Danny Duncan Collum, a Sojourners contributing writer, teaches writing at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. He is the author of the novel White Boy.
Posts By This Author
"Right" Again, FYI
The cultural influence of the Far Right
We're not in Kansas Anymore
Secure in its control of the material means of production, the American Right has always taken the lead in the exploration of underlying, non-material, cultural factors in public life.
Questions of Taste (and Power)
Pat Buchanan's terror campaign in the Republican primaries has weakened and disoriented George Bush, and I can't say I'm sorry. It has also forced debate about the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) back into the headlines--on the most skewed and reactionary of terms. Never mind that Buchanan's homophobic NEA attack ads were themselves the sleaziest things seen on broadcast TV in this decade. The issue is back out in the arena.
Bush reacted by firing NEA chief John Frohnmayer. His party chairman, Richard Bond, suggested publicly that the government should "get out of this business" of deciding "what is art."
By the time you read this, Buchanan may well have been laid quietly to rest--and the NEA issue with him--for this year. But given Buchanan's success, it is almost certain to return for as long as we have a public arts agency.
Art subsidies do involve some decisions about what is art. But they also involve judgments about what art is necessary or worthy, and, perhaps most important, about who decides. It's a complicated and problematic issue, and one that requires more than 30 second's (or even one page's) worth of thinking. But here goes...
Rooting for a New America
About Oliver Stone
America's Secret History
As this is written, the media controversy surrounding Oliver Stone's film JFK is reaching a fever pitch.
Vox Pop Rocks Charts
Billboard and music sales
Fascism With a Facelift
There's good news and bad news in the results of the Louisiana gubernatorial run-off on November 16.
A Declaration of Principles
Pop culture is politics...and politics is pop culture
When Going Live Spreads Lies
A Politics of Attitude
The importance of pop culture on social change. And Oprah
... Because He Made So Many Of Them
Fox TV and the new season of The Simpsons
Sisters In Arms
A female hero
A Decade of Penance
Excess of lawyers on TV
Blowing Against the Wind
The Rightists are wrong
English as a Second Lyric
Mexican and Mexican-American culture.
Trials and Tribalizations
"The retribalization of America"
The Battle Hymn of History
On The Civil War
Copyrights and Copylefts
At the Lotus offices
Back to Basics
I am a socialiast...but what does that mean?
An Interest In Equality
FROM THE TIME when slaveholder Thomas Jefferson failed to do the right thing at Monticello, on down to the very present, the relationship between white dissident movements and black America has been a tangled, complex, and often problematic one. Through the centuries of the American story, black interests have been consistent. But white interests have fluctuated, and white support for black aspirations has fluctuated with them. The history of these relationships has been especially shifty due to the very different interests of the different sorts of white people who have, at different times, either sought, or found themselves in, alliance with black America.
We, of all colors and classes, are inheritors of that history, and of its contradictions. Most white readers of this magazine will locate their forebears in that history of relationship and struggle in the historical stream epitomized by the white abolitionists of the mid-19th century. The abolitionists comprised a largely educated and affluent movement heavily concentrated in America's Northeast quadrant. Later successors of the white abolitionists were found among the Northern liberal whites who went south in support of the black freedom movement of the 1960s.
In both historical instances, relatively privileged whites publicly identified themselves with the defense of African-American human rights. This defense was stated in terms of detached moral judgment, or idealism, or conscience, to coin a catch phrase. These two interracial episodes, abolitionism and the civil rights movement, represent the historical ground that we white folks in the Christian peace and justice movement tend to claim as our precedents and to hold up as high-water marks in the development of a religiously rooted movement for social change in America. They comprise the grid through which we conceive politics, race, history, and our places in them.