A Memorial: For Trayvon (Reprinted from March 25, 2012


The only marker is often graffiti spray-painted on an obscure wall, a visual message whose meaning we all know. Local friends sometimes print a few t-shirts with a faded edge of the bloom of youth with “R.I.P.” underneath. Funeral directors have become adept at displaying the remains with knock-offs of Gucci hats shaped like ball caps. 

It’s a familiar rite to many in the black community; a place where too many youth die too soon. I have sat bewildered and worn down at viewings of children who I played with when their legs were engines of joy, moving them with physical freedom from place to place. It seemed odd that their legs would never move again, that they wouldn’t run to my arms if I called. It was odd that they were loved, dead, and still teens.

Their death is an absence that doesn’t have a way to communicate its emptiness, a loss that whirls steps beyond our grief. As time fades the death of any youth, it doesn’t end the pain. The fade ends up being a hole you step around or over, like a crack in the sidewalk nobody fixes.

Every so often, through the sheer force of our collective lives, something ties together the distended threads and we are seized by a time of national mourning; a time when one death symbolizes every death. 

In the weeping time, each of us must find a way to share the deeper meaning of his death beyond our grief and fear. His death is a territory we must invade and a battle we must win. For the meaning of death is hallowed if it brings peace.

The Sine Qua Non (of Race and Jobs)


(This post offers several racial views, one includes religion. It offers a look at the logic behind appeals to discrimination and race. /wr)

This appeal is a variation of the old bankruptcy trick: Fire sale, the store closes; it reopens next week. It differs from re-branding. It doesn’t emphasize the quality of ideas as re-branding would: instead, it incites fear as a call to action. After a run, it opens up another front, closing and folding its stock into a pyramid. They get the money. We get the damaged, left over, out of warranty. out of style goods.

The bankrupt, sine qua non source of fear for Republicans is race. But its calculus changed in 2012. Race’s appeal as a negative flat lined.

Its negatives were effectively capped by changing attitudes, anecdotally confirmed by children of John McCain and John Boehner marrying spouses of color, with little media or party stir.

Yet analysts and reporters still rely on the old divisions, always defining “white” as the reference point. (Unless the discussion is about crime, joblessness, or safety net participation!)

The Republican appeal to race is broad and subtle, transparent and denied. It puts the border first as 12 million in-country undocumented workers are left in limbo. It puts austerity over jobs, declares that health care for the poor is too expensive and will crush the system. It endorses market rates for student loans, and succeeded in furloughing federal workers. The net Republican idea of job creation has been time off, and a 20% pay cut.

Under the cover of race, Republicans have abandoned a coordinated plan in order to micro-manage bits and legislative details that seek as their net effect the collapse of government–after it builds new border fences rather than replace collapsing bridges and offers subsidies to farmers while starving the hungry.

African man in European clothing. ca. 1530. Portrait, at halven personally, three-quarters to the left against a blue-green background. He is wearing a red beret (klapmuts) on which a pilgrim's insignia of Our Lady of Halle, in Brussels. The man has a mustache and beard, in two points is coasting to a stop. He is wearing a white shirt without a collar which a red wambuis and a short black jacket (tabbaard) and white, geitenleren gloves. He includes in his right hand the rich edited gevest of his sword. They are left in. For example: On a rich embroidered bag.

African man in European clothing. ca. 1530. Portrait, at halven personally, three-quarters to the left against a blue-green background. He is wearing a red beret (klapmuts) on which a pilgrim’s insignia of Our Lady of Halle, in Brussels. The man has a mustache and beard, in two points is coasting to a stop. He is wearing a white shirt without a collar which a red wambuis and a short black jacket (tabbaard) and white, geitenleren gloves. He includes in his right hand the rich edited gevest of his sword. They are left in. For example: On a rich embroidered bag.

Do No Harm To Women’s Rights


Truth as a body of knowledge always has paradoxes, always has exceptions and contradictions; horrible instances that challenge its progress. But the horrific acts of abortion that Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell performed were caught and punished under the same laws that many states now seek to overturn.

His acts are being used as an excuse to abandon truth: improved oversight is needed for reproductive rights, not more restrictive laws that use a doctor’s crimes to punish the women who were his desperate victims. Their stories are absent from the dialogue as states push women into choices that offer more of the same grave dangers.

Not a single recent bill, especially the ones in Texas or North Carolina, would grant and protect the choices and safety of Dr. Gosnell’s female victims. Instead, the bills restrict and remove their options and further limit their choices. Denying reproductive services doesn’t improve women’s health. It puts in place a political agenda of fear.

These bills break the oath of “first, do no harm.” They rewrite the highest document of our government, turning the ideals of free speech into self-serving principles.

We would do well to model and remember the simple but earnest promise of social responsibility, moral strength and civil commitment that is the foundation of our ideals.