Before I explore where this blog can go, it’s important for me to acknowledge the lessons my history has taught me and explain why I believe what I believe.
Activism and race relations are a part of my family history. My grandfather and late father’s work within the racial reconciliation movements of the Mississippi South during my childhood years ensured that the complex issues of race and equity were at the forefront of my early development.
They continue to serve as the lens through which I see and understand of the world.
Despite this rich family history of involvement in civil rights, I never thought activism would be a meaningful part of my adult life—until a controversial series of encounters during my final semester of law school at U.Va.
My student experience, which involved a complaint of racial profiling by campus police, subsequent reversal of that complaint due to pressure from a rogue FBI agent, and inevitable University disciplinary charges, was covered extensively by the news media, none of whom were aware of this FBI agent’s surreptitious involvement and coercive tactics. As a consequence of the controversy, my personal and professional reputation was ruined, I lost the law firm job I had secured, and I did not participate in the Law School’s 2011 commencement exercises.
Since this experience, I have worked to restore my reputation and, much more importantly, share the truth about what happened to me, namely the FBI agent’s coercion which, until 2017, had been unknown to the public. I authored pieces that not only shared the full set of facts surrounding my experience, but also focused on the important larger social and institutional issues my experience highlighted.
My experience with campus police and the FBI provided me with a deeply-personal illustration of the measures powerful institutions will take to protect themselves from racially-charged accusations or challenges. It was a traumatic learning experience for someone who, despite having been raised by interracial parents in the deep south, had never personally experienced the potential consequences of speaking truth to power.
Open and honest dialogue about individual and institutionalized racial bias is vital to true activism and change. My experience provides and abundantly-clear real-world example of this truth.
This is how my story began. I’m looking forward to discovering where this journey takes me.