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  • Melanie S. Morrison, Ph.D., M.Div., is a white woman passionate about racial justice. She is founder and Executive Director of Allies for Change, a network of anti-oppression educators based in Michigan. For the past 20 years, she has led Doing Our Own Work, an intensive anti-racism program for white people who seek to deepen their commitment to confronting racism and white privilege. She believes it is possible to grow ever more aware of the reality of injustice without surrendering our capacity for compassion, joy, and hope. She is working on a new book with the working title Murder on Shades Mountain: The Legal Lynching of Willie Peterson and the Struggle for Racial Justice in Jim Crow Birmingham.
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Protests Don’ts and Do’s

“How does standing on a bridge yelling about police violence in Des Moines help Black folks in Baltimore?” “Okay, this is all well and good, but what are the next steps? When are we going to take action?” “It’s hypocritical for folks who’ve never said or done anything about police brutality before to suddenly show … Continue reading

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12 rules (oops, 13) for maintaining a racially hostile environment at your institution*:  

Use phrases like “we’re working on diversity.” Use them often and in as many public venues as you can. (Shake your head sadly, for emphasis, when you do.) Never count out loud, in public space, the actual number of people of color who are part of your administration or faculty. (Doing so is risky. The … Continue reading

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Would the Real “Sooner” Please Stand

It’s right to have shuttered the Sigma Alpha Epsilon House and expelled two students involved in last week’s raucous—joyous, even—celebration of white supremacy on a fraternity bus. But it’s right for one reason and not for another. The reason it’s right has to do with environment, which is different than the logic of punishment (that’s … Continue reading

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Dear North Miami Beach Police: #UseMeInstead

Last week, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and came upon a photo of a clergy colleague in her clerical collar. She had posted the photo to an event called “North Miami Beach Police, use our pictures for your target practice.” I had heard about how the North Miami Beach Police Department has been … Continue reading

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I Took My Kids to the Protest

“Children don’t belong at protests.” I’ve heard many perspectives on this issue in the years I’ve hovered around activist spaces. They all bounced around in my mind as I debated whether to take my own kids (ages 6 and 4) to one of the Des Moines protests after Darren Wilson was declared a free man … Continue reading

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What Would Rosa Parks Say (WWRPS)?

The temptation to comment on the violence in Ferguson is almost irresistible. It doesn’t matter if we’re condemning it, worrying about it, lamenting it. We feel the need to say something about it while commenting on Ferguson’s resistance. Most of us should resist this temptation mightily. When Detroit burned in 1967, “the mother of the movement,” … Continue reading

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Life Imitating Art

I find it highly ironic that the number one movie in the country right now is about an oppressed people that rise up in revolt against their government, attempting to destroy their capital, and rioting against the establishment that has forced them to live in poverty, to struggle for their lives against a police state … Continue reading

Whose Violence?

The Grand Jury verdict will be announced today. Almost all of the reporting in the media keeps reiterating the message that a failure to indict will likely result in “violence.” Keeps claiming that “violence” is what everyone is bracing for and hoping against. Let us remember that this is not a neutral description. And let’s repeatedly ask: whose … Continue reading

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The Feathers Came to My House . . .

Here’s something we do during the winter months: have elementary kids make construction paper menorahs. In stronger curriculums we do this while teaching them some history of the Jewish people and something about Jewish traditions. Here’s something we don’t do: have these kids make construction paper yarmulkes to wear home. Now some of us may … Continue reading

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What Did You Say About Race Today?

We’re holding our breath. At least, I’m holding mine. Any minute the jury will announce its verdict on whether or not Darren Wilson will be tried for killing Michael Brown. As we wait, let us not forget what a verdict actually is in this country: something that has long had little to do with whether justice has … Continue reading

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