“Don’t Live Below 16 Mile Road”: A View of Detroit

We were supposed to sit with the Please Talk With Me About Race sign in a Detroit park. Michigan was our last stop on this leg of the Meet Me Halfway book tour and Detroit is the second most segregated city (or sometimes first, trading places with Milwaukee in any given year), so taking the […]

Attempting to Sleep in Benton Harbor

We are in Benton Harbor, Michigan, staying overnight in a motel to recoup enough energy to make it back to Milwaukee in the morning. I want to tell you about Cleveland, about Detroit and Ann Arbor. I want to tell you about Lucy and Lawrence, whom we met on the streets of Ann Arbor. There […]

They Didn’t Hang Around to Find Out

Here’s a brief portion of the lively conversation we had at Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights, just outside of Cleveland. This segment deals with the use of low school test scores as coded justification for racism and with the white flight that happened in one San Diego neighborhood that had nothing to do with schools. […]

Building That Rocket Ship

A few days ago, I shared a post about being out in front of the Nets arena in Brooklyn with the Please Talk With Me About Race sign. After an intense conversation with Donald and Crystal, two African American young adults, about a range of topics — media framing of protests, racial discrimination in criminal […]

Boston and the Bitter Truth

During the follow-up discussion at my Meet Me Halfway reading at the Mattapan branch of the Boston Public Library yesterday, one of the audience members suggested that we take the Please Talk With Me About Race sign to Boston Common. It was a beautiful afternoon to sit in downtown Boston’s central park and the location […]

Shooting for the Moon

Yesterday Keren and I sat in the sun outside the Barclays Center, the Nets arena in a busy corridor of Brooklyn. We positioned the “Please Talk With Me About Race” sign to face into the horseshoe of benches just outside the Barclays/Atlantic Avenue subway station. As in the other places we’ve used the sign, it […]

One Simple Thing About Baltimore

Keren and I were driving through Brooklyn yesterday, on our way from Philadelphia to the friend’s house we’re staying at in New York. Or, I should say, Keren was driving and I was trying to get the maps app on my phone (we’ve nicknamed her automated personality “Coco,” as in “co-co-pilot”) to give us a […]

Like Learning a Foreign Language

I found my social activist soulmates in Pittsburgh: What’s Up?! Pittsburgh, a group of white activists who invite racial dialogue on the street by being “sign holders, stranger talkers, conversation openers, and spectacle makers.” They have been doing actions similar to the ones Keren and I have been doing with our “Talk With Me About […]

Peer Review

Keren and I spent two hours on the Oval — a central grassy area on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus — with the “Please Talk With Me About Race” sign. It was so cold, with gray skies and a stiff wind, but we are determined to do our “job” on this tour. Although […]

The Utopian and the Subversive Speaker

I was confused for a moment, back in college Sociology 101, when the professor referred to an “ideal type.” “Ideal” in common parlance, of course, means “the best possible.” But in social science it means “the truest example” of a phenomenon. “Ideal” in this case doesn’t necessarily mean a good thing. In the past couple […]