Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Racism--Unfinished Business

"The past is never dead. It's not even past."
         --William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

Want to read a good book? I just finished Tim Tyson’s, Blood Done Sign My Name.This non-fiction book is really about Tyson and his father’s journey with race in the South. His Father was a Methodist preacher during the seventies in Oxford, North Carolina.

When Tyson was ten year’s old a 23 year old black man was beaten unmercifully and shot to death in public by a white man with ties to the KKK. This story would change Tim Tyson’s life. He tells about the community, his father’s church, the trial that let the man who murdered the black man go free without any charge.

It is the story of a moderate white man in a typical Southern town in the seventies. Alongside his family's experiences is the story of enraged blacks who became radicalized and burned down much of the town.

Tyson’s father kept pressing his all-white Methodist congregation to widen their vision of humanity and pushed the town to come to terms with its bloody racial history. The family was forced to move away. Here we find one  courageous preacher's struggle to build bridges in a time of terrible destruction.

Tyson is a fine writer and now teaches Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the light of 2014 politics I find the seeds that were sown back in that dark time are still in full bloom today. We have come a long way from where we were—yet this country still has a long way to go when we come to racism.

Alongside this book you might want to read Ta-Neshisi Coates’ long and telling article in June 2014 The Atlantic, where he writes of the injustices that black folk have faced through the years. His article is called, “The Case for Reparations.”

The book is not really a Southern story--but it a story of our whole country. Ours really is an unfinished business.                    

                                      --RogerLovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com

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