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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Salon's Deborah Dickerson: Because we can't get enough of her

Just can't make this up

Suggested by a reader.....

Don't be black on my account
A black mother's gift to her biracial children.

By Debra J. Dickerson

March 5, 2007 | Out of the blue last week my son, who is 5, asked me if I'd ever been "burned." I thought he was referring to the tattoos that I always tell him and his sister are boo-boos (how else to justify voluntary scarring when I won't even let them use a butter knife?), so I repeated my usual lie and added that "Mommy would never play with fire." I thought this was a safety discussion. He looked confused.

"Oh. I thought that was why you were brown."

My biracial, white-looking baby is discovering race.

. . .

Like most kids, mine love to "give me five" to signal any sort of triumph. Last night, I realized that I'd stifled a reflexive impulse to teach them part of the high-five -- "on the black hand side." Back in the militant '60s and early '70s when I was a kid, black men would often slap each other five, then flip their hands over and do it again on "the black hand side" or "the black man's side." Now it's rarely done and only then as kitsch, but what explains my hesitance, my refusal, to initiate my children into the club when this relic of my identity formation naturally surfaced? As I thought about that, all at once it hit me that I never "talk black" with my kids either. None of the "used ta coulds" and "mighta woulds" and "he be's" that I slip into so comfortably with my Miss'ippi mama and relatives back home. Without realizing it, I had made Chez Debra Ebonics-free when the kids were in earshot, even though my bilingualism has been the key to my mainstream success. So why wasn't I teaching them to be bilingual? Why was I refusing them their ghetto pass?

If I'm honest, I know why. It's because I know they're not black. I am but they're not. They're biracial.

I lived blackness. All they can do is study and perform blackness. My parents were Mississippi sharecroppers who became part of the Great Migration north. My great-grandfather, who lived well past 100 and was still kicking when I was a child, had been born a slave. His son, my grandfather, got a "Klan escort" out of Mississippi. I saw "Whites only" signs when we went visiting down south and remembered white cops coming to my A'int Mazelle's to "urge" her to teach her kin from up north in St. Louis "how to behave." Clueless, I hadn't yielded my place in line to whites at the country store. At my own home in Missouri I knew not to enter South St. Louis after dark, and I grew up sharing my World War II combat veteran father's bitterness at the racism of the Marine Corps. Segregation made black culture pervasive in our lives; the same oppression that so limited our options gave us all a common frame of reference. My kids can only study that in books.


- posted by Jim in LA