COMMUNITY VOICES | Nelson Mandela, Israel, and me

When I was growing up, my mother instilled a very strong sense in me of right and wrong. The morals she imparted were firmly rooted in the history of the Jewish people and our persecution.  She taught me about the pogroms in Russia,about the harsh working conditions Jews had to endure in sweatshops in America, and the discrimination Jews faced. She also taught me about the involvement of Jews in the civil rights movement and how Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman who gave their lives alongside James Chaney. And of course she taught me about the Holocaust, of the heroic ways that Jews fought back, and of the horrific ways in which they died. The lessons I learned were clear.  We must stand up for justice.  Discrimination and prejudice were wrong.   All people were equal and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Continue Reading

BOOKS | Firebrand author writes of being “Incognegro” in South Africa, America

Frank B. Wilderson, III is hyped as a single-handed second coming of the Harlem Renaissance, the best since Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Chester Himes and such. For once, the drum-beaters got it right. Wilderson’s firebrand tour de force, Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid (South End Press, $18), wholly compels; the hard truth is written in a fluidly articulate hand to deliver a strong voice. Wilderson, who grew up in Minneapolis, earned the Loft-McKnight Award for Best Prose and the Maya Angelou Award for Best Fiction portraying the Black experience in America. Earlier this month, Incognegro walked off with the American Book Award. Continue Reading

Tutu’s “moral equivalencies”

Many of those who heard or saw Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the last few days may have recalled that in the October 5, 2007 letter to his students, faculty and staff, University of St. Thomas President Dennis Dease said in part:
The Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases.Last spring, a representative of our Justice and Peace Studies program advised my office of an opportunity to invite Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak at St. Thomas during the PeaceJam conference. I discussed the matter with my staff and decided not to take advantage of this opportunity. Continue Reading