Thursday, June 18, 2015


The stories are overwhelming.

Once again, the destruction of black lives in a historic church testifies to a legacy of slavery and lynching kept alive by hate groups and individuals deranged by racism. Over 50 years have passed since the bombing murder of four little girls in a Birmingham church. How many times does this dreadful eruption of racism and gun violence get to be repeated?

There would be no room emotionally for any other story today were it not for the Pope’s historic encyclical on climate change. No world figure has so compellingly joined the truth of the planet’s peril to an indictment of systemic forces that foster extreme inequality and block the changes necessary for survival. Nor has there been a more powerful appeal to social conscience and responsibility. Gorbachev once raised hopes with a similar appeal at the United Nations. We can hope and expect the Pope to be far more influential.

There is also a much smaller story that’s getting oversized exposure over the last few days, especially on TV and social media. That’s about Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP activist who is white but who chose to identify as black. I usually find Charles Blow’s columns in the New York Times to be spot on and very insightful. This time, though, I prefer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s take on the episode: Let Rachel Dolezal Be as Black as She Wants to Be

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