-- Staleon Group Publications Offers Authors a Chance to Write the Vision and Make It Plain! Book reviews starting at $50! --

August 2014

As an author, the writing process can be both rewarding and exhausting. However, it’s only the beginning. Because of this one company, Staleon Group Publications, is now offering what they call "the highest quality set of services for authors worldwide".

For only $50, they are offering aspiring authors a detailed analysis of their writings. Since their inception in 2007, they have been working as a full service book publishing company assisting in cover design, book editing and author branding. Not only can they publish complete books, but they can also provide all the necessary tools for an author to have a personalized title ready for international publication.

They help their customers create personalized memoirs, develop family photo albums, and even put words to graphics for a comic book. According to the company, "There’s literally no reason not to explore your own creativity. Be the end all... to all creative obstacles when it comes to your craft. While writing remains one of the oldest forms of art, it is still accessible to anyone with imagination."

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Coming Soon! ~ Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence

Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence is set to be released early Summer 2014.

Skin privilege. When you’re black it seems the hardest thing to explain to whites. Even the most conscious or liberal whites sometimes don’t quite get it. Or as Langston Hughes once said, “A liberal is one who complains about segregated railroad cars but rides in the all white section.”

The killing of Trayvon Martin in February 2012 rang yet another alarm about the costs of that privilege. Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence tracks the case and explores why Trayvon’s name and George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict symbolized all the grieving, the injustice, the profiling and free passes based on white privilege and police power: the long list of Trayvons known and unknown.

With contributions from Robin D.G. Kelley, Rita Dove, Cornel West and Amy Goodman, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Alexander Cockburn, Etan Thomas, Tara Skurtu, bell hooks and Quassan Castro, June Jordan, Jesse Jackson, Tim Wise, Patricia Williams, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Vijay Prashad, Rodolfo Acuna, Jesmyn Ward and more, Killing Trayvons is an essential addition to the literature on race, violence and resistance.

For more information contact Jeffrey St. Clair via:

10 Guidelines on Writing a Great Press Release

By Simon M Kate

July 2014

Creative Content writing solutions is a wide field provided through various modes. Press Releases, being one of them. Here are a few rules to follow when writing a good Press Release.

Regardless of its contents, every press release is different. However, there are general rules that apply to all of them. Here are a few of them.

Be professional

Do not use funny fonts or pull some gimmicks that might come off as unprofessional. Always be formal and professional regardless of the type of release or target audience.

  Do not be Promotional

It is very tempting to want to promote your company through any material you send out. When it comes to a press release, this might be a terrible idea. If you find you cannot distance yourself enough from the business to write a piece that is not filled with promotional hype, it would be wise to hire a Content Writing Solutions company to do it for you.

Do not be boring

Try to be creative. Even the driest piece of writing has some room for creativity. Make your audience feel like they are listening from a human being on the other side.

Be brief

Do not overwhelm your audience with unnecessary details. Your sentences should be short, just enough to convey your message.

Know your recipient

Different editors have different interests in your Piece. A feature editor's needs might be different from those of a city desk editor. One might need all the juicy details while the other might only be interested in the where and what. So craft your Press release to suit your audience.

Use the proper tense

When preparing a serious news release like a stock split or contract signing, use the past tense. For example, ABC Corp has changed its name to ABC Inc. The company made this move.

When writing a soft news piece like a personal profile, use present tense. For example, Jade Smoot is one of the best Piano players. He is also blind. Thanks to the latest technologies from ABC Corp, Jade is able to...

Think visually

Apart from the word content, a press release is also judged by how it looks. You should use visual techniques to ensure that the journalist reads and publishes your press release. Use short sentences and paragraphs as opposed to long sentences and paragraphs which might appear time consuming.

Tell a story

How you craft your press release determines whether it makes it to the hard news or soft news section. Use a story to place it where you want. If you want the hard news section, use hard facts and details to tell your story but if your target is the soft news section, invite the readers on a journey. Start with the problem, then present the solution and then support your claim.

Do not tell lies.

You might be tempted to make up a few numbers here and alter some facts there to make your company look good. That is the most terrible idea. Journalists usually see right through the lies. The best case scenario, your release might find itself in the trash, worst case, you find yourself exposed.

Know your limits.

We can't all be good at everything. Some things are best left to specialists. Writing a good piece might be a herculean task for you. If you find that you cannot produce a good piece, don't cut corners, get the help of a professional Creative content writing Solutions com

We provide the best info about creative content writing solutions. For further details please visit the provided links.

2014 BOOKS

Top Book Stores Around the U.S.

Asian Book Store
 (617) 822-9996
1392 Dorchester Ave
Dorchester, MA 02122

Africa World Press Inc. & The Red Sea Press Inc.
41 West Ingham Avenue Suite B
Trenton, New Jersey08607
(609) 695-3200

Kaboom Books
3116 Houston Avenue
Houston Tx. 77009
Phone: 713.869.7600

123 Astronaut E S Onizuka #205
Los Angeles, CA

The Americanist (ABAA)
113 Creeks Edge
Chapel Hill , NC 27516

Mahogany Books
37 Western Hill Mall
Fairfield, AL 35064

Latin American Book Store
204 N Geneva St
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 273-2418

Frank's Hebrew Bookstore
14425 Cedar Road (Near Green)
South Euclid, Ohio 44121
Phone: 216-291-9847

Five Reasons You Should Write and Self-Publish Your Own Book

By Patrice Turner  

July 2014

From memoirs to family histories to self-help to how-to. From novels to graphic novels to Bible studies to commentaries. Books are all the rage right now. Everyone has a story to tell, a lesson to each or a philosophy to put forth. Kindle has made publishing easy and affordable for the masses. In fact over 30 percent of the nest sellers on Amazon are self-published titles.

Today self-publishing has become as popular, as welcome and as widely respected as traditional publishing. If you're considering writing and publishing a book, the following tips should help:

1. The Legacy Factor.

Making money is not the only reason to publish. Leaving a legacy and helping others are viable motives for publishing your work. Above all, your book is an expression of you. Family history, church history and business know how make for interesting, useful reading. Preserving history for future generations is a respectable reason to publish.

2. Keep all of your book profits.

Traditional publishers typically pay only 4-6% royalties. After all the work you put into publishing, you probably want more than a minuscule share of the profits. When you publish for yourself you keep 100% of the profits. Couple this with speaking engagements where you sell your books as a back of the room product and self-publishing can be very lucrative.

3. Maintain marketing & editing control.

Huge publishing houses dilute their marketing efforts among hundreds of authors. You can focus all your marketing efforts on your title(s). In addition, you maintain full creative control of your work. Self-publishing allows you to write in your speaking voice and make your point or view known.

4. Major publishers often receive hundreds of manuscripts a week.

The odds that they will look at your material aren't very high. Self-publishing lets you give your book the attention it deserves. You maintain the timeline and visibility of your book. Often a single book can be turned into a series with enough time and attention to devote to it. Think of the possibilities!

5. Self-publishing will save you valuable time.

It takes an average of 18 months before the first copy or a new book reaches the marketplace through traditional publishing efforts. Self-publishing is much faster than that. Turning a profit sooner means your writing and marketing efforts pay off much faster.

There are many and varied rewards for self-publishing. It's a challenging and fascinating journey than reaps satisfaction on personal, professional and financial levels.

Patrice Turner is the owner of Book Coach 101 where she helps Business Owners and Professional Speakers write a profitable, marketable book that brands and expertizes them. She also helps Every Day People tell their story. For more information and to receive a free registration to one of her Writers Cohorts please visit:


August 2014

Who are our unsung, unknown and uncrowned heroes/ sheroes who have had and are having a profound impact on our lives? The National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. (NABS) encourages our community members to tell family, neighborhood and historical stories, and to enter video narratives into the 2nd annual NABS National Storytelling Contest.

Recently during the most valuable player award ceremony sponsored by the MBA, Kevin Durant, basketball player for the Oklahoma Thunder accepted the award and gave what is being called, "the greatest acceptance speech of all time by an MVP."  He told the story about his mom and gave her all the credit.  "Mom, you're the real MVP."  Kevin Durant used a national platform and took advantage of a great opportunity to crown his mother and make her achievements known to the world.  

The NABS National Storytelling Contest: Lighting the Way: Stories of Our Heroes/ Sheroes "In our Homes, Community and in Our Nation provides a nationwide platform for others to tell stories of people who have lit the fire and is lighting the way for hope, strength, courage and empowerment in their lives.

The call is to create, record and share an original story inspired by the NABS" statement, entitled "The Need to Crown our Heroes/Sheroes."  The competition has a youth and an adult category. Winners in each category will receive a cash prize, along with an opportunity to perform, during the 32nd Annual National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference, to be held in Chicago, IL, November 12-16, 2014. This annual national event draws attendees from across the country.

NABS believes stories are transformative. When we share the courageous victories of our people we pass on invaluable lessons of faith, determination and endurance. We create and sustain a culture that freely speaks out for the rights of freedoms, justice and equality. This call to action is in keeping with the NABS mission to promote and perpetuate the art of Black Storytelling -- an art form, which embodies the history, heritage, and culture of African Americans.

NABS is calling all members of the community to encourage one another by making their heroes and sheroes known to the world by recalling and sharing original family stories and oral histories. Storytelling Contest deadline, September 21, 2014.

To read the official NABS statement in its entirety and review guidelines to enter the second annual National Storytelling Contest, as well as register to attend this year’s Festival, please visit

NABS is the authentic voice of Black Storytelling. The contest is sponsored by In FACT, Inc. and the NABS Past Presidents Advisory Council.

Recent Books That May Be of Interest to African American Scholars click: here

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education regularly publishes a list of new books that may be of interest to our readers. Here are the latest selections.   

Seven Excerpts from RACE: My Story & Humanity's Bottom Line

1.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964  (3,954 words, including the footnotes)

This excerpt was taken from the following sections of the book:

·       Page 1, Para 6, beginning with, “You see” to Page 10, end of Para 1, ending with “life of principle.”

·       Page 28, Para 2, beginning with, “In the midst” to the end of the para, ending with, “always wins

·       Page 38, Para 2, beginning with, “Segregation ended” to Page 39, end of Para 1, “was changing.”

   My Racial Memoir: 

   The Making of a Compassionate Activist[1]

Picture:  A little girl about ten, sitting on Santa’s lap, wearing Harry Potter glasses, a pencil behind her right ear, reading quite deliberately from a spiral notepad.

The words on the pad:  "Let’s see now, did I mention world peace?  And of course, cures for all the horrible diseases in the world, places for everyone to live, an end to all hatred, a spiritual awakening for everyone, a solution to pollution, and for me – maybe just a few little trinkets.  You know what I – You choose."

The Inscription:  "Lauren - Is this the perfect card for you or what?! Merry Christmas, Tom". 

I received that card from my dear friend, Tom Finn, many years ago.  I was in my early forties.

That little girl on the card was really an amazing reflection of me as an adolescent beginning at age thirteen. I did absolutely love science throughout my childhood, and the little insatiably curious scientist was still very much present, but beginning at age thirteen, Lauren, the little outraged activist began to emerge.  I was beginning to develop a very strong intellectual and emotional orientation toward integrity, peace, economic equality and social justice.

You see, the little girl who was so greatly loved by her mother and grandmother, that extremely curious little kid with the amazing inner life, the kid who had enough intellectual curiosity and imagination to wonder during a summer camp softball game about whether a whole other universe existed on a blade of grass, that kid who was a wonder-filled little ball of energy, when outside of the safe cocoon of her family, community and school, lived within a larger society as a second class citizen.  Throughout my elementary school years, until I was nearly eleven years old, I both saw the symbols and lived in the reality of segregation every day.  The "White Only" signs were everywhere.

Images of segregation:

I couldn't drink from the same water fountains white kids drank from.  I couldn't use the same restrooms they used.  In some places, there were three restrooms, "Men, Women and Colored". I couldn't eat with my parents at the same restaurants at which they ate with their parents.[2]    

I couldn't go to Pontchartrain Beach, (the city's formerly "White Only" amusement park, right on Lake Pontchartrain and Lakeshore Drive that was a five minute drive from our home in Pontchartrain Park),  which I really wanted to do, to ride what seemed to me to be the most amazing roller coaster in the world. [3]

When we went to “the Lakefront”[4] for  Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Labor Day family picnics, we, along with all of the city's other African-American residents,[5] had to try to find a spot between Seabrook and Franklin Avenue, which I would guess is perhaps a fifth to a quarter of the entire Lakefront Drive area. The entire remainder of the lakefront, from Franklin Avenue all the way out to its end at the Southern Yacht Club, was "White Only".  

Early one summer afternoon in the early 60's, my extended family, after arriving at Mandeville Louisiana's Fontainebleu  State Park for a family picnic, nearly left after about 45 minutes of riding around  looking for the park's Colored section.  Fortunately, we eventually did find it, and had our picnic.  But if looks could kill, those we received from the European American patrons in the white section would surely have made that our last day.  

I couldn't go into the Howard Johnson’s ice cream parlor on the corner of Congress Drive and Chef Menteur Highway that we passed every single day on the way home from school to have any of the twenty-eight flavors of ice cream that were so prominently and colorfully displayed on its front window.  When we went to the train station to get my great uncle Marshall who lived in New York City and came down by train to visit us every summer, we had to sit in the "Colored" section, which was perhaps one-third of the station.  The entire rest of Union Station was the "White Only" seating area.

My mother and I went grocery shopping at the Gentilly Schwegmann's supermarket every other Saturday, which was billed, at the time, as “The Largest Supermarket in the World”.  On the inside, it literally went on for as far as my eyes could see.  It was in terms of size, the 1960’s precursor to Costco.  When Mama and I stopped at its long, L-shaped lunch counter at the front of the store for a sandwich and soda, we weren't allowed to sit and eat our meal at the large front section with the nice counter stools.  We had to go around to the shorter side of the “L”, the much smaller side counter where there were no stools.  African American customers had to order lunch on that side and then either stand while eating or sit on the adjacent staircase.  My mother and I never did.  In retrospect, I believe that the indignity of doing so was probably simply far too much for my mother.  We bought our sandwich and soda and then left.  I'll never forget the visual of White People sitting comfortably at the front counter eating their lunch, and Black People at the small side counter eating while either standing or sitting on the nearby tile staircase – essentially, the floor.  There was sometimes so many people sitting on those steps that they'd be half-way up the entire staircase, always with a passageway on the right side as you looked up.  Walking along the passageway were White People who were going either upstairs to, or downstairs from the second floor business offices.

In the front section of the store were two water fountains, each on either side of a large, white round, floor-to-ceiling support column. Down one side, in big, black, capital letters, the word, "W-H-I-T-E" was painted.  Down the other, "C-O-L-O-R-E-D".  The "white fountain" was tall, silver, metal, and cold.  Ours was low, white, porcelain and hot.  Judging from the frost that accumulated so quickly on the mouthpiece, the "white fountain" had a strong steady stream of icy cold water.  Ours, a trickle of warm.

When we went to the Shrine Circus at the Municipal Auditorium, we had to sit so high up in the auditorium's Colored section, the “nosebleed” seats, that it was virtually impossible to see the action taking place on the stage floor below. It was the same segregated Municipal Auditorium in which Lemar Jr. and his friends attended concerts of their favorite groups. The Coasters, the Platters, and the Drifters were his three favorites.  He and his friends sat up in the segregated balcony high above all the white teens in the orchestra seats below them, as they all watched the African American performers on the stage. 

My parents couldn't go to listen to jazz in any of the French Quarter clubs, the same clubs in which black musicians were performing.

We watched the Mardi Gras parades on either Claiborne Avenue or Canal Street.  While Jim Crow laws didn't prohibit us from being there, it was known that St. Charles Avenue, the "uptown" section of New Orleans, was the area where the city's white residents watched the parades.  It was a kind of de facto segregation.

My mother absolutely loved musicals.  I grew up with the 33rpm soundtracks of the Broadway productions of among others, The Sound of Music, The King and I, My Fair Lady, and South Pacific.  I don't know whether any of them were performed in New Orleans at that time, but had they been, we wouldn't have been able to see them since they would most certainly have been performed at the Saenger Theatre or some other "White Only" venue.

In addition to Lemar Jr.'s Ray Charles, Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell and Sam Cooke albums, Lambert's Earth Wind and Fire, Miles Davis, Eddie Harris, Wes Montgomery, Dave Brubeck, Astraud Gilberto, and Chicago albums and the music I liked, the Supremes, Simon and Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder, the Mamas and the Papas, The Fifth Dimension, Dionne Warwick, the Beatles, the Shirelles and John Denver, I also grew up listening to the classical music which my mother loved.  I have in my garage to this day, in vinyl, her favorites - Dvorak's New World Symphony performed by the Vienna Tonkuenstler Symphony Orchestra;  Handel's Water Music and Royal Fireworks Suites performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy conducting;  Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony No 6 performed by the Vienna Philharmonic, Pierre Monteux conducting; Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy conducting; and her two absolute favorites, Finlandia and Swedish Rhapsody performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy conducting, and Handel's Messiah, performed by the New York Philharmonic with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Leonard Bernstein conducting. 

Mama loved classical music so much, that she wanted to instill a love for it in me.  Her plan – Go to Werleins Music Store on Canal Street to buy me a piano, (the only place of any reputation to buy a piano in the city), and send me to piano lessons.   After my lessons began, every time she went shopping, it seemed, she bought my yet another album of piano music. My favorites are The Exciting Pianos of Ferrante and Teicher, performed, of course, by them;  My Favorite Chopin, performed by Van Cliburn;  and my all time favorite, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, performed by Taylor Edwards with the Royal Festival Orchestra.  I don't know whether any of those orchestras ever performed in New Orleans at that time, but if they had, they too would have been performed at "White Only" theaters.   

My mother took me to see the Disney movies - Mary Poppins, 101 Dalmations, Lady and the Tramp, Chitty Bang Bang are the ones I remember.  She took me to every Sidney Poitier movie that came to the theater – Lilies of the Field, To Sir With Love, A Patch of Blue,  Guess Who’s Coming  to Dinner, and In the Heat of the Night.  To the biblical movies she loved - The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Ten Commandments and King of Kings.  And to the James Bond films she enjoyed - From Russia with Love, Goldfinger and Dr. No.  When she did, went to either one of the city’s five “Colored” movie theaters, the Claiborne, the Carver, the Gallo, the Famous and the Caffin, or to one of its segregated theaters, the Circle and the RKO Orpheum, where we sat upstairs in the “Colored” section. There were even separate concessions stands in the segregated theaters, one for white and one for colored.

In addition to the city’s colored and segregated movie theaters, there were also some that were “White Only”, of course, the Saenger Orleans  and the Joy, on Canal Street, the Fox, on Elysian Fields, the Tiger on Franklin Avenue and the  one closest to our house, the Gentilly Art, on Gentilly Boulevard.  

I saw no black salespeople or cashiers in department stores, drug stores, grocery stores, furniture stores – no stores.  I saw African Americans only sweeping and mopping their floors.  I saw only white men as news reporters, news anchors, meteorologists, sports casters, and politicians. 

Even the city's cemeteries were segregated, as they were all over the South.  The descendants of the same people, some of whom lived with European Americans in their plantation homes, waiting on them “hand and foot” from the moment they woke up in the morning until the moment they went to bed at night, the descendants of the same people who during slavery, cleaned their homes, cooked their food and cared for their children, the descendants of the same African American women who, during slavery, breastfed their children, the descendants of those same people were not good enough to have their remains buried in the same cemeteries as the descendants of their European American captors. [6]

During those, my childhood years, I was struck by the absolute unfairness of segregation.  The reality that was by far the hardest for me to comprehend is that we - my brothers, my parents and grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, all of whom I loved so much, all my friends and their parents to whom I looked up so much - because of how we looked, because of physical characteristics with which we were born, were being treated, every day of our lives, as second class citizens.  My thought was, "But White People were born white just like we were born brown. (Children think in colors, not in categories.) They didn't choose being born white and we didn't choose being born brown.  It's not fair." 

Years later, as an adult, I realized that in addition to being morally bankrupt, segregation was also tremendously financially unjust.  Throughout the entire time that we were forced to live as second class citizens in a segregated society, we paid not a single penny less for our goods and services, and not a cent less in taxes.  No "discrimination adjustment" was made for us.  Apparently, lawmakers didn't opine, "Well, since they're getting lesser treatment, we really should charge them less.  It may hurt us a bit financially, but it's well worth it to not have our children go to school with them, to not sit next to them at the movies or see them in our amusement parks, to not have to eat with them, use the bathroom with them, share water fountains with them, and sit next to them on the buses."  If any such discussions based on a fairness argument did occur among lawmakers, those who advocated for such a two-tiered economic structure, lost. The reality was that while being required by law to sit in only the back of the bus, we paid the exact same fare as white riders who rode in the front.  While standing and sitting on the stairs adjacent to the side section of Schwegmann's lunch counter, we paid the exact same price for our sandwiches and sodas as the white patrons who sat at the nice counter stools in the front.  While being consigned to the smaller section of Fontainebleau State Park with its inferior picnic area and inadequate restroom facilities, our parents paid the exact same state income taxes for the park’s maintenance as did white citizens. In all the stores in which we weren't allowed to try on clothes, hats and shoes, or to return them if they didn't fit, we paid the exact same price for and sales tax on that clothing.  My parents and all of the city’s other African American residents who were fortunate enough to be able to buy a home, paid the exact same real estate taxes on their homes as white home owners paid on theirs. Math has never been my strong suit, but one needn't be a math wiz to realize that it would have been a tremendous economic benefit to African American families and communities if, as an acknowledgement of the crippling discrimination under which we were forced to live, by law, (when we shopped, when we ate in restaurants, when we used public transportation, public restrooms, public parks and every other kind of public facility), we had been charged 33,  25, 20, 15 or even 10 percent less for goods and services and paid even 10 percent less in income and sales taxes.  It was a benefit that tragically, we were denied.  We paid the same for everything.  We paid……to be humiliated - publicly. [7]

In retrospect, I realize that the utter injustice of segregation, could very well have scarred me as a child.  But because my mother told me that segregation was wrong, that the people who believed in it were wrong in that belief, and that we were on the right side, the just side, the moral side of the issue, not only did segregation not affect my self-esteem, it actually provided me an emotional template on which I and everyone I knew and loved, were fighting a valiant battle of right against wrong, of justice against injustice. I felt good being on the "right" side, the side, I thought, of the people who were intelligent and mature, the side that was ultimately destined to win.  As a child, I was totally unaware that that very struggle of what I thought of as good against evil, was providing me with a very early backdrop against which I was already beginning to develop as a value, the goal of living a conscious, examined life of principle. [8]………..

In the midst of the tremendously racist society which was 1950’s and 60's New Orleans, our parents taught us that violence was not only immoral, it was also unproductive, (and thus a tremendous waste of precious time), because it was always and ultimately doomed to fail.  They taught us that it was non-violence that would change the world. They taught us that all people are created equal, and that we must never hate White People.  They taught us that there were many thousands of White Americans of conscience and integrity who, often putting their own personal safety at grave risk, both supported and actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement.  They taught us that we should not hate those who hated us, for they were simply unaware.  Our parents told us that in being blind to the image of God in which we were created, they were also blind to their own. They taught us that love is infinitely more powerful than hate and that it is love which in the final analysis, without fail, always wins…….

Segregation ended with President Johnson's signing of the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964, one month after I graduated from Moton.  My grandparents were in their 60’s, my parents, their early 40’s.  Lemar Jr. was 20, Lambert, 16 , I was ten and Lorna hadn’t quite turned two.[9]  We watched the news report of the signing of the Act on the nightly news.  I remember that night as if it were last night.  I had seen adults share a profound collective grief when President Kennedy was assassinated.  I had seen them share what as a child I experienced as very real collective fear during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but I had never seen them share a collective elation.  That is exactly what happened the day the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.

Following the news that night, the phone in my house rang "off the hook."  Gramzie, Uncle Ikee, my aunts Verlie and Johnnie, the neighbors and my other parents' friends, were all calling.  I wanted to know what was going on, why all of the adults were so happy.  I asked my mother what the law said and why the grown-ups were so excited.  "Well Laurie", she said to me, "You know the twenty-eight flavors of ice cream you've been wanting to try at Howard Johnson's?"  "Yeah" I said in great anticipation of what might be coming.  "Well", my mother continued, "This new law says that we can go there now.  We can go to the Howard Johnson's ice cream parlor now."  "And we can eat the twenty-eight flavors of ice cream?" I asked with even more anticipation.  "Well”, she said smiling, “We'll take them one at a time, but yes, we can go to Howard Johnson's, sit at the counter and have ice cream now.”   I responded with one word, "Wow."  My mother continued, "And now we can go to Pontchartrain Beach, and ride that big roller coaster you see all the time.”  She went on to explain that the law said that we could get a hamburger at Royal Castle if we wanted to, and eat at Morrison's Cafeteria if we wanted to, that my Girl Scout troop could go to City Park and ride the kids’ train around the park.  I'll never forget thinking in that moment, "This one law is doing all of that?!  That's a powerful law".  It was an evening I'll never forget. 

Within days, I also saw that at Schwegmann's supermarket, Mama and I no longer had to drink from the “colored” fountain. We could now drink from  the tall, cold, silver, metal fountain, the one on the side of the column on which the soon-to-be-gone letters, "W-H-I-T-E" were painted, from which icy cold water was dispensed. Within those same few days I also learned that my mother and I could now use the "Ladies Room", and that the third or "Colored" lavatory of the familiar three restroom lineup, "Men", "Women" and "Colored", would soon be gone.  The adults in my life could now go to a French Quarter club to listen to jazz.  African American families could now go to the Gentilly Maison Blanche restaurant for dinner.  It seemed to my ten year old consciousness that the entire world was changing.

2.  Voting Rights (1071 words including the footnote)

This excerpt was taken from the following section of the book:

·       Page 57, Para 3, beginning with, “I became” to Page 60, Line 4, ending with “life of principle.”

I became a young activist the following summer, the summer of 1969.  Mama was at that time, the Administrative Assistant to Mr. Clarence Barney, the Executive Director of the New Orleans Urban League.  As such, she assisted in the coordination of the League's summer voter registration drives, the objective of which, of course, was to get African-Americans registered to vote.  The program's "boots on the ground' were high school students under the direction of an Urban League staff member. That summer, it was Mrs. Oretha Haley. The students were essentially volunteers, receiving only a very small stipend for bus fair and lunch.   From the moment my mother told me about the program, I wanted in.  It was the summer before my senior year at Holy Angels.  I was fifteen.

The Urban League's voter registration drive that summer, was my very first experience doing grass roots "activist" work, and I enjoyed it immensely.   I knew how important it was to vote. I saw both my parents vote, without fail, in every election, national, state and local, and I knew that they took both voting and their Democratic politics very seriously.  Additionally, although it hadn't been a part of any history class curriculum in school, I had read on my own that African-American men had gained the right to vote in 1870 with the passage of the fifteenth amendment, but that women, no women, including white women, were allowed vote until 1920, a full fifty years after black men received the right. I learned that women's vote came about only in response to the suffrage movement, without which, women may not have gained the right to vote for another several decades.  I remember Dr. King speaking about how African-Americans' constitutional right to vote was being trampled on in many places in the South through the use of bogus and totally illegal poll taxes, literacy tests and Ku Klux Klan intimidation tactics.

When I began working on the Urban League's voter registration drive that summer of 1969, all of that history, as well my knowledge of what civil rights voter registration activists had gone through only a few years earlier, came vividly alive for me.  I thought about the fact that James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, all three in their early twenties, had actually been killed by the Klan for doing exactly what we were doing that summer -  helping African Americans register to vote. I found completely gratifying, the process of knocking on doors, talking to people about the importance of registering to vote, and on the spot, arranging a ride for them to the registration location, knowing that another volunteer was waiting for them there, ready to walk them through the process, at the end of which there would be another African-American who was registered to vote.[10]

The experience of working on the New Orleans Urban League's voter registration drive as a high school student that summer, was the beginning of what became my lifelong attempt to make the world a fairer, more just place that reflected what I deeply believed was a higher, Divinely-inspired human consciousness.  I desperately wanted two things.  First, I wanted fairness.  I wanted justice for people who had been discriminated against for so long.  I wanted us to be genuinely regarded and in every way treated, as the full human beings that we are with all of the accompanying dignity and equality thereby required.  I wanted all people to understand on a deep level, that we are all equal. Secondly, I wanted European-Americans to experience their lives from a place of far greater emotional maturity.  I wanted them to at least glimpse the unimaginable possibilities that existed for their lives, how they would behave and far more importantly, how they would feel in their hearts, were they capable of truly experiencing African Americans and all other People of Color as their sisters and brothers in the family of humanity. Essentially, I wanted for all of humanity, both the intellectual and the emotional freedom that I knew was possible for us if we truly understood and deeply felt that we are all equal.   I knew that I wanted to do something significant in my life to make that emotional freedom our reality…… 

3.  Unearned Privilege (1,406 words)

This excerpt was taken from the following section of the book:

·       Page 274, Para 1, beginning with, “An unearned privilege is a right” to Page 278, the url.

The Impact of Our Racial Past on Our Racial Present:  A Social Structure of Unearned Privilege for Some and Daily Indignities for Others

Unearned Privilege

An unearned privilege is a right, benefit or advantage that is bestowed upon an individual based solely upon his/her membership in a group, not upon anything that the individual has done to earn the right, benefit, or advantage. 

Two of the most significant unearned privileges of being European American in the United States, are:

a.     Not triggering an automatic fear response in others simply because one is white; and,

b.    Not triggering an automatic suspicion response in others, (e.g., being suspected of shoplifting and other socially aberrant behavior), simply because one is white.

Those two benefits bestow the simple but precious human right of individuality.  They allow one to live one’s life not as an Asian Person, or a Black Person, or a Brown Person or as any other color person.    They allow one to be seen, rather, as a “regular” person, as a human being, as the individual human being which s/he was born.  It is the tremendous privilege of being thought of, viewed as and responded to, as an individual.  It is the privilege, in most life circumstances, of being given the benefit of the doubt as opposed to being immediately suspect.  Living with the advantage of individuality, is an emotional universe apart from living without it.  It is entirely different from never knowing how you’re going to be responded to in every new situation in which you must interact both with the majority of people in society, as well as with the majority of people in positions of power in society, those with the power, among many other things, to offer or not offer you a job, to approve or not approve your home loan, or to admit or not admit your child to one of the best schools in your community.  The former feels like emotional freedom.  The latter, a kind of emotional prison, one from which it is impossible to escape.

[I know how dramatically different the two realities feel because:

1. I experience what it is like to be responded to neutrally and even pleasantly, nearly every day when I speak to strangers by phone who may be unaware that I am black; and

2.        Those telephone conversations are dramatically different from the in-person meetings which often follow, in which I’m often responded to, not negatively, but with surprise that I’m black.  The surprise is then immediately followed by what I refer to as the “Oh…Oh…Hi black person” nervous handshake and then an interpersonal dynamic which feels noticeably less relaxed than the preceding telephone conversation.  

I have said in many training sessions that being on the receiving end of the “Oh, hi black (or Latin, Asian, Indigenous) person” response provides one the opportunity to do consciousness or awareness work in that moment.  It is a growth opportunity for the other person.  What I have said to the person on the receiving end of the nervous behavior is the following:

Judging from the person’s nervous response to you, you think that you know at least some of what the person may think about you. But you know that what they think they see in you, is not you.  It is not who you are. And you also know that they don’t know that. Thus, as between the two of you, you are the more conscious person.  So if the dynamic is going to shift, you are the one who is going to have to shift it.  Now does that mean that you have to engage in a kind of, “But I am a good person.  You don’t have to be afraid of me. I don’t like that rap music that has all that foul language either.  I don’t play the race card.  I am intelligent…..” dance?  Definitely not.  There is absolutely no dignity in that.  That is not what I’m advocating.  What I am advocating, is that when you experience the nervous, “Oh…….I see.  Well now I’m a lot less comfortable with you” response, you maintain your dignity and just stay true to who you are as a person.  Try to not become frustrated or angry, and definitely don’t engage in an effort to disprove what you believe are the person’s stereotypes for that is no more than a 21st century step-’n-fetch it routine.  Just stay true to who you are and know that in time, that person will see who you really are.  If the other person is just an acquaintance, know that due to the temporary nature of your relationship, this may not be a learning opportunity for the other person, but in simply staying true to who you are, you are at the very least maintaining your dignity. 

The person to whom I give that advice often responds to it by saying something similar to, “Why should I always be the teacher, the consciousness raiser?  It’s exhausting to always have to put people at ease or prove that I’m a responsible person”.   I then respond in the following way, “You don’t always have to be the teacher.  You don’t have to always be the consciousness raiser.”   Whether or not you play that role is a choice.  It’s always your choice.  Sometimes, if you’ve just recently been in the same situation, it’s a totally legitimate choice to simply disengage from the situation gracefully.  In order to not burn out from the effects of the daily indignities, it is important that you choose your battles wisely.  You don’t have to fight every single one.  Just know that when you see the uncomfortable “Oh hi_____person” response, you are the more conscious person and thus you are the one with the ability to turn the dynamic into a learning opportunity for the other person when you choose to do so.]

Merely being responded  to neutrally, (if not pleasantly), in most social settings by the majority of people,  is a tremendous privilege which on the basis of race alone, European Americans most often do have and  Americans of Color most often do not.

[The 1991 ABC Primetime Live video, “True Colors”, demonstrates the dramatic difference in the way African Americans, specifically, are often responded to by some European Americans.

“True Colors”

The economic advantages that accompany unearned racial privilege have built a middle class for European Americans that, in proportion to their population, is enormously larger than the middle class that has developed in American communities of color.   As the preceding historical sketch illustrates, Americans of Color have been the targets of relentless, historic and systemic discrimination in both education and employment.  It is housing discrimination, however, that has perhaps contributed most to the disparity in wealth between Americans of Color and European Americans.[11]   The intentionally erected barriers that Americans of Color have historically faced when attempting to purchase a home in a desirable neighborhood, have made it impossible for hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions of us, to become homeowners in such neighborhoods.  Thus, we have generally been able to neither build and then use home equity to put our children through college, nor pass a home on to them.  Thus, while it is true that since the end of slavery, each succeeding generation of young Americans of Color has generally attained a higher level of education than preceding ones, financially speaking, each generation has essentially started off from scratch. The experience of a large proportion of European Americans, however, is very different.  Many have for generations, passed on ownership of either land and/or a home to their children, providing them an enormous economic advantage with which to begin adulthood.

In order for humanity to racially heal in the future, those who are the benefactors of both historic and contemporary racial privilege, must both be aware of and acknowledge that privilege.  Doing so does not nor can it make anyone guilty of racism.  It does, however, confer a very important responsibility to at the very least, not, collude in the American system of racial privilege, (to the extent that it is possible), and furthermore, if one is courageous enough, to actively work to dismantle it.

[Peggy McIntosh’s article on unearned racial privilege, “White Privilege, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, remains one of the seminal works on the issue of racial privilege.

Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

4.   Unconscious Bias (619 words total including the footnotes.)

This excerpt was taken from the following section of the book:

·       Page 352, Para 3, beginning with, “It is possible for people” to Page 354, Para 2, ending with, “ toward us.”.

It is possible for people to be prejudiced without being racist. It is possible, for example, upon initially meeting a Person of Color, before s/he has said one word, for one to have an unconscious pre-judgment about how the person is going to speak, or about his/her family background,  intelligence, education, religion, interests, taste in music, taste in food and level of education, among an entire host of other pre-judgments. 

Having those pre-judgments does not make one a racist. One can be prejudiced without ever once having used the “N” word or other racial epithet.  Prejudice is a state of mind, most often unconscious. It is the state of mind that causes one to clutch one’s purse just a little tighter when a Man of Color passes by.  It is the state of mind that causes employees in stores to profile Americans of Color.  It is the state of mind that causes an innocent seventeen year old kid returning home from a local convenience store with candy and tea, to be assumed to be a criminal and then shot and killed.

Today, it is primarily and most often not overt racism, but rather those very pre-judgments, in other words, it is unconscious bias, the unconscious bias that results in both low expectations and sweeping negative generalizations about People of Color, that regularly disadvantages us.

Specifically, those prejudices disadvantage us, time and time again, in educational, employment, and housing opportunities, in the criminal justice system, and in a host of other areas of life.  Additionally, today, it is most often prejudice, not overt racism, which continues the existence of structural and institutional racism.  Both are alive and well today, through the enormously powerful vehicle of prejudice.

The corollary of unconscious prejudice against Americans of Color, is in the subconscious minds of many European Americans, an unconscious preference for others of their own race, a preference that they unconsciously exercise in making decisions that have a significant impact on the educational, employment and housing opportunities of Americans of Color.

One of the most important things upon which our ability to make serious racial progress in the United States is largely dependent, is the willingness, (or unwillingness), of European Americans to acknowledge their personal racial prejudices and preferences and to make a serious commitment to mature beyond them.

    Americans of Color can also be enormously prejudiced with respect to other human variances, including skin color, race, gender identity/gender expression/sexual orientation and religion, among others.[12]  We must understand that when we are in our privileged, or our “up” identities, (i.e., whether we are able-bodied, or Christian, or heterosexual or in any other privileged group), we can be as “dumb up” as anyone else.[13]   Our history of oppression does not relieve us in any way of our responsibility to work on our prejudices.  We have the exact same responsibility to unlearn colorism, classism, prejudice against people with disabilities, heterosexism, homophobia, classism ageism and all of our other prejudices, as European Americans have to unlearn racism.

     [I would add, however, that in addition, we also have the responsibility of remaining gracious and poised and as Dr. King would say, even loving, in the face of those who are uncharitable and unloving toward us.] 

5.  The Daily Indignities (833 words)

This excerpt was taken from the following section of the book:

·       Page 280, Para 1, beginning with, “At times an indignity”, to Page 281, ending with, “time and time again.”

At times, an indignity comes in the form of being denied a simple acknowledgement that others, in the same instant, receive.  An experience that I had while walking into a supermarket with my two European American friends, Jack and Theresa, illustrates this specific indignity.  As the three of us began walking from the parking lot toward the entrance of the market, I noticed a young European American woman with a tablet and pen in hand standing just in front of the door.  I watched as she asked every person in front of me who passed by her, whether they were a registered voter.  She was clearly attempting to get signatures on a petition. I was in front of Theresa and Jack.  As I passed the young woman, I assumed that she was going to ask me the same question that she was asking of all the shoppers entering the store, so, with a smile, I looked at and prepared to respond to her.  She did not, however, make eye contact with me.  A second later, as Theresa and Jack passed her, she looked at and spoke to them, “Hi.  Are you guys registered voters in Multnomah County?”  In that moment, I was not, “looking for it”.  I wasn’t even expecting it.  It was a beautiful Spring day and I was enjoying my friends’ company. Then suddenly, out of the blue, right in that moment, coming out of nowhere, there it was, that all-too-familiar message that I had received all my life, the message that the person experiencing me was so uncomfortable with the prospect of interacting with me, that they simply ignored me. I made the decision, in that moment, to not bring it to the young woman’s attention.  I just didn’t have the emotional energy at the time.  It was a beautiful Oregon morning and I just didn’t want to deal with it.  Upon entering the store, however, I asked Jack and Theresa if they’d noticed what had just occurred.  Even though both are very conscious of racial dynamics, in that particular instance, neither had.  Upon bringing it to their attention, they decided to take a moment to very simply and quickly bring the incident to the young woman’s attention.  When they then walked outside the store and described to the woman in their very gentle way, what had just occurred, she seemed to be shocked, declaring several times, “Race had nothing to do with it.  I just didn’t see her.  I’m not racist.”  Theresa and Jack’s intention in bringing the incident to the young woman’s intention was not to embarrass her, guilt her or accuse her of being racist.[14]  Their intention, rather, was to simply use the episode as a learning opportunity, a chance to make her be perhaps just a little more self-aware in the hope that she will be more conscious in her future interactions with People of Color. In that moment, Theresa and Jack were my allies. They demonstrated then and there, what it means to live consciously with regard to race, as European Americans.  Doing nothing in such circumstances, simply allows the irrational, unfounded fear of People of Color to continue and to be repeated time and time again……..

A couple of months ago, a young male relative of mine, (whom I’ll call Lance), and his wife, spent the weekend with Barbara and I. Over the course of the weekend, the four of us visited a tiny local market and restaurant in a nearby town. The very pleasant, very warm, very welcoming restaurant employee engaged the four of us in an interesting conversation about the history of the establishment.  I don’t remember the context within which she made it, but at some point during the conversation, the employee gestured toward Lance and said, “Now this guy, I don’t know about him.  He looks kind of suspicious.”  I immediately responded with, “Hey, hey, hey, that “guy” is my nephew.”   I don’t know whether or not she was serious, but in that moment, Lance left and went outside.  He talked on his cell phone out there and never did come back inside.  I didn’t mention the incident after it was over because I didn’t want to put a damper on what was otherwise a very pleasant weekend. I don’t know whether or not Lance had just gotten a phone call, but in that moment, I was appalled.  It was just the latest example of how, as a Person of Color, race is a monster that’s always there that  can jump out and bite you any time, at any moment.  You’re not looking for it.  You’re not even thinking about it, and then all of a sudden, there it is.   It’s always there – potentially.  When I describe that reality to a European American friend, or colleague I don’t want them to tell me that I’m imagining it, that I’m playing the race card, or that I’m just overly sensitive.  I’d really love to never be met with that reaction again

6.  Personal Stories  (1,232 words including the footnotes)

This excerpt was taken from the following section of the book:

·       Page 98, Para 1, beginning with, “Two stories”, to Page 101, end of Para 2, ending with, “and open  heart.”

Two stories, both of which were shared in diversity sessions that I facilitated more than ten years ago, are particularly powerful for me.  One was told by a young African American man; the other, by a young European American woman.[15]   The young man worked in management for a large Florida-based supermarket chain.  During the afternoon of the first day of the workshop, he described a personal experience that had occurred at a gas station convenience store earlier that morning:

On my way to the training this morning, I stopped at a gas station convenience store to get a cup of coffee.  After pouring my coffee, I got in line to pay for it.  The guy in front of me was also black.  All of a sudden, for no reason that I could see, this guy started going off on the cashier, who was white.  I mean he was screaming at her, calling her names, everything.  I think maybe the guy was mentally ill.  He left, then I was next in line.  When I walked up to the counter, that lady looked like she saw a ghost.  I know what she was probably thinking.  She was probably thinking, "Oh God.  Here comes another one!"  I didn't even know that guy.  I didn't know him from Adam.  Now, if I had been a white guy in line behind another white guy that had just gone off on her, she probably would've looked at me and said something like, "What was his problem?!"  But as a black man, I  have no individuality.  That hurts like hell.

In my brief interaction with that young man, I experienced him as polite and soft spoken.  Absolutely nothing about him was threatening.[16]

The following was the story of the young woman, an employee of a large Federal agency in Denton, Texas:

When I was growing up, people used the "N" word all the time, they talked about Black People really negatively and had all the stereotypes. Then, once when I was in elementary school, we moved and for a little while right after the move, I had to go to a school that was mostly black.  I'll never forget the classrooms in the school.  They had no world globes.  They didn't have the clocks on the wall that teachers use to teach kids how to tell time.  The alphabets that were hung above the blackboard were hand made by the teachers.  There wasn't an abacus in my classroom.  We had no record players, no science table, no maps. We had no reading corner.  Other than the old textbooks, there weren't even any books in the classroom.  I remember, even as a kid, thinking that there was no way these kids could compete against white kids because they had nothing.  How could they compete?

While I was at the school, I made friends with a little black girl.  One day after school, I walked her home.  When we got to her house, I went in.  I noticed the floors.  They were beautiful, shiny hardwood.  There was a very nice piano in one corner of the living room.  The furniture, the curtains, everything looked perfect.  My little friend’s mother came out, and she was dressed so nice and her hair looked so pretty.  She introduced herself, made iced tea for us and then played the piano for us.

After that, whenever I would hear one of my relatives, their friends or one of my friends use the "N" word and say racist things about Black People, I didn't say anything, but I would always think to myself, "Wow. They're saying those things and they believe those things because they've never seen what I saw.  They don't know what I know.  They just don't understand."  I'm so glad that I had that experience.  Going to that school for a few months and especially that one afternoon at my friend’s house saved me.  They saved me from a closed mind that would have really limited my thinking, my understanding, and my whole life.   I'm so thankful for that.

Those are the kinds of stories that can deeply touch our hearts and in so doing, help all of us to understand each other on a level much deeper than we almost ever do.  If we could learn how to both share our own stories and with neither judgment nor defensiveness, listen to those of others, we would grow in wisdom at a rate that I don't think we even believe is possible.  In listening, for example, to an Irish American friend re-count the story of his immigrant great grandparents and the discrimination and harassment they faced upon their arrival in Boston in the late 1800’s, I want to be able to experience curiosity about their experience, ask questions and learn about their experiences, about which I formerly knew virtually nothing.  I want to be able to hear my friend without feeling resentment, without thinking, "Well at least they weren't slaves."  I want to be able to give my friend the great human gift of my full presence as he tells me his story, and to listen to him compassionately, with a clear mind and open heart. 

7.  What We Must Do  (1,837 words including the footnotes)

This excerpt was taken from the following section of the book:

·       Page 356, Para 1, beginning with, “We must raise awareness”, to Page 361, end of Para 1, ending with, “the death of prejudice.”

We must raise awareness.  We must dismantle prejudice.  Raising awareness is my life’s work.  In that work, I have found that there are a number of awareness models that are particularly effective in helping adults to become more conscious. Dr. Milton J. Bennett’s Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity is my favorite.[17]  In his model, Dr. Bennett spells out six stages of self-awareness in the area of intercultural sensitivity.  Stage I, the lowest stage is called the Denial of Difference stage.  Sadly, I believe that most Americans live in this first stage of awareness. The following characterize the Stage I level of awareness, the Denial of Difference stage: [18]

It is the default mechanism for many people who grow up in a homogenous environment.   
People at this stage of development have very few and rather simple categories for understanding cultural differences, other people and themselves. 
Stage One individuals use terms such as “foreigners” in reference to entire races and nationalities of people.  They may refer to Thai, Japanese. Vietnamese and all other Asian cuisines, as “Chinese food.” 
Stage One is generally a benign perspective in that no malice accompanies it.    
The Denial of Difference stage, although not malicious, is still potentially highly damaging because it can lead to an extremely   inhuman consequence – the denial, (or at least the total lack of awareness) of the possibility that the people who are different from the denier, actually live much more complex lives outside of the denier’s very simple categories of understanding. 

Those simple categories of understanding lead the person in this stage to for example, ask their Indigenous acquaintance, “So, how old were you when you first learned to ride a horse?”  or, “Can you teach me how to make that turquoise and silver jewelry?  It’s so pretty.”, or to a Nicaraguan student, “I love Mexican food.  You were lucky to grow up eating it.”, or to their Asian friend, “I’ve been trying to download some software onto my computer, but just can’t make it work.  Would you have any time tomorrow to help me out with that?”, or to their sixty year old African American neighbor, “I just loved the way Michael Jackson danced.  Who’s your favorite hip hop artist?”  The person at this stage of awareness would, (as was true of a famous European American cable news show host), be utterly surprised that in a Harlem restaurant, the patrons have the ability to order tea without shouting profanities at the waiters, and that at a concert, the African American star of the show would establish a norm of no profanity and that her band would be dressed in tuxedos. This person’s very simple categories of understanding would cause him to be completely surprised that the  “gangsta rap” culture is not characteristic of African American culture in general.

It is Stage One awareness that is the source of the daily indignities of“shopping while black”, (which I have personally experienced many times in my life),  and “driving while black”; of the act of killing Sikh people in response to anti-Muslim sentiment; of New York City’s stop and frisk law; of a statement made within the past year by a former governor that, “immigrants are more fertile” (presumably than European Americans); of yet another statement by a member of the U.S. House of Representatives that, “This is a very serious matter because it is our children who are the prize for this, (the LGBTQ) community.  They are specifically targeting our children.”

If I am correct in assuming that she was referring to African Americans in general, (and I may not be), the response of the Zimmerman Trial’s Juror B37 to CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper’s interview question, “When she, (prosecution witness Rachel Jeantel) used the phrase, “creepy ass cracker”, what did you think of that…..and did you see that as negative statement or a racial statement as the defense suggested?” perfectly characterizes this stage.  The juror’s response was, “I don’t think it’s really racial.  I think it’s just everyday life, the type of life that they live and how they’re living and the environment that they’re living in.”    Again, if my assumption is correct, Juror B37, in her wildest imaginings, is probably utterly incapable, of conceiving of a Pontchartrain Park.  It is in all likelihood, simply not possible for her, in her present consciousness, to see and really understand that African American communities and other American communities of color are as diverse and as complex as European American communities.  Her ostensible Stage One awareness has blinded her and all others who live at the Stage One level of consciousness, to that reality.  It is truly an emotional disability, every bit as much so as the kind of emotional disability that blinds millions of Americans who are born and raised in poor neighborhoods, to their inherent value and human potential.

It is this Stage One level of awareness that I believe characterizes, quite tragically, the majority of Americans.  At this stage, the person does not really know what it is that they think they know, they don’t know that they don’t know, but interestingly, they are often convinced that they know.  In reality, what they frequently “know” is misinformation.  The suggestion that, “Affirmative Action laws were passed in order to lower standards so that minorities and women could get in”, is typical of misinformation that results from Stage One awareness.  Each time someone has made that comment either to me or in my presence, I responded in the same way, “That’s an interesting perspective that I actually happen to disagree with.  Have you read the Affirmative Action laws?  Have you read the legislative history behind the laws which explain their intent?”   Not once, in my experience, was the question answered affirmatively.  After my discussion partner has said “no” in answer to my question, I then go on to share with them the historical, fact-based, i.e., the correct information.  What always amazes me, however, is the level of emotion, the anger and resentment that so often accompany their misinformation.

If I lived my life in Stage One awareness, I would believe that all southern White Americans always have been, are and always will be racists.  I would believe that all other White Americans are racist as well, and are merely hiding it.  But I know…….I know better than that.  As a child raised by a mother who greatly respected and followed Dr. King’s message of love and non-violence, I was taught to not think that way, and I certainly couldn’t talk that way.  That message of love allowed me, as an adult, to see the humanity of all people, including White People, even those who do not see my individuality and my humanity. I am eternally grateful that although I have, in some very painful ways suffered what is often the great heartbreak of being a Person of Color in the United States, I was spared the added emotional disability of cultural blindness.

In order for people to be moved out of Stage One awareness, they must be introduced to more difference, more complexity regarding the groups of people about whom they think simplistically. In this regard, it would be helpful for teams of experienced diversity trainers, psychologists, teachers and advertising executives to brainstorm how to provide such categories in the most effective way, in the least amount of time, to the largest number of people, for sustained results, over the longest possible period of time.

One mechanism which I have personally witnessed be extremely effective in providing complexity to Stage One thinking, is deep dialogue.  As I mentioned in the   Fortunately, about this, there is exceedingly good news – this kind of consciousness work, this kind of dialogue work is already happening.    It is indeed being done in community-based groups and organizations such as Portland Oregon’s Uniting to Understand Racism.  On matters of faith, religion and spirituality, it is being done in the community-based dialogues facilitated by The Faith Club and the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group, among a number of others.  It is being done by professionals in organizations like the Compassionate Listening Project and the Public Conversations Project.  This work of  “having the conversation” about which we hear so much from progressive television pundits, is being done, and being done well, in pockets all over the country.  As I mentioned, however,  in “The Grand Trilogy of Truth”, Part II to the Introduction, I believe that dialogues on multicultural issues may yield their greatest possible results if they are preceded by good solid training in which participants receive information on the following three essential things:

The fundamental facts about the biology of race;
The facts about our racial past; and,
The facts about how our racial past has influenced and continues to influence our racial present. 

When the conversation goes well, it can provide for European Americans, an experience that mirrors that of the young Texas girl who spent an afternoon at the home of her elementary school friend.[19]   For Americans of Color, it can provide the awareness of our own prejudgments of both ourselves and of European Americans.    Most importantly, however, when the conversation is successful, it results in each person, irrespective of race, doing within her or himself, serious, sincere soul searching.

With regard to discrimination, we first needed civil rights laws to make it illegal. We then needed Affirmative Action to accelerate its demise.  With regard to prejudice, we first needed the kinds of societal changes heretofore discussed, more People of Color as college graduates, in a much broader range of professions, as members of the middle class, in high levels of government, in high-level corporate positions and in movies, television shows, Broadway plays and  other forms of popular culture.  We now need an intervention to accelerate its demise.  We need “affirmative actions” to hasten the death of prejudice.

[1] I want to thank my dear friend Theresa for encouraging me to tell my personal racial story as part of this work.

[2] The two African American restaurants that my family went to, Dooky Chase and Levata's Oyster House, like all of the city's other black eating establishments, had incredible food, so fortunately, we were  not at a "food disadvantage" by eating at segregated restaurants.  It may have been the only way in which segregation did not result in a social and economic hardship to us.

[3]  Our separate, much smaller and utterly unequal amusement park was Lincoln Beach, located down a two lane street on which there was no public transportation, a full twelve miles from downtown New Orleans.

[4] New Orleanians refer to Lakeshore Drive, a long, very pleasant avenue which runs along Lake Pontchartrain, the city’s northern border, as, “the Lakefront”.  For its entire length, the lake is on one side of Lakeshore Drive, and a very nice picnic area is on the other.

[5] I shall use the terms “African American” and “black”, and “European American” and “white” interchangeably.

[6] I use the word, “captor” and not “owner” because I do not believe that one human being can ever own another.

[7] Among the most memorable conversations that I have ever had about the discrimination that I experienced during my earliest years of life, was that which I had with a white European man who was my friend for a few years, about five years ago.  He was from Romania and had grown  up in his country, under communism.  I will never forget my friend’s  reaction to my story, to my telling him that if he and his parents had been able to visit the United States during that time, and had they come to New Orleans during their visit, they would have been able to go to amusement parks, restaurants, theaters, movie houses and many other places that my parents and I would have been prohibited from entering; that my parents and I would not have been able to drink from the same water fountains as he and his parents; that we wouldn’t have been able to use the same restrooms that he and his parents used; that we would have had to sit behind them on public service busses; that he and I would not have been able to attend the same school; that our families would likely not have been able to live in the same neighborhood, and that all of those things, the water fountains, restrooms, lunch counters,  everything that we had, would have been vastly inferior to everything that  they had. As he looked at me in pure amazement, my friend responded, “Lauren, in Romania, we didn’t know anything about  this.  All we knew was that the United States was the land of freedom, and we all wanted to come here. I can’t believe that your own country would treat you like that.  I can’t believe that me, a foreigner, could have come here and been treated better than you and your parents, who are Americans.  It was different, but kind of like me growing up in communism.  You had no freedom. Lauren, you and me, we’re human beings.  We’re human beings.  There’s no difference.  I’m sorry Lauren.”  And as through his thick Romanian accent, he uttered that last sentence, my friend, a large, fit, muscular blonde haired, blue eyed man of over six feet, wiped tears from his eyes. 

[8]  I have been struck, in many conversations with Barbara, by how different her childhood was in New Jersey during the 1950's and 60's.  She and her family are also African American and as a child, her parents took her and her siblings to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.  They had Sunday outings to Baskin Robbins. They visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art and rode on all the rides in Atlantic City.  Barbara listens to the stories of my childhood under segregation with nothing but pure amazement.   She was aware of the existence of segregation, of course, but had never before heard actual stories of what it was like to actually live in it every day and of what happened, initially when it ended.  My stories have been a real eye opener for Barbara.

[9] The Act prohibited segregation in all public accommodations.

\[10] As a teenager in 1969, I could have never imagined that in 2013, nearly fifty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, African and now also Latin Americans, would again face horrible and quite obvious attempts to both suppress our vote and intimidate us into not voting.  I could not have imagined that our nation’s highest court would have gutted the strongest section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  It is almost unbelievable to me that our nation is once again fighting that tired, old, weary battle.  It is a common saying within the community of civil rights activists, that every generation has to win its freedom anew.  It seems to be just accepted. That apparent acceptance of having to fight similar battles all over again in every generation makes me extremely uncomfortable, and yet, I know that it is indeed the reality.  With each successive battle, however, I tell myself, “Just as a pendulum swings back and forth several times before the swinging stops and it finally settles into a strong, stable mid-point, this too, in time, shall end.”

[11]  The symbiotic relationship of education, employment and housing is explored in Note Five. 

[12]  I am particularly disturbed by the fact that even with our history as targets of some of the most heinous, inhumane treatment to which human beings have been subjected, many African Americans, including many African Americans of faith, hold a heterosexist and homophobic worldview. 

[13] See Dr. Robert Terry’s “Parable of the Ups and Downs” for information  on how , as human beings, we go, “dump up” when we are in our “up” categories.  PDF click here.

[14] That young woman was indeed, quite possibly not racist.  She may very well have had friends of color at school or in her neighborhood with whom she may have been quite comfortable.  That fact, however, often does not translate into a general comfort level with Americans of Color.

[15]  Although the two narratives are told in first person, and do accurately represent the message, they are not verbatim accounts.

[16] That young man’s story reminded me of an experience that my cousin Joe had many years ago, and that he shared with me, (with what I perceived was both anger and pain), immediately after it occurred.   Joe’s story was essentially the following, “Laurie, I just came back from Wal Mart, buying oil for my car.  As I walked down the main, center aisle of the store, a white woman was walking in the other direction, toward me.   Now, mind you, it was the middle of the day, with hundreds of people around in a big store, and the second that lady looked at me, she clutched her purse and moved way over.  Laurie, I’m so tired of people responding to me like that!  This is how God made me.  I can’t look any better than this.  I’m a good person, Laurie.”  Even though Joe shared that story with me years ago, I remember very clearly that he was dressed, as he did frequently, in meticulously ironed pants with a crisp crease, a polo shirt and loafers.  Joe is dark brown-skinned so it’s possible that the woman’s fear was exacerbated for that reason.  All I could say to Joe, a young man of deep religious faith who lives his life consistent with his faith, was, “I know, Joe.  I know, man.”  In that moment, I hurt for him.  My heart ached for my young cousin.

The irrationality of the fear that many European Americans have of African American men and other Americans of Color becomes crystal clear when seen through the lens of American crime statistics.  Those statistics demonstrate conclusively that in the history of the United States, many tens of thousands more Americans of Color have been beaten, tortured, lynched and in other ways murdered by European Americans, than the other way around.  American history demonstrates irrefutably that many more synagogues, more Muslim temples, and more African American churches have been defamed and bombed by European Americans, and far more homes and businesses of Americans of Color have been burned by European Americans, than the other way around.

[17] Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, Milton J. Bennett, M.D. PDF click here

[18] The term, “Denial of Difference” can be misleading since at this stage of awareness, the individual sees almost nothing but difference, difference between themselves those who are of a different race.  This stage is called, “Denial of Difference”, however, because it is characterized in part, by statements that do deny difference, statements such as, “There’s no difference.” “ We’re all the same.” “Race doesn’t matter.” “ I don’t even see race.”  .

[19] The objective of the experience is not to convince European Americans that for example, not all African Americans are poor, or that not all Latin Americans are undocumented, or that not all Asian Americans are mathematically inclined, or that not all Indigenous People are alcoholics.  Rather, the purpose of the experience is to illustrate that communities of color are not monolithic, that they are as diverse as European American communities, by class, religion, political ideology and in every other way that human beings can be diverse.  Essentially, the goal of the experience is to introduce complexity to whatever Stage One awareness any participants may have. 


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