Charlottesville: Just the Tip of of the Iceberg

Photos of Charlottesville

Charlottesville is a city where the University of Virginia, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson, proudly stands. It is one of the most prestigious Public Universities in the country. It also has a history of slavery and discrimination.   I remember when I was in high school, I participated in a program at the University of Virginia and one of the tour guides told a story of how at the University of Virginia there is prestigious housing zone, called The Lawn, which is reserved for high-achieving students. It is one of the oldest parts of the University and in the antebellum days, slaves were not permitted to be brought to the University, but people with slaves would sneak them in and hide them in these houses. When an African-American student, who lived on The Lawn, wanted to run for student government, this student had racial slurs written on their housing complex. Thomas Jefferson himself owned slaves and fathered mixed-race children with enslaved Sally Hemmings.

The hatred that was seen during the white supremacist march near Charlottesville is not new. It has a long legacy and decades of racist policies have led up to this tension.  This is not a situation of free speech, this is just an expression of hatred and a violation of other people’s civil rights. Trump spoke out and claimed to condemn the violence, but the reality is, his words, his calls for a “Muslim ban,” his birtherism, his flirtation with white supremacy is what flamed the fires of this type of white supremacy in the first place. So, Trump is a contributor to this hatred.

The media appears to be hypocritical. I have not heard any of these white supremacist marchers called thugs, even though, a white supremacist allegedly ran over a peaceful counter protestor. I have not heard anyone asking, “where the parents are,” of these white supremacist protestors. I did not see the same display of force against these white supremacist protestors as was seen in Ferguson, where BLM protestors were pepper-sprayed. I have not seen these white supremacists labeled as terrorists. Fox News refers to this as a white supremacist rally, but called Baltimore a riot.  I guess it’s only people of color who get that kind of treatment.

The one positive thing that came out of this was seeing counter protestors of all colors, white, black, and brown who showed up to take a stand against this. If any of you believe that all white people are evil, you are mistaken because it took courage to stand up against a violent group of white supremacists and do the right thing. There were interfaith, multiracial clergy members who came together, even faced violence themselves, to denounce this and bring a message of peace and love.

All this stems from ignorance. The Public-School system has not done an adequate job in teaching about institutional inequality (the Public-school system itself is an institution of inequality) and we don’t teach children about having empathy for other people. We don’t have a required racial justice curriculum for teachers or students and we do not promote peace and conflict resolutions, we promote violence. There are people who study peace and conflict resolution as a profession and they are trained in how to deal with these situations, why don’t we use them as a resource ever?

(White Woman Killed by White Supremacist)

Added: This is a tragedy and I mourn for Heather, a white woman who stood against prejudice and became a victim of white supremacy in Charlottesville. I mourn for Susie Jackson and the 8 other victims of Charleston shooting back in 2015 and I mourn for all the nameless Black, Brown, White and people of all colors who have been killed and murdered by white supremacy and hatred in general. I also mourn for all those who have been disenfranchised and harmed by the system of white supremacy itself.





Charlottesville: Just the Tip of of the Iceberg

Unarmed White Woman Killed By Police In Minneapolis

An Australian woman named Justine Damond was shot in Minneapolis after calling the police to report a suspected sexual assault. For unknown reasons, when police arrived, she was shot. It has been reported that she was unarmed. The police officers have been sent away and placed on administrative leave. One of the police officers was named Mahmoud Noor and the other was named Matthew Harrity. It has been reported that Noor was the one who pulled the trigger.

Noor may be Somali, while Damond is white. Interesting role reversal here. It will be interesting to see how the media and society respond to this. We know countless Black women (and men) have been shot by white police officers and usually when this occurs, it is accompanied by investigations into the victim’s character. Their past will be scrutinized, to look for the slightest infraction, their parentage will be criticized. Will this be the case with Justine?

Will the media wonder whether Justine was behaving aggressively, will they say she might have had an attitude, will they do thorough backgrounds check to find out whether or not she smoked weed in 7th grade?

I doubt it.

It’s a tragedy that someone unarmed was killed by the police. It’s a tragedy that someone lost a daughter, a fiance, a friend… as we Black folks know already, there are systemic problems with policing in this country. It’s unfortunate. BTW, the police officers were wearing body cameras ( they weren’t turned on). This demonstrates that body cameras alone aren’t enough.

The Somali Community in Minneapolis is prepared for an assault on their entire identity. As we know, when minorities do something, the entire group is blamed, when it’s a white person, they are just individuals gone made.

Documentary About Police Shootings (



Unarmed White Woman Killed By Police In Minneapolis

Update on Reading List 2016-2017

How am I doing on my reading list? 

Well, it’s not always easy to read when you are a full-time student, but I’m finding that ironically I am reading more books from my reading list this year than I have in past years.

What have I read so far?

I’ve read:

Ladivine by Marie N’Diaye. It is a french-novel, which is set in Europe. I read the English- translated version of it. It’s a classic story of a mixed-race woman, who must come to terms with her African heritage, but she keeps running away from it. She denies part of who she is an in essence, she keeps her identity hidden from everyone, including her husband and daughter. Eventually, her double life becomes suffocating and unbearable, not only for her, but for those around her, who love her. An ongoing symbol within the novel is that of an abandoned dog and it is up to the reader to decide what that symbol represents. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s definitely very well-done.

The Subterraneans by Jack Kerouac. It’s is a story inspired by a true story. It is about a young man who rolls with the Subterranean crowd. The subterraneans are an artsy, beatnik type of group. It is sets in the 1950s. He develops a relationship with a Black woman, named Mardou Fox. She is a mysterious character and the protagonist often seems to take her for granted (not unlike how many Black women are taken for granted in the present day). Overall, I enjoyed it. Some of the writing is very erotic and enticing, if you like that.

I’ve also read Souls of Black Folk, which I wrote about in this post.

I’ve also read Citizen, which I wrote about in this post.

I’ve also read Cutting for Stone, which I wrote about in this post.

I’m halfway through From Poor Law to Welfare State and I’ll write what I took away from that book when I am finished.

Now, I am reading I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, next is Go Set a Watchmen, then Parable of the Sower, then the Jungle by Upton Sinclair, then finally Americanah (which I’ve been putting off for years), then I have to read the Bible in entirety and then Anna Karenina.

This many not seem like I’ve been reading as much as I should, but the truth is, I love to read. I always read excerpts and go on amazon to find books, but i get distracted by technology. I’ll be laying on my bed, reading a book, then suddenly my email will buzz and I’ll put the book down to check and next thing I know, it’s 2am in the morning. This is how I end up not reading.

But, I’ve tried to make a habit of reading at least 15- 30 pages every night. I’ve realized that although the internet is a gift in a lot of ways, it can stifle your learning because you are continuously looking for stuff that you already know and you don’t know how to search for what you don’t know because you don’t know what to search for!

It’s like running on a hamster wheel, but with books, I am learning so much more  in the past few months than I ever thought I would. I am realizing how far behind on my reading I am, but thanks to Abagond, I am being inspired to read nightly. I still have so much more to do.

My motivations for reading more include my desire to improve my writing,  my desire to indulge my reading hobby and also my desire to stand against the ignorance that has so permeated the political atmosphere. The more you read and learn from a multitude of viewpoints, the more empathy you have, the more you understand history and society and the more your mind opens. I want my mind to be open.

Update on Reading List 2016-2017

Citizen by Claudia Rankine

I read another book from my reading list over a month ago and I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

The book Citizen by Claudia Rankine is a book or prose, which tells the story of what it’s like to be Black in modern America. Rankine covers everyday micro aggressions, that are often experienced by African-Americans in the 21st century, like being followed in your own neighborhood, or being reported to the police, when you are housesitting for a friend in the suburbs. She also writes of major injustices, like police brutality and shootings of Black people.

What I enjoyed was that she discussed the experiences of Black women, like Serena Williams, who despite their talent and class, have been demeaned and made into caricatures by white society. It is a very relatable book. I read this book right after I finished reading Souls of Black Folk by DuBois and I found that much of the injustices that Rankine writes about have been ongoing. For example the police brutality that she describes through her lyrics harkens back to what DuBois wrote about in Souls of Black Folk:

” The police system of the South was originally designed to keep track of all the Negroes, not simply of criminals; and when the Negroes were freed and the whole South was convinced of the impossibility of free Negro labor, the first and almost universal device was to use the courts as a means of re-enslaving the blacks” (Souls of Black Folk, p. 108)

I find this quote very relevant in the present day.

Overall, I recommend this book for every Black person, especially Black women. It is a short read, but very poignant.

My Favorite Excerpt from Citizen:

“The man doesn’t acknowledge you as you sit down because the man knows more about the unoccupied seat than you do. For him, you imagine, it is more like breath than wonder; he has had to think about it so much you wouldn’t call it thought.

When another passenger leaves his seat and the standing woman sits, you glance over at the man. He is gazing out the window into what looks like darkness. 

You sit next to the man on the train, bus, in the plane, waiting room, anywhere he could be forsaken. You put your body there in proximity to, adjacent to, alongside, within” (Citizen, p. 131)

I thought that passage was pretty thought-provoking.



Citizen by Claudia Rankine

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

I read this book, which was on my reading list, more than a month ago. I am now posting about it.

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubois was written in 1903. It was a landmark piece of literature, which presented a counter narrative to the stereotypes of African Americans, at that time. At the turn of the Century, many African-Americans faced prejudices and atrocities, such as dehumanization in minstrel shows, denial of education, voter suppression, peonage, Jim Crow, systemic rape, police brutality and lynching. In addition, many African-Americans, who had never been adequately restituted for slavery, lived in poverty throughout the South.

However, DuBois writes, not only of the destitute position that many African-Americans were forced to live in during this time, but writes of the resilience and tenacity that many African-Americans displayed, in the face of great obstacle and adversity. He writes of how in a single generation, from the time of legal slavery to the turn of the century, many African-Americans had become teachers, doctors, artisans and merchants. He writes of the beauty of African-American spirituals, a unique facet of culture, which was born in the “foster land,” of America, but comes from the sorrows and hopes of African-descended peoples. He tells the story of Alexander Crummell and other notable African-Americans of that time.

My Favorite Quotes:

” The police system of the South was originally designed to keep track of all the Negroes, not simply of criminals; and when the Negroes were freed and the whole South was convinced of the impossibility of free Negro labor, the first and almost universal device was to use the courts as a means of re-enslaving the blacks” (Souls of Black Folk, p. 108)

“The chief problem in any community cursed with crime is not the punishment of the criminals, but the preventing of the young from being trained in crime. And here again, the peculiar conditions of the South have prevented proper precautions. I have seen twelve year old boys working in chains on the public streets of Atlanta, directly in front of the schools, in company with old and hardened criminals” (Souls of Black Folk, 108)

“We must not forget that most Americans answer all queries regarding the Negro a priori and that the least that human courtesy can do is to listen to evidence” (Souls of Black Folk, p.61)

” This was the gift of New England to the freed Negro: not alms, but a friend; not cash, but character. It was not and is not money these seething millions want, but love and sympathy, the pulse of hearts beating with red blood” (Souls of Black Folk, p. 62).

“Even so is the hope that sang in the songs of my fathers well sung. If somewhere in this whirl and chaos of things there dwells Eternal Good, pitiful yet masterful, then anon in His good time America shall rend the Veil and the prisoned shall go free” (Souls of Black Folk, p. 163).

Reading this book, which is over 100 years old, has showed me that in a lot of ways, not much has changed with America. The same stereotypes persists, the same fears, the same systems of injustice, but by another name.I also took away that, throughout history, there have always been people, both white and black, who have stood against prejudice, like those at the Freedmen’s Bureau, who did try to right the wrongs of slavery, but failed, due to policy and Congressional oversight. This book gave me both a mixture of sadness and hope, but at this point I realize that racism is not going anywhere in America.

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

I have finished another book on my reading list. The book I read was Cutting for Stone and I very much enjoyed it.

What is it about? Without giving away too much, the story is set in Ethiopia, in the 1950s-1980s, at a fictional hospital called Missing. It centers around the story of twin brothers, who are born conjoined. The circumstances related to their birth are scandalous. Their mother was an Indian nun and their father an English surgeon. As a result of their scandalous birth circumstances, they grow up with in a mysterious atmosphere. They have a nice life in Ethiopia, their caregivers are respected expatriates, who work at a hospital. Both brothers are very interested in medicine and it becomes somewhat of an anchor, in the midst of their curious birth circumstances. The two brothers have very different personalities, one brother, Shiva, is suave and seems to attract people with ease, the other brother is more traditional, reserved and it takes people longer to get to know him. The reserved brother, Marion, loves an Eritrean girl, who grows up in the same household as him, but she has a very different life. Ultimately, the story travels all over the world, from India to Ethiopia to New York to Italy and back to Ethiopia. All the while, the boys maintain a sense of mystery, surrounding their birth, until one of the brothers goes to America, then the brothers’  world is changed drastically.

What I learned:

I learned some things about the political history of Ethiopia, such as the Occupation of Ethiopia by Italy, the occupation of parts of Eritrea by Ethiopia, I learned about Emperor Haile Selaisse and a military coup that occurred in Ethiopia.

I learned about some medical terminology, like what a fistula is.

This book made me want to learn more about Ethiopia/Eritrea, one book mentioned in the acknowledgements was the novel, To Asamara, by Thomas Keneally. I would like to read this novel and I would also like to read Ethiopia at Bay, another book mentioned in the acknowledgments, which tells about Ethiopia, under the reign of Emperor Selaisse.

Overall: The book was well-written, it was emotional, it was educational. They use many medical terms, but it only enriches the novel. I recommend it.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese