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Tag: Leonard Pitts Jr.


Leonard Pitts Jr. at the convention

We’re running a column by Leonard Pitts Jr. in today’s print edition. He also moved this bonus column, which we’re posting for our online readers.

Walking the gauntlet in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — To reach the Convention Center, you must first walk the gauntlet of dead baby parts.

It’s one of the newer and more gruesome tactics in the fight over reproductive choice, protesters hoisting large color placards depicting aborted fetuses torn in chunks as a group of men preaches an unending sermon on the evils of abortion. As rhetorical tactics go, it is a bludgeon.

The street preachers have other things on their minds, too: Muslims are bad, homosexuals are worse, and if you vote Democrat, you’re going to hell in the fast lane. Also, if you don’t believe as they do, then you don’t know Jesus like they know Jesus.

But always, they return to the medical procedure they deem child murder.
Most people walking to various functions in the Democratic National Convention ignore them. Some don’t. Read more »


Leonard Pitts shines light on father-son relationships

In this interview with the Detroit Free Press, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. discusses his first novel, “Before I Forget.”

By Cassandra Spratling
Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — For 16 years, columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. has come into America’s homes, sharing what he thinks about just about everything. Politics. Parenting. People. Race. His work is recognized across the world, and he won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for his nationally syndicated Miami Herald column, which is distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service and runs in 250 newspapers.

But column-writing wasn’t his aim when he graduated from the University of Southern California in 1977. Writing novels was what he wanted to do. Pitts, 52, accomplished that goal last year with the release of “Before I Forget” (Bolden, $16).

The Detroit Public Library has chosen Pitts’ first novel to kick off its “Detroit Reads! One Book, One Community Program,” an initiative to get the entire city reading and talking about books. And people will have a lot to talk about after reading this multi-generational story of relationships lost and found between fathers and sons in urban America.

Pitts writes from his home in Bowie, Md. The Detroit Free Press talked with him last week.

Q: What led you to write a novel? Read more »


Pitts wins national award


Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald columnist whose work appears in The News Tribune, has another prestigious award to add to his résumé: the William Allen White Foundation’s National Citation.

Here’s what the Herald had to say:

The annual award, named after influential Kansas editor and publisher William Allen White, honors outstanding journalistic service. Pitts will receive the award Friday at the University of Kansas.

“Leonard Pitts speaks in the tradition of William Allen White as a voice for his community and his country,” said Ann Brill, dean of the university’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. “Both were honored with Pulitzer Prizes in recognition of their words and the impact their editorials have had.” Read more »


Whites-only basketball league?

Here’s a Leonard Pitts Jr. column that might not make it into the print edition (we’re getting slammed with letters to the editor).

Don Lewis thinks white men can’t jump.

What else explains the bizarre statement he issued last week? According to the Chronicle newspaper of Augusta, Ga., Lewis is the commissioner of something called the All-American Basketball Alliance, which hopes to set up shop in 12 cities. “Only players that are natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league,” his statement said.
Yes, we’re talking about a whites-only basketball league.

But Lewis, you’ll be relieved to hear, is no racist. Shucks no, he says. It’s just that white fans are tired of black players (cover your eyes, Kobe, D-Wade, LeBron) who rely on “street-ball” athleticism to make up for their lack of fundamental skills.

The AABA (Affirmative Action Basketball Association?) has an ice cream cone’s chance in the Georgia sun of ever becoming a reality or, if it does, of surviving its first legal challenge. A reader on the Chronicle Web site wonders if the players would play in white robes with or without hoods. But this story, silly as it is, affords a chance to make a serious observation about excellence and expectation. Read more »


Revisiting Sammy Sosa: Cosmetics or self-image?

Last week, I posted a Web-only Leonard Pitts Jr. column about baseball player Sammy Sosa’s startling new skin hue. Here Pitts has a followup in which he responds to criticism of that column.

By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Please indulge me as I answer an e-mail from a guy named Dunbar. It says in part:

“Your column on Sammy Sosa’s skin cream use is off base and sends a wrong message. The issue is the man’s character — not the color of his skin. Your column seemingly assumes he lightens his skin color out of shame and fails to recognize that he may simply be doing it out of vanity or his own sense of personal style. Plenty of fair-skinned people use skin-darkening creams, sun baths, tanning beds for that purpose and the only criticism leveled at them is vanity and stupidity for ignoring skin cancer warnings. The same should hold for Sammy.

“… I think I know what point you are trying to make and that is a laudable one. But your delivery was clumsy and it might come across to some as ’methinks thee doth protest too much.’”

Dear Dunbar:

Thank you for writing. It’s always a treat to receive such a thoughtful dissent. Hope you don’t mind my using your e-mail as a vehicle for revisiting my recent column on Sosa, the once-black former baseball star who now looks like a photo negative of himself, but that piece generated so many missives like yours that I thought doing so might be of value.

I’m intrigued that you “think” you know what point I was trying to make. The fact that you have to guess, that it wasn’t starkly obvious to you, suggests that what we have here is a gulf between life experiences. It brings to mind a parable to the effect that the rabbit and the bear will never agree on how threatening is the dog.

I’m going to assume — I apologize if I’m wrong — that you’re not black. I say that because I’ve not yet encountered a single African-American reader who did not know immediately what my point was. My white readers, though, were more likely to see me as chiding Sosa for what they regarded as a benign cosmetic choice, such as when they color their hair, inject Botox in their faces or, yes, lie under the sun trying to get a tan. From where they sit, it’s the same when a black man lightens his skin. Read more »


Sammy Sosa, a whiter shade of male

Here’s a Web special for readers – a Leonard Pitts Jr. column we weren’t able to get into the print edition this week.

Sosa in 2007
Sosa in 2007

Dear Sammy Sosa:

Are you happy with yourself now? Are you more confident and self-assured? When you look in the mirror, do you like yourself better, now that you are white?

As you know, photos taken of you at an awards show earlier this month have the whole country talking. Last time we saw you, you were a brown man from the Dominican Republic, star slugger for the Chicago Cubs. Now you are white, facing the camera with a complexion strikingly reminiscent of Dracula’s.

Sosa recently
Sosa recently

You claim you’ve been using a skin-softening cream and that it, combined with the bright lights under which the photos were taken, made your face look whiter than it is. Which is an extraordinarily lame excuse. Indeed, if that excuse was a horse, you’d shoot it.

While it is admirably metro-sexual of you to be so concerned with the softness of your skin, I must say: if I slathered something on my face that was supposed to render it tender and it left me looking like the Joker instead, I’d sue. You, on the other hand, are reported to be considering an endorsement deal.

“Skin softening” my fanny. “Skin bleaching” is more like it.

So I want to know if it’s made you happy, being white, if it’s given you what you felt you lacked. Me, I’d have thought you already had the brass ring by both hands: you were a handsome sports hero, had made beaucoup dollars, had the requisite gorgeous wife. What could be missing?

Whiteness, apparently. Read more »