On Racism and Growing up in the American South

Growing up in the South, you learn from an early age about racism. Our public schools taught from books that The Daughters of the Confederacy bought for schools. Eventually, we read books that actually told some truth.

I remember reading about the Civil Rights movement and its leaders.  I remember learning details about Martin Luther King, Jr.  I remember feeling shame to know he was assassinated in my home state of Tennessee.

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New Facts (a prose poem)

History is collective memory, and it’s always subject to correction.

It’s written by winners, whether daughters of despots or democrats. They build bronze statues that inform us of what happened, who’s calling the shots, who owns the space you occupy.

As the city convulses, an ex-mayor’s monument is fractured, beat to the ground. Our historical texts must be rewritten, newspaper editors must be removed, the revolution must be televised and live streamed to your social media feeds, and you must forget what you’ve learned because

there are new facts.

(Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash)

Book Review: In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck

I’ve always been a big John Steinbeck fan. So I was pretty excited when I picked up In Dubious Battle from my library. It’s not one of Steinbeck’s most famous books, but it’s written with the same energy and zeal of all the other books I love by him. 

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Today’s quote – a reminder from James Baldwin on why history matters

“People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” – commonly attributed to James Baldwin. As the protests have continued lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of history. Some people are acting like Black Lives Matter has come out of nowhere, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

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You Built Me Palaces out of Paragraphs

Most of our country has been in some form of quarantine or social distancing for about three and a half months.  I was sent home from work on March 5 because I had a sneeze. Fear was already high in the Philadelphia area. Those first eight days, I had some freedom – I still went to teach at religious school the following Sunday and Wednesday in New Jersey.  I had no idea that a few days later, my entire office would be sent home, and our state would put in place a stay-at-home order.

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Among the Tombstones (a photo)

This picture was taken by Rachel (who’s an amazing photographer, by the way) during a trip we took to Sleepy Hollow, New York. That was an incredible trip. We took tons of pictures, but my favorites were from the old cemetery, where we spent at least an hour or so wandering around.

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What is America?

The funny thing about being an American is that, when I was growing up, we used to ask each other as kids, “Where are you from?” We didn’t mean what neighborhood; we meant what country. I would say, “I’m Italian,” because my family has Italian ancestry.

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Southern Gothic

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. I’m a big fan of podcasts, though I don’t binge-listen to them much because I’m usually devouring books.

My favorite podcasts are offbeat and fictional dramas, such as Welcome to Night Vale, Alice Isn’t Dead, and Rabbits. About a year ago, I also listened to a few episodes of a history podcast called Southern Gothic.

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