Beliefnet
Debra J. Dickerson will blog for Beliefnet during the week of May 16, 2005, taking up where Swami Uptown left off. Dickerson is an award-winning essayist and author who writes about race, gender, and poverty in publications such as Beliefnet, The Washington Monthly, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, The Village Voice, The Nation, The New Republic, Vibe, Essence, and more. A former Salon columnist and senior editor at US News and World Report, Dickerson won the New York Association of Black Journalists' first place award for personal commentary in 1999. Her 2000 memoir, "An American Story," was a New York Times Notable Book. Her second book, "The End of Blackness" was published in January 2004 and is now in its third printing.

Marriage Is Thicker than Water


The New York Times reports:

JUST because Karl Decker Hayes was a cruel husband doesn't mean he should die alone. So concluded his ex-wife, Millie Hayes, 67, an antiques shop owner in Monroe, La., who recalled living with a man so controlling he picked out her car and her clothes, and checked the walls for smudges after she cleaned house. They divorced in 1998.

"I despised what he had done to me," said Ms. Hayes, who, despite it all, became her ex-husband's caregiver when he developed Alzheimer's three years ago. "There is nobody else."

Her efforts are part of an emerging theme as the country ages.

In scenes exhibiting a vivid range of feelings - acrimony, compassion, rekindled love, abiding friendship - sick and dying Americans are being cared for by former spouses.
My mom's a real trendsetter. She did this back in 1977. My father was hospitalized with lung cancer for five strained, bitter years after she left him. To put it mildly, he was a tyrant. But she stunned me the other day by casually mentioning that, brought low by his ill health, he confessed to her that because of his behavior, there was no one to take care of him. She'd told him she was going to take care of him once he left the hospital. She wasn't just saying it to comfort him. She actually meant it. When I seemed stunned, she just said, "Six kids and thirty years together, Debbie. That's... something."

Ok. My mom is a saint. She is one of those rare Christians who make me envious of their faith because of its affect on her.

But my ex? Take your vitamins, that's all I can say.

Past Her Prime


A press release annouces:

"FORMER BLACK PANTHER CHALLENGES CONFEDERATE ESTABLISHMENT IN BID FOR MAYOR OF BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA

"Elaine Brown to hold a press conference and officially open her campaign headquarters on May 19 at 10:00 a.m.

"In an effort to become the first black and first woman mayor of the predominantly-black port city of Brunswick, Georgia, Elaine Brown, author and former chairman of the Black Panther Party, will formally announce her candidacy on May 19th -- the birthday of Malcolm X -- at 10:00 a.m. at her campaign headquarters at 2802 Altama Avenue in Brunswick.

"Under the campaign slogan "Empowering the People! Sharing the Wealth!" Brown says she wants to displace "the Confederate establishment" as much as the present administration wants to displace the black population of Brunswick."

I hope she loses.

There was a time in the mid-90s while a law student that I stood in line for 2 hours in the Cambridge cold to hear this woman speak. It was events like hearing her that forced me farther and farther from the black left. Not to the right, just away from the moribund black left that she typifies: paranoid, racist, hate-filled, morally ossified, self-hating expressed as militance, separatist, divisive (a word I normally attack as a ruse for silencing minorities, but it fits here). Basically dumb, but the worst kind: stupidity that thinks it's genius. She doesn't love black people so much as she hates whites. She'd step right past a hungry black kid to harangue a rich white man.

Last year, the two of us participated in a radio debate, or at least I did. I talked about the reasons affirmative action was problematic and what alternatives might look like. I talked about the need to move from organizing around whites' menial sins (e.g. purse clutching, security guard eyeballing) to an inward focus geared toward tangible improvement of the black community, like charter schools and security patrols. What she did was list names that took the place of ideas: "You're just another Clarence Thomas, Stanley Crouch, Armstrong Williams, house nigger."

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