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Oct
8
2007

Let’s get something out of the way early on: I’m not a blogger.

I’m a columnist with better tools. I associate the “b-word” with hotheads who are long on opinions but short on facts, or with hopelessly self-absorbed writers. Either way, they’re not my kind of people.

I got my first shot at online column writing a few years ago at blackamericaweb. Now I have been offered the opportunity to write on this site.

A column is a piece of real estate that I rent. We can meet here every week – on Monday – and I will tell you what I think about people and issues in the news, and also chat about my passions and peeves. This isn’t an entirely new thing for me. Nine years ago I was offered job at the local newspaper in Newport News, my fourth daily since 1980, and I wrote a weekly op-ed column. My first regular column began in the early 1990s at a New Jersey daily near Philadelphia.

Clarence Thomas secured my spot. That’s right. I was so infuriated with the Supreme Court nominee’s behavior I spit out 750 words of rage in an op-ed. The editor invited me write my opinion regularly. So thanks, Justice Thomas.

I love American history, and my adopted home here in Hampton Roads, Va., is mineral rich: English America began here, with all due respect to the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. English settlers sailed into Hampton Roads harbor and settled Jamestown 400 years ago this year.

Then, 20 Africans from Angola arrived in Jamestown in 1619, 15 months before those New England pilgrims. We’re still trying to verify whether those Africans were enslaved or indentured, the latter category a sort of house arrest – you had to earn your way to freedom and many didn’t. These African’s condition is one of those rich, contradictory American stories I like exploring.

My birthplace is New York City and I grew up in Brooklyn. I left New York in 1984 and work took me Westchester, a New York City suburb, then South Jersey, then Gary, Ind., and now Virginia, where after old-school newspaper work, then a stint as an online newspaper editor, I’m training a new generation of journalists at Hampton University, a top-flight American university and legendary historically black college.

Hampton Institute was the place Booker T. Washington walked 500 miles from West Virginia to get an education, then he moved on and established Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. And Hampton was where Robert S. Abbott learned printing then later published the Chicago Defender, the newspaper that encouraged a mass migration of Southern blacks to Northern cities.

Now Hampton students and distinguished faculty launch satellites with regional neighbor NASA Langley Research Center, make breakthroughs in cancer treatment, or flood the zone with talented media professionals.

As a columnist, I’ll wrestle with African-American duality, that double-consciousness W.E.B. DuBois – Booker T.’s ideological rival – defined in his book The Souls of Black Folks. It’s my double consciousness kicking in; I expand and contract.

My passions include jazz and rhythm & blues, movies that tell good stories like the books that usually inspire them, all kinds of ball and or stick sports, and travel. I’m a big fan of public transportation so my peeves include regions, like mine, that stubbornly resist moving more masses of people, and generally, people with closed minds and stony hearts.

We have a lot to talk about, war – in Iraq, and on urban streets, a presidential election next year, our struggles to live better, our evolving American culture. We’ll talk, listen, maybe fuss and fight, and possibly share some laughs.

I was born near one great deep water harbor – New York – and I now live near another, Hampton Roads, a watery street wide enough to house the world’s largest navy, the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. I love my adopted home and look forward to telling you what I see and whatever else is on my mind.

Just don’t call me a blogger, Ok?

Share  Posted by Wayne Dawkins at 8:18 AM | Permalink

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