Issues of race in America are so intensely fraught, convoluted, personalized and wrapped in ego, self-righteousness, guilt, rage, self-pity, anger, class and confusion that it's a wonder black and white can even talk to each other anymore -- and in many important ways, they can't. A white professor uses the word "niggardly" -- a word that simply means stingy and has been with us since Chaucer's times -- and a black student reacts with fury, insisting, even after the root of the word has been explained, that it should be taken out of usage because whatever it means, it hurts his feelings. While Fox commentators sneer that Barack Obama's middle name is Hussein and his last rhymes with Osama, some members of the black community reject the senator's candidacy on the grounds that he's not black enough. Sure, Obama's physically black, one of these people, author Debra Dickerson, told Stephen Colbert. But as the son of a Kenyan father and a white mother, he hasn't shared in the black... More >>>
Tyee Tilghman finds the past a very present thing in A House With No Walls.