson, Publisher's Weekly
, April 19, 2004, p56
Discussion on 9/29
Thoughts, issues, questions people wrote on notecards before we began the first discussion:
"Thinking of the period of the 1970s, the impact on children like Gerald Teel...
how racism affects them even today -- how they pass it on"
"The role of the church and the Catch-22 for white liberals"
"The effect on African Americans and the legacy for the future, including today"
"Seeing this through white eyes... what it means today (lessons learned)"
"We all have our stories"
"What can libraries do?"
"I would like to hear more about Tim Tyson and why he wrote this book"
"I never learned about this in public school -- especially not with this intensity"
"How many people fall into the a) don't know about this or b) deny its importance"
"The memoir/history format was very appealing and make it even more forceful than a standard textbook"
"Very scary book -- this wasn't that long ago and continues... and the sister killed in Milwaukee -- I thought, this doesn't happen in Wisconsin"
"I was struck by *the power of 1st person narrative *the blaming of the racism & the town's willingness to continue it"
"What are our own personal journeys -- have people talked to relatives about local race history? My grandmother talked about going to KKK meetings (in Iowa) when she was a young girl. 'It was a good place to meet boys,' she said."
"The whole discussion of sexuality -- black male sexuality -- as the crux of the 'problem'"
"I would like to discuss where we are today in this country in terms of integration and projections about where we might be headed"
"The violence -- the efficacy of violence -- and my antipathy for it.. but maybe it's necessary?"
Read this interview
of Tim Tyson in Madison's Isthmus
Letter from a Birmingham Jail
"The effect of King's words on my father was electric. He was already committed to racial equality, but Dr. King hit him with the conviction that he needed to do something. 'When I began to read his Letter from Birmingham Jail
, Daddy recounted, 'I wept while I was reading it and got down on my knees, because it was the best thing outside Scripture that I had ever found.'" (p. 69)
Read full text of the letter here
from The King Center
What Got You?
Here are a few of the things I'm grappling with:
"That's just how clueless local white authorities were -- they thought that black people might stop complaining if the town simply built enough basketball courts" (212).
Though the "white authorities" in the basketball court story seem almost a stereotype of blindness, I wonder what it is that I'm not seeing, and my fellow white people are not seeing, today. ...Katrina may have brought some of this out.
"This was the first sign for Mama that there existed a world on yonder side of the color line, where white eyes and ears could not readly penetrate and where black people did not necessarily accept white valuations of moral worth" (26).
Where is the color line today, in Madison, Wisconsin? Are we segregated? When do I make contact across the color line? When do others in my community? What was my first sign? What was yours?
Tyson talks at length about what he calls "the sexual obsessions of white supremacy." What do you think about this? I've been wondering about whether we are seeing traces of this in the headline stories about Paul Barrows. You?
So... what got you?
Habits That Block Conversation
gives a new way of looking at the dynamics of spoken conversation. If you're a practicing facilitator or part of a discussion group, it's definitely worth a read.
Test Yourself for Hidden Bias
Have you seen or experienced the Implicit Association Test?
The following is from Tolerance.org
, which has a nice page explaining the test, and a tutorial you can take afterwards to help you figure out what is going on inside your own mind.
Check it out here
From the site:
Recent scientific research has demonstrated that biases thought to be absent or extinguished remain as "mental residue" in most of us.
Studies show people can be consciously committed to egalitarianism, and deliberately work to behave without prejudice, yet still possess hidden negative prejudices or stereotypes.
So even though we believe we see and treat people as equals, hidden biases may still influence our perceptions and actions.
Psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington created "Project Implicit" to develop Hidden Bias Tests — called Implicit Association Tests, or IATs, in the academic world — to measure unconscious bias. ... MORE