Ralph Ellison

Recent Articles

The Good Wife Works – On race and culture

  “There are no ni**ers here. The people here, they still have their self-respect, their pride.” Richard Pryor (1940-2005) 


There is only the Human Race; there is no legitimacy to “race” based on adaptations of human hair and skin color to geography and climate. At a recent discussion in a Black student group at a local college the talk revolved around how our surface variations, even height and weight (too much? Not enough?) and dress, can and are unfairly used to judge our worth. Whether you’re a redhead in Iceland and hence the descendent of slaves, or a mestizo of mixed blood in South America, or the son of a U.S. soldier and a Vietnamese mother, or a Chechen despised by a Russian, or born to the lower caste in India, the distinguishing marks of your birth can be used against you. Continue Reading →

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The Good Wife Works – On happiness and its enemies


“Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness.” (from a Selby Ave. storefront)


We have the keys to happiness within us: our brain. Sex and exercise, learning and curiosity are the keys. Curiosity and novelty alleviate boredom. These stimulate the brain’s reward centers. Continue Reading →

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The Good Wife Works – Rappers bite, but is it right?

I vow never to go back to a Spoken Word event again. The “n” word, H. Colbert wrote, “Is the most harmful word in the English language to describe African Americans.” Like a poke in the eye, the “f” word hurts. Perhaps that’s the point, like an exclamation point. “If it didn’t annoy me, what was the point?” Pulitzer prize-winner Eugene Robinson said. “Clever?” he said. Continue Reading →

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Designer poverty: Come to the Twin Cities — we do it right!




By Don Allen

Guest Commentator


There is something to be said about organizations, politicians and community spokespersons who become ingrained in the process of using humans as a way to gain access for nonprofit funding and dismissing the notion of helping their cash crop to become stable and acquire some type of standardized normalcy. “Dependencies” within most Twin Cities social service agencies are set up deliberately; if someone finds what they are looking for, the “success” is ultimately bad for business. Author Ralph Ellison wrote, “All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried telling me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory” (Invisible Man). In the Twin Cities, if you are poor, homeless, angry, drunk, Black, Native American, Somali, or suffering from some form of diversity, you are the foundational backbone of a multibillion-dollar business that survives on misery and the opportunity to study you and your life circumstances, meeting to talk about the challenges while virtually solving nothing. Continue Reading →

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When times get tough, you drastically adjust


There’s a great deal to be said for calling your own shots. It’s a very attractive aspect of professionally freelancing, not having to punch in and out at the

time clock. However, as Jackson Browne sang, “It ain’t bad work if you can get it. But, you gotta make it stick.”

Michael B. Johnson, self-styled man of multiple means, makes it stick. Like glue. Continue Reading →

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