The perso-professional website of Maurice E Dolberry, an educator, public scholar, and consultant.

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Bill Cosby: Philanthropist and (Alleged) Philanderer

The arrest of Dr. Cosby helps us disabuse ourselves of the hope that plying White supremacist ideas about Black folks through a Black Nationalist caste system will somehow make even the most “successful” amongst us immune from those very ideas.  At the same time, Dr. Cosby was not arrested because he is Black and powerful.  He was arrested because he’s an alleged serial rapist.  And while it is true that our justice system is crippled by systemic racism, it is also true that our society is crippled by systemic chauvinism and misogyny that cause us to dismiss women and their right to govern their own bodies, as well as the veracity of their word in comparison to that of one powerful man.

I don’t like Bill Cosby’s brand of respectability politics and their focus on the Black middle and upper classes.  I’m also not happy that he has been arrested.  But I am happy that a group of women – one that is far too large – may get justice for what happened to them.

#HomelessAtHoward: The Harsh Truths behind the Con

The hashtag #HomelessAtHoward started a national debate amongst a lot of folks.  At the center were allegations made by a student at Howard University – my alma mater – that he had been unfairly evicted from his on-campus housing.  It has become a complex story with many facets and plot twists.

In this clip, Coach Be Moore moderates while Dr. Rhadi Ferguson and I debate the many issues within and surrounding this controversy.  As it usually happens when Rhadi and I get to arguing, the results are highly entertaining…

The Debate: #HomelessAtHoward and the Harsh Truths behind the Con

 

Ray Lewis Missed an Opportunity to Tackle an Important Issue… But I Don’t

RayRiots
In the wake of the protests against police brutality and the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis released a video meant to deter people who used the outcry as an opportunity to destroy property. The passion he brought to his Hall of Fame football career is there, but his rambling, out-of-touch commentary is missing almost every important historical aspect regarding why the protests and property destruction happened in the first place.

This is my take on what Ray was saying…

Maurice “Mo the Educator” Dolberry has taught grades 6 through 20, and has worked at both public and independent schools from Minnesota to Florida to Washington and other places in between. He is currently an adjunct college instructor while working on his PhD in multicultural education at the University of Washington.  Maurice has way too much time on his hands and a head full of pop culture references.  Game time!

Maurice “Mo the Educator” Dolberry ©2015

The Irony of a Nuisance: “Black Lives Matter” Protesters Stop Traffic on Dr. MLK, Jr. Day

A driver runs over "Black Lives Matter" protesters in Minneapolis

A driver runs over “Black Lives Matter” protesters in Minneapolis

Tomorrow in my class, we’ll spend part of the time discussing the irony of people who complain that protesters stopping traffic today are “in the way” and should “protest somewhere I don’t have to be bothered with it”.  Especially on a day which honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of our country’s most itinerant irritants.

But what if you were bothered by “it”?  What if “it” was such an important part of American life that you needed to stop traffic so people would pay attention?  Would Dr. King have stopped traffic to call attention to “it”?

If “it” is the same cause as Dr. King’s, then the answer is yes, whether you agree or not.

What may be a welcomed day away from work for some has a completely different meaning for others.  Dr. King and his message have regularly been appropriated and distorted.  It is also important to understand, that just as protesters today are a “bothersome nuisance” to many Americans, so was Dr. King and his message shortly before he was murdered.  The apathy and disdain shown – or not shown – for protesters who stop traffic today is similar to that which punctuated Dr. King’s time.  For most protesters, the fundamental respect for Black lives is an issue important enough to stop traffic for a few hours to draw attention.  The pessimist in me assumes that most Americans don’t agree with either premise: 1) the fundamental respect for Black lives nor 2) that it is more important than traffic.  As I have (rhetorically) questioned of my students, “If most Americans were morally and ethically opposed to the chattel enslavement of Black people, then how could it have continued unabated for a total of almost 300 years on this soil?”  I ask the same about general American support for the idea that Black lives do matter.

The media coverage I’ve seen today, I think, sums up the general American spirit: “Sure ‘Black lives matter’, but I need to drive my car on this road.  Right now.  That’s definitely more important.”  I’m betting that 200 years ago in 1815, most Americans would have responded in a similar fashion about enslaving Black lives.

Maybe the message tomorrow shouldn’t be “irony” after all.  Maybe it’s “continuity”.

For my Racist and my White Supremacist Friends: Knot Tying

It’s always interesting to watch my friends and acquaintances who are racist and/or White supremacists (and I do have friends who are one or both), try to discuss the disproportionate rates of crime, poverty, and education amongst Black Americans, without resorting to racist and White supremacist notions of Blackness. They will tie themselves in knots trying to explain, for example, why the rate of Black incarceration has skyrocketed since 1970, while the rate of White incarceration has stayed about the same, without declaring that there is something inherently wrong with Black people that makes them criminals. Or more makes them susceptible to criminal enterprise. Or more likely to be caught. Or more likely to commit crimes police are looking for. You know… the idea that Black people are just more violent and dangerous. And that it’s their skin color that makes them that way. Except… but… it’s social, and not genetic. Even though these level of incarceration and crime only happen amongst Black people.  And racism doesn’t actually exist.

The painful result of a fallacious circular argument about race and racism

The painful result of a fallacious circular argument about race and racism

Ouch.  I’m here for y’all, though. I don’t get tired of explaining things over and over again, because it’s what I do by choice and by profession. When you’re ready to understand what systemic and systematic racism are, I got you.  I’ll help you out.

Special shoutout to those of you who think I’m only talking about White people.  I got y’all too.

Darren Wilson of Ferguson PD

Darren Wilson is Not Indicted: White Supremacy Wins

I don’t know whether Darren Wilson is a racist.  Or a White supremacist.  It doesn’t matter.  The fact that he will never face a trial by jury for killing Michael Brown is a victory for White supremacy all the same.

Michael-Brown

Michael Brown, killed by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014

White supremacy is an ideology.  It is based upon the belief that White culture and “Whiteness” are superior to other cultures and races of people.  It also includes the idea that the opposite of Whiteness is “Blackness”, which positions Black culture and Black people as inferior to all others.  One important White supremacist notion is that Black people are inherently and unavoidably dangerous.  Large Black men like 6’ 4” 292lb. Michael Brown are assumed to be an imminent threat to everyone around him.  Whether he was a threat to Darren Wilson on August 9th, 2014 is completely irrelevant.  Because our country operates on a White supremacist foundation, its justice system, and the majority of its people will be convinced that Brown deserved to be shot and killed.  Michael Brown’s size and ultimately his Blackness imbued him with superhuman strength and a superhuman criminality, weapons allegedly far more dangerous than the gun Darren Wilson carried.

It was 157 years ago when the Supreme Court of the United States declared that:

“In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument…They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”

Dred Scott, a troublesome"property"

Dred Scott, a troublesome”property”

Those were the words of Chief Justice Roger Taney in the wake of the Dred Scott case (Scott v Sandford).  He declared unequivocally that our country never intended for Black people to be considered human beings—much less citizens—while on American soil.  Dred Scott, a Black man from Missouri, was relegated to the status of “property”; not a human, but a “slave”.  And for his benefit.  Today, a Black man form Missouri was relegated to the status of “thug”; not a human, but a “nigger”.  Whether they called him one or not, the justice system treated him like one.  That’s far worse.

Philadelphia Phillies, manager, Ben Chapman, dugout

Ben Chapman yelled an almost endless string of racial slurs at Jackie Robinson a manager of the Philadelphia Phillies

A cornerstone of racism in the United States is the use of White supremacy to systematically and systemically enforce White cultural supremacy and Black inferiority.  Conversely, we’re consistently taught that a “racist” is a person who uses one of seven or eight naughty words to describe people’s race.  I couldn’t care less.  I’ve often told people that you could put Ben Chapman outside of my apartment and have him call me a nigger to and from my car, while I’m getting my mail, and while I grill my food.  It would be annoying as hell, but I would trade dealing with that “racism” for fixing the real racism that causes the schools in my southern Seattle community to mis-educate the Black, Brown, and Yellow kids they overwhelmingly enroll, or that causes the disproportionate unemployment that affects minorities in my community.  That racism is real.  It’s a problem.  Name-calling is not.

Racism is the reason why Michael Brown’s criminality went on trial instead of Darren Wilson’s.  And the grand jury’s failure to even put Wilson on trial is the latest in a long line of events reminding us that Black lives are forfeit in the face of White supremacy in our justice system.  I know many try to argue that justice isn’t biased against colors of skin, but is biased towards green.  The implication is that the remedy for a corrupt justice system is to buy your own slice of the iniquity.  I’m not into finding solutions that don’t answer fundamental problems, so that’s a non-starter.

While Robert McCulloch was telling the world about the victory for White supremacy in Missouri, I was at work tutoring.  I was helping college students in a sociology class learn how racism, classism, and chauvinism undermine equity and justice in our society.  A Black man teaching a group of young White men that part of responsible citizenship is ensuring fair treatment and opportunity for everyone—especially those who are currently impugned by systems designed to relegate them to less-than-human status.

White supremacy and racism continue to rot the very core of our country.   But little by little, those of us fighting for social justice are finding ways to cure the infestation.  It is one way we can do our part to get justice for Michael Brown, when our justice system will not.

 

 

Ooh Kill ‘Em!: Black Male Mentoring and Fictive Kinship

Terio

I love the South.  I love country folks.  I love country Black folks from the South.  I have two of them for parents.  And if you have them southern roots (pronounced “ruhtz”) like I do, you probably have more “play cousins” than you can count.

“Play cousins?”

For those of you without it, I’ll give you some cultural capital in context.  Stick with me, because I’m about to engage in come circuitous storytelling:

I’ve been outside the country for the latter part of the last few months, so I missed a rack of happenings in American popular culture.  Amongst the movies, new songs, and references I noticed when I got back was this “Ooh kill em”, often used in hashtags.  A quick internet search had me landing on this gem:

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How Detroit Went Broke, According to the Detroit Free Press

Detroit's mayors since 1950

         Detroit’s mayors since 1950

The Detroit Free Press posted an excellent piece on why Detroit declared bankruptcy.  It’s long as hell but well-written, well-researched, and as much as anyone can, tells in simple terms what is a complex set of issues.  No one person or entity is wholly exonerated or held wholly responsible, but all are analyzed for their roles in helping to fight against and/or causing Detroit’s downfall.  Some unions are taken to task – and as a pro-union guy, I’m sensitive to those things – but not unfairly so.  Ultimately, this is an excellent example of public scholarship, and the type of research I do.

(And I like how they try to end once and for all the scapegoating of Coleman Young for Detroit’s decline!)

I’m interested to know what you all think:

Click here for the original article

A School is Always Teaching: What Deborah Brown Community School Taught One Little Black Girl

tiana-parker-crying

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is the news story about 7-year-old Tiana Parker.  She’s a former student at Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Deborah Brown Community School, whose father ultimately pulled her out after being repeatedly told by the school to change his daughter’s hairstyle.  Tiana’s dreadlocked hair was in violation of the school’s dress code which clearly states, “Hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” (see page 13).

That’s the basic story, but this goes so much deeper.

This isn’t a simply a question of where Tiana Parker should go to school; thankfully she’s got the privilege of having an involved parent who has taken her out of DBCS.  This debacle actually invokes larger questions of what we’re teaching children about their ethnicity and how to combat respectability politics.

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