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Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

White Privilege

In LEVEL. More on Medium.

Just Rankin’ Sh!t

What the rassclaat!

What do you even call what Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean character had going on under that bandana? You can’t dignify them by calling them locs, but you also can’t minimize the reputational damage done — to Black hair and to pirates. All dude needs is a peasant skirt, and he’s ready to IG Live from Coachella. Hope you’ve got some clippers in that treasure chest, matey!

Sure, he’s got a name, but do you know it? (It’s Adam Duritz.) Out here looking like the cat in the back row of your junior-year history class who never had a…

To kill a word, you first have to kill an idea

Photo: Julian Myles via Unsplash

The last time somebody called me a n****r, I was on holiday.

I’d just arrived in Skopje, North Macedonia, innocently searching for something to get the taste of airline food out of my mouth, when I heard a shout from across the street:

“Hey! You! Uh… you are n****r.”

I looked over and saw a boy, no more than 18 years old, sitting on his bike. He waited for my reaction, his foot poised on the pedal in case I decided to chase him. I hadn’t provoked him. He was half my size, his English was barely up to the…

Adopting our slang and culture won’t make you an ally

Mr. Fellows, Bel-Air Academy English teacher

Here’s a message for my White brothers and sisters. Gather ’round the figurative community circle.

Recently, watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion, I thought back to the eight-year-old me who got a chance to see hip-hop on primetime TV in the ’90s. Fresh Prince might have shared the same network as The Cosby Show, but it wasn’t like its predecessor at all. (One can even make the argument that Fresh Prince was better, but I digress.) …

I’m glad you’re trying to figure it out, but where the hell have you been all this time?

Photos: Shane Paul Neil

Four days later, the results were final. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were in. Donald Trump and Mike Pence were out.

I spent that Saturday morning sifting through the latest updates while watching the coverage and joining the chatter on Twitter (yes, the Black one).

When the news hit, I watched Black joy in the form of GIFs, memes, and clever takes. We laughed while embracing all of our pettiness, mocking the racist cartoon Trump and his MAGA supporters had become in the wake of their loss.

I watched the joy of Black women.

I watched the joy of Brown…

We rode the school bus with Devin Brosnan. The news made all too much sense.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

One of the many sickening things about videos of Black people dying at the hands of police officers is that we all more or less know exactly how they will end. There is an eerie familiarity with every single one. Yet we still played that video of Rayshard Brooks. On cue, the insidious feeling we’ve become so accustomed to crept in. Even before the confrontation, even before the gunfire, we knew his fate.

As details emerged, so too did another horrifying feeling. We learned that we knew one of the officers involved in Brooks’ murder, Devin Brosnan. Devin came from…

You can’t fundraise away years of indifference

Protestors in New York City on June 4, 2020. Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images

On the morning of May 29, 2020, I sat, freshly awake in my queen-sized bed as a king-sized headache throbbed between my temples and into my eye sockets. It was a Friday, ostensibly the end of the week, but it was the beginning of a very different kind of week — a seven-day stretch during which America and its stated ideals once again burned into a smoldering heap of ember.

I woke up to Minneapolis on fire due to protests sparked in response to the death of George Floyd. I saw the images of a Minneapolis police station in flames…

Nice racism is still racism

Photo: 10'000 Hours/Getty Images

Black people know what you’re thinking about us — subtly but often blatantly — by the stupid things you say. Many of you will implore that we give you the benefit of the doubt, that your intentions are good, but I’m tired of treating you all like baby cotton balls. I’m also tired of walking away from conversations in which people ask me stupid, insensitive questions. Your curiosity is exhausting and telling.

Obviously, not all of you are racist. But some of you should learn not to say all the stupid things about people of color that are floating in…

People who aren’t Black must leave the slur alone — full stop — from the cradle to the casket

Photo: Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images

One of my mom’s friends is an elderly White woman in her eighties; they met at a Southern Baptist church we attended in the late ’90s. Let’s call her Ms. Rose.

A couple of years ago, Ms. Rose came over for Thanksgiving dinner, as she occasionally did. She was politically aware, and we didn’t shy away from talking about politics and racism at the dinner table. But during this particular dinner, our octogenarian guest got a little too comfortable. At one point, she told me her parents were racist. …


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