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I am not Charlie

10 January, 2015

Another week, another tragedy, and people getting no closer to dealing with the symptoms, after effects, and misery of racism. Though most intelligent people agree that people have the right to free speech – the right to criticize that free speech must also be respected. A Familiar Debate On Comedy In Which Contexts Collide : Code Switch : NPR.

And though what’s in the forefront is the radical response to depictions of their beloveds, it’s worth noting the publication has also satirized Jesus Christ, the Pope and many others of different persuasions.

But it’s important to be clear. None of us are Charlie. And neither are you. In just the same way though I am black, when yet another young unarmed black man is killed – I am not that man. Let’s sit as firmly as possible in our identities.

Years ago when Malcolm X said after political assignation of JFK in the US that “that the chickens had come home to roost” he meant that the assassination is the result of the climate of hate in which we live. MALCOLM X: CHICKENS COMING HOME TO ROOST – YouTube.

That climate of racism and hate have not disappeared. All the unhealed wounds that exist continue to fester.

I remember one of my first encounters with a French person, while eating lunch in a group. The French person said to me ” “Vous et un barbarian.” I followed their eyes as they looked first at my plate and then theirs, began cutting their fruit, fork lifted it to the mouth, and then shook the head head as if to say to me “See, this is how it’s done, you don’t hold your fruit with your hands.”

A simple exchange, a simple encounter, but how illuminating about the sense of power and entitlement at trying to make another person be more like them. After a lifetime of practice I am able to shake off the hundreds of tiny insults that have been my inheritance. But that is not so sometimes with younger people whose blood runs hot.

It would be a step in the right direction of the people who believe they are Charlie and who believe in free speech could even acknowledge that they might have been disliking Muslims in their country long before this incident. They might acknowledge that the cartoons were extremely provocative, upsetting and enraging to some Muslims, who already feel like an often despised despised minority in Europe. From “Under Cork” to Overcoming – Black Images in the Comics. Cartoons have long been a way of providing support to disparagement of people that takes place institutionally and politically.

Of course journalists have a right to point of view and freedom of speech:



And people have the right to react and respond… hopefully nonviolently and with compassion for each other. But if we set up more dualities of us and them, rather than us and us we continue our policies of exclusion and discrimination. And we know where that has gotten us.




A Cartoon for Justice

12 December, 2014

What Having White Privilege Looks Like In One Cartoon.