The Thunder and Gold of Horses Running Free

We have used horses to do our work, fight our battles, race for us, carry us. It is the few that still run wild, though, that send a thrill down our spines. We have no claim on them, yet a long and regrettable history has placed us in a position where we must “manage” them. Now, like newlyweds, we have to learn how to be part of their lives without changing who they are.

Black Conservatives Explain It All! or Princes and Powers 2.0

One may reasonably disagree with the views of Black people who attended the recent Old Parkland Conference this month in Dallas. But it is the height of intellectual, cultural, and political dishonesty and irresponsibility to call these people Uncle Toms or sellouts. They can only be understood as part of a Black tradition of thought, the rise of new ideological descendants of Booker T. Washington.

The Clockwork Orgasm

Any minute now, all this technology will be mass-produced and affordable, transforming what are now sex dolls with AI heads atop their silicone bodies into the sex robots of science fiction, so sophisticated they are easy to mistake for a human. And then? Will men still bother with real women? Or will they prefer a projected fantasy to a more demanding reality?

Jack Higgins, Good Germans, and the Problem of Sympathy in Fiction

“Sympathy” in narrative usually means something more like “complex interest” than “pity.” The goal is (often but not always) to make characters as human as possible, within constraints of form, so audiences will find them meaningful. This requires treating characters with respect, at least to the point of trying to understand them, even if they are crooks, sadists, torturers, murderers, or Nazis. But if a narrative dramatizes very well, it risks justifying bad people or making us feel we “understand” or “identify with” them. This too is sometimes called “sympathy”—though it is more like empathy—for the devil.

Memorials on the Move

The controversy surrounding the Confederate Memorial’s June 2017 removal from Forest Park once again placed St. Louis squarely within a movement that encompassed dozens of communities around the nation. As these disparate outcomes demonstrate, such campaigns manifested not only as binary debates over whether contested monuments should remain visible, but also where they might properly be located and how they might be repurposed to convey historical lessons about the relationship between symbolic landscapes and larger systems of racial oppression.

Claiming the Past, Possessing the Park

As the aesthetics of the Confederate Memorial at St. Louis’s Forest Park laid claim to a particular narrative about the Civil War, written and visual evidence reveals how Confederate sympathizers, from the initial dedication of the monument to subsequent celebrations, utilized highly visible rituals to assert control over the site and its surroundings. It was through such events—along with news coverage of them—that Confederate boosters and the media alike defined a racialized sense of ownership over an obelisk in the center of a public park. The monument was one and the same an assertion of power over history and city space.

The View from the Eads Bridge

From its 1874 opening through the 1980s, when East St. Louis became equated with Blackness and crime, the Eads Bridge became an experimental zone, where racist geographic imaginations clashed with liberal fantasies of multiculturalism. On the Eads Bridge, we see the apparatus of hegemony at work, trying to fit all the bridge represents into the nation’s founding myths.