Virginia Woolf & Massacre response

Readers of Virginia Woolf & Tulsa Massacre joined me in admitting ignorance about the massacre—white Americans killing 300 African Americans. Samples:
After all my years of studying history (elementary, secondary, undergrad and grad levels) I have to admit that I was woefully ignorant of the treatment of blacks . . .
If we who have had what we thought was a “solid” education have such blank spaces in our knowledge, I am not surprised that many Americans are ignorant of the terrible things done to people of color.

Lois Thielen:
The fact is, so much history is buried or not accurate or biased.  Think back to our school history books.  They were basically propaganda.
I try to do better in my own writing of history.

Poet Larry Schug:
Thanks, Jeanette.  It amazes me to learn of the history we were not taught. . . . We writers have a special obligation and opportunity to spread truth through our art.

George Floyd

You breathed until you stopped breathing,
your breath cut off by a …

St. John Lewis

A Congressional colleague of his said that John R. Lewis was the most Christ-like person he has ever known.

Lewis was beaten nearly to death when he led civil rights marchers across the Edmond Pettus Bridge in 1965, as every American by now should know. He had been arrested and jailed up to 40 times before. “I don't like pain,” he said.
I don't like to suffer in a hospital. But if that's the price you have to pay to make things better for others, I was willing to pay that price.  This is my idea of a martyr.
Christlike, Lewis preached and modeled love and forgiveness, earning the title “conscience of the Congress.” He forgave enemies of civil rights marchers.

His philosophy, he said, was very simple.
When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, stand up. Say something. Speak up and speak out. [Then, he says,] you get into trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.  Saint-like, he motivates us to keep working for justice.
Lewis’s words in an On Being intervi…

John Lewis

“Donald Trump is not my president,” said John Lewis. I rejoiced because that is how I felt. I felt validated hearing it from a person of unquestioned integrity—John Lewis. The words “president” and “Trump” do not fit together as one phrase; the office is respectable; the current holder is not. I hate saying or writing “President Trump.” It seems wrong.

Some years ago I turned on the radio to an interview that struck me as unusually fine and wondered who the inspiring speaker was. Ever after, I have recognized John Lewis’s voice after hearing only a few words.

Lewis preached love and forgiveness. Nothing remarkable about that, but John Lewis modeled them in remarkable ways. Elwin Wilson physically attacked Lewis when Lewis was marching for civil rights. Wilson was gleeful in his frequent attacks on Negroes. Lewis forgave him. Trent Lottdeclared that civil rights turmoil could have been avoided if racist Senator Strom Thurmond had become president. Lewis forgave him.

The death of this g…

Virginia Woolf & Tulsa Massacre

I had never read A Room of One’s Own. For decades it was on my “someday” list of works to read. Now that I get books from the library only by ordering them, I finally read Virginia Woolf’s famous book, doubting I would find it as groundbreaking as everyone said.  Its emotional effect on me surpassed my expectation, shaped as I am now by the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing fallout. Written in 1928, A Room of One’s Own still applies today, in 2020. 

Woolf wondered why women are so interesting to men. “Have you any notion of how many [books about women] have been written by men?” 
She studied a few learned tomes by men about women:         Alexander Pope wrote, “Most women have no character at all.”         Dr. Samuel Johnson regarded a woman composer “like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.”         Oscar Browning, professor at Cambridge, declared after looking over examination papers that “the best woman was inte…

Catholic history & racism

Guest columnist John Chuchman thought a bit about Catholic Church history.
In the 15th century,  the Catholic Church became the first global institution  to declare that Black lives did not matter.

 In a series of papal bulls  beginning with Pope Nicholas V's Dum Diversas (1452)  and including Pope Alexander VI's Inter Caetera (1493),  the church not only authorized the perpetual enslavement of Africans  and the seizure of non-Christian lands,  but morally sanctioned the development of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. 

This trade forcibly transported  at least 12.5 million enslaved African men, women and children  to the Americas and Europe  to enrich European and Catholic coffers. 

It also caused the deaths of tens of millions of Africans and Native Americans over nearly four centuries.

In the land area that became the United States,  the Catholic Church introduced African slavery in the 16th century

George Floyd

I’m running errands, knowing the memorial for George Floyd is happening. When I get back to my car, I hear the announcer’s voice ending and then silence. More silence. Then the announcer saying people are standing for 8 minutes, 46 seconds. Immediately I think, "That’s too long! If I were there I would have to sit down."
I can’t stand for long. When I was a little girl, everything around me turned black during long-standing portions of the Mass. Always I was saved by the congregation shifting positions before I fell in a faint. 
The radio announcer comes on again and explains the silence is how long the cop’s knee was on George Floyd’s neck. Ohhh. Tears of sudden understanding fill my eyes as I drive on. The image of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck returns—staying for a long time!
Other moments of sudden tears happened that weekend. At home I studied Chauvin’s face as he knelt on the neck of a Black man. No fear. Rather a look of victory. He looked secure in h…


Now is the moment to change the world, writes Rutger Bregmanin Timemagazine. He quotes Milton Friedman: Only a crisis . . . produces real change.Bregman strengthens my hope that this crisis may be a catalyst for changes that help heal the planet and its inhabitants.
The coronavirus pandemic is laying bare grotesque inequities, making a return to the “normal” before it unlikely. Like a forest fire letting sunlight reach the forest floor, it shows the rot of injustice and inequality preventing the whole of society from flourishing.
It exposes the craziness of our economic system. In Bregman’s words, “the more vital your work, the less you are paid, the more insecure your employment and the more risk you are in the fight against the coronavirus.” I add that performers of the least vital work—hedge fund managers, multinational elites, Wall Street financiers—control the most wealth.
Among changes needed, Bregman mentions autocrats “suffocating democracy.” Kim Jong Un, Victor Orban in Hungar…