Chicago Sun-Times
Discussions across the racial divide

August 2006 Archives

Live From Beirut

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I've been in the Middle East with the Rev. Jesse Jackson for the first five days, and I feel like I've been working on a degree in Middle Eastern affairs.

We've been in Syria where we met with the president, as well as religious leaders. Jackson's mission is to secure support for the proposed UN peacekeeping mission, to extend the cease-fire, and to convince Hamas and Hezbollah forces to release three Israeli prisoners.

We left Syria by motorcade, escorted by military personnel.

By the time we reached Beirut, my heart was aching over the devastation in this region.

Elvria Arellano is the illegal immigrant who has chosen to live in a cramped storefront church rather than face deportation to Mexico.

Besides being here illegally, Arellano, who is a single mother, was caught using someone else's Social Security number. While I empathize with her plight, Arellano is using icons of the civil rights movement--first Rosa Parks, but now also Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X--to justify her decision to break immigration laws.

That's just wrong --for a lot of reasons.

Sorry. I haven't felt like wading through these posts lately.

But there's no escaping the madness when it comes to race. I was in Indy when the Andrew Young story broke. Actually, Young didn't say anything in his now infamous interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel that he didn't say in a recent editorial board meeting with the Chicago Sun-Times, except I don't remember him mentioning "Jews."

None of us batted an eye.

I was more appalled that someone of Young's stature--a civil rights leader, former Atlanta mayor and U.N. Ambassador-- had stooped to being a pitchman for Wal-Mart.

After a day of workshops, I ended up at a reception being hosted by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.
It was pretty lively.
i spotted an empty chair at a table with the only two white women in the room.
I grabbed a seat and struck up a conversation.
Both women work for non-profits. They were at the NABJ conference scouting talent for fellowship opportunities.
"So how does it feel to be the only white people here?" I asked.

This is a question that comes up so often, I might as well get the answer out of the way before someone asks me again.

I'm in Indianapolis attending NABJ's 31st Annual Convention and Career Fair.

Black journalists from across the country will spend the next three days focusing on career development, attending workshops networking....and, yes, partying.

Yes, there are non-black journalists here as well, but for the most part, they are here as recruiters.

Seems to me if you can pay $500,000 to build a house in South Barrington, racism shouldn't be a problem? Right.
So what do you think happening when a seller suddenly reneges on a contract to sell to a well-to-do oral surgeon? The surgeon claims the mob-connected seller changed gears after learning he is black? See Sun-Times

Road Trip

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I'm in Toronto attending the International HIV/AIDS conference.

Thanks to the Black AIDS Institute, I've been given an opportunity to spend the next three days with medical professionals, activists, advocates and policy-makers from all over the world.

Because of the heightened terror alert, getting out of Chicago's O'Hare Airport was a real challenge. But people took the intense screening in stride, and I learned that I could really get by with one suitcase and no carry-on bag.

Toronto looks so much like Chicago that Hollywood has passed it off as Chicago in several movies. I've been here a few times and there's a noticeable difference between the people in Chicago and the people here. They are a lot friendlier.

I got a call from Bomb and Arson Cmdr. Edward O'Donnell Thursday morning.

Turns out, O'Donnell was one of the police officers involved in a auto collision near 15th & Homan about a week ago. See the full version of my Thursday column for details..

What is it going to take before the Chicago Police Department realizes that a lot of black people are fed up? And when will the aldermen open their eyes and see that many of their constituents are sitting on a powder keg?

This is true not just because a 14-year-old boy from Cabrini-Green was critically injured when he allegedly pointed a replica of a 9mm Smith & Wesson at officers. But because too many people are complaining about being mistreated by police officers.

The Dilemma

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When an 11-year-old girl is struck by a stray bullet while playing video games in her father's basement, I want a SWAT team to swoop down on the neighborhood and go door-to-door looking for the shooter.

I want police to put up road blocks and search every car until they find the person who cared so little about his own life and the lives of others that he fired a weapon on the street.

I also want to distance myself from such an evil human being.

But I can't.

Truth is, every time I am confronted with the horrible things black people can do to other black people, I'm filled with anger and shame. I doubt whites feel that way about white serial killers.

There's been a lot of back and forth sniping about who is committing the most heinous crimes.
Frankly, anytime a human being takes another human being's life, I consider it a heinous act. But some of you seem convinced that black criminals are worst than white ones, and vice versa, or at least that's how you come across on this blog.

I'm so repulsed by the word "nigger" I vowed to never use it years ago, and to check anyone who uses it in my presence.
So, of course I was disappointed that the Rev. and state Sen. James T. Meeks publicly used the word-again.
Today, I called up Meeks and asked why.

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