In collaboration with City Club of Cleveland, A Race Anthology gathers “dispatches” from our region and across the nation to discuss the history and the current manifestations of segregation in Cleveland. This Anthology combines essays, comics, and poetry with transcripts from The City Club’s tremendous archives to give a glimpse into a dynamic that affects us all. (GTK Press website)
To be honest when I picked this book up, I did not expect to read it cover to cover! It is amazing. It should be required reading for college and school students, especially in Northern Ohio. One of my favorite pieces is "I'm Guilty" by Akram Boutros, CEO of MetroHealth. If you only read one piece, make it this one.
This book is incredible and a must-read for anyone who lives in Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs. It delves into the past, present, and future of segregation and race relations in Cleveland and is eye-opening. I cannot recommend it enough.
This collection of essays, poems, interviews, speeches, and a graphic essay, arranged in sections named "Today," "Yesterday," and "Tomorrow," is essential reading for everyone in, around, or from Cleveland. Activists and residents in other cities will also find much to think about in the history and stories told here. Powerful.
I'm using this review space to save my own notes and quotes from the book.
". . . I worked with student once and I asked her what her perceptions were of the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center, and her response to me was, 'I wish my school looks that nice.' The fact is that we get our return on investment. And this country has prioritized investing in the incarceration of people which is why we are the number 1 incarcerator of all people in the world. Now if we invested in education and valued it the way that we value incarceration, things would be very different." --Shakyra Diaz, policy manager, Ohio ACLU, at a City Club Youth Forum, Jan. 14, 2015
"I have some white friends who are speechless, and they don't do anything but listen to my pain. You don't have to do anything with it, but be present. To be present for somebody's suffering without having to feel like you have to do anything with it." --Morris Ervin, ambassador of culture at Open Doors Academy, "Healing Racial Injustices Using Restorative Practices," oral history told to Diana Sette.
"I am almost always the only Asian at meetings or protests. Supportive white people are doing their part, actively trying to understand their privilege and working to make other white people understand. How do I partake? I do not have white privilege. I have something we don't have words for. Maybe it's non-black privilege. When I speak to white people, I feel as if I bring discomfort when I discuss my privilege. If they are trying to dismantle white supremacy, aren't I a victim? Am I one of them? In my interactions with black activists, I am not sure how I am perceived. Am I part of the enemy? I would like to call myself an ally." --Jeanne Li, "I'm Yellow. I'm in Cleveland: What Now?"
"I was talking to a civil rights lawyer. This was just last week. My fresh cynicism brewed from recent events must have sloshed onto our conversation, because he played a consolation card. He offered that in his law office, they have a motto about pushing for social change: 'relentless incrementalism." . . . It's a good phrase for us Clevelanders. Words we should keep around, rolled up in our pockets. Or better yet, tattooed on our necks, a place of pride, the script as looping and gothic as a headbanger's album cover. That way, when one Clevelander sees another, we'll both spot it, relentless incrementalism, that promise to keeping inching our gaze back as a way of edging forward." --Kyle Swenson, "This is What a Cleveland Story Sounds Like in 2015"
Brad Masi, "Carl Stokes and the Freeway Fights," gives a vivid description of what the east side and eastern suburbs would look like now if the Clark Freeway had gone through (pp. 184-185).
"We had a scientific formula for preparing protests, movements and initiatives." 1. information and research 2. education 3. mobilization 4. presentation of our findings 5. negotiation 6. resolution 7. reconciliation "If negotiations fail or are blocked, demonstration. The demonstration is not an end in itself, but a means toward something higher, the demonstration is designed to bring negotiation, and the negotiations are designed to bring resolution and after that, reconciliation. Now I can say that whenever we followed that formula, we won. When we didn't follow it, we often lost." --Rev. Otis Moss II, "The Unfinished Business of Race," from a City Club forum with Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, Dec. 12, 2014.
"You do not get to tell any victim of any atrocity or any injustice, 'enough now.' Especially about slavery. Slavery is the great over-discussed, under-discussed topic. We have not discussed it yet. We have not. We have not had that discussion. . . .
"The problem with looking at racism or injustice as moral failure is that all you have to be is not immoral. All you just have to be is not racist. The problem with that is non-racism and anti-racism are totally different things. Non-racism, what you are doing is elevating passivity to a moral value. We respond to a lot of injustices that way. Say we substitute racism for child abuse. A non-child-abuse world, 'I do not do it.' 'I did not vote for somebody who did it.' 'I do not buy books about it.' 'I am not an abuser.' Go back to racism, 'I did not vote for a racist.' 'I did not own slaves.' 'I am not from the South.' 'I am not burning any crosses.' We have come to a point where our whole series of non-actions have become legitimate. We have legitimized the act of doing nothing." --Marlon James, Anisfield-Wolf Award winning novelst, Sept. 11, 2015.
". . . we can't just be color blind. That's not enough. We have to be color brave. . . . We have to be willing to have proactive conversations about race with honesty and understanding and courage." --Mellody Hobson, board chair of DreamWorks Animation, quoted by Akram Boutros, CEO of MetroHealth, at Cleveland YWCA's 2015 "It's Time to Talk" event.
"How do we change? I have read that polio was eradicated. It was a threat to all and swift action managed the issue quickly. Why don't we treat this racial oppression like polio and create a vaccine that leverages our schools, our government, all our community for the greater cause of creating a more humane America that will create a more humane global influence. Not one that is rooted in a mirror that reflects neighborhood privilege based on subjective taxes, but one that serves all and sees the value of all rooted in humanity and not simply economic privilege." --P. Nasib Whitt, Enlightenment Consulting Group, "See Me Fully"
"We are still chattle, still are looked over on the selling block. It is why our men gravitate to corners, its genetic memory. We await the 'good news' as watch each other get bought and sold. Being bought is a prison sentence, and being sold is a murdering. Whether by our own hand, or by the had of the authorities. The ground remembers. . . .
"If I was in my nephews lives they would not be any safer. What will make them safe? When white people demand that white cops stop killing them. No marches, No posts on social media, No speeches--you have to confront it face to face. White people will have to put their bodies in between the murdering police and us. White people will have to put their bodies on the line anytime they see a black person being detained by police. This is the only determent. It is an ugly truth. . . .
"This is not about belief, this is about a value system that has proven to be a sliding scale--one is white, the other is not. And it will not be moved to stop by song, or by post, or by march. It will be a question of you saying to your American brother--This man is a human being, and if you are going to kill him because he is black, then you have to kill me too.
"This woman is a human being, and if you are going to kill her, you will have to kill me.
"This queer person is a human being, and if you are going to kill them, you will have to kill me.
"This person is a latino, and if you are going to kill them, you will have to kill me." --RA Washington, writer, editor, publisher, "Fire This Time: On Grief from a Poet Wanted Dead"
I wanted to take a red pen to many of the pages, and I didn't quite feel like there was a coherent arc or through-line to the collection (aside from, you know, race in Cleveland), but most of the individual pieces were fascinating in their own rights and I'm glad that they were collected together here.