“Dirty Linen” (click on “Essays and Reviews” on the panel at the top of this page) is something I wrote several years back and then updated for publication in Ecelectica (where all the essays on this blog, so far, were originally published). It’s the longest and most ambitious essay I’ve written. Sadly, it still seems relevant, and that’s why I’m including it here halfway through Black History month.
The idea for the piece was originally generated out of the O.J. Simpson trial, but that was just the launching point for my thoughts and feelings on the subject. I think it’s difficult to gain a perspective, any real objectivity, on a phenomenon as deeply embedded in our social fabric as is “race” (you’ll understand why I insist on the quotation marks if you read the essay). It’s like trying to examine the back of your own head. I made an attempt to do so in this piece not because I am any more free of this social pathogen than anyone else but because the subject has preoccupied me for as long as I can remember. Writing is largely a matter of exorcising old demons and realizing what frequently lies below the level of consciousness. If you’re lucky, you find readers who share your possessions and enjoy or at least are willing to suffer through the birthing of those realizations. Hopefully, that will be you.