Making Gumbo

Wed, 07 Nov 2018

Ghosts of the Yellow Dog: A Poetic Homage to August Wilson and his Piano Lesson

They rises up

fierce and strong.

They rises up

‘cause it’s been too long.

They rises up

‘cause nobody sings the song

of that terrible wrong.


When they comes back

it’s always at night.

When they comes back

it ain’t for no Halloween fright.

When they comes back

it’s to take away

one of those who stood by

and let them burn like hay.


Yeah you see

when those klu kluxers set that boxcar on fire

some colored mens was locked in thar.

I know some says that stories as flat as a tire.

But I got no reason to give you a scare.

I’m gone tell the truth.

It’s the only way to be fair.


You could hear ‘em…

oh… yes you could.

First just-a banging on that doe…

Then they started to scream and yell.

Sounded awful,

just awful, I’m here to tell.


That fire set off a high bright light.

And the rest of the white people came to see the sight.

But not one would help,

not even when they heard them men yelp.

This was sumpen’ evil,

sumpen’ straight out of hell.

Nobodied even ring the fire bell.


So now…

now they come; yes they do.

And when they come

there’s always a sound

You might think it was a train whistle

Or the howl of a hound.


But oh lord…

when they rises from that bog,

they comes through

a smoky yellow fog.

And all I know…

all I know…

is that it’s the ghosts of the yellow dog.


Published in The Blotter Magazine, November 2018

posted by Rupert  |   12:25 PM  |   0 comments
Sat, 04 Aug 2018

My most surprising read of the summer; DREAD NATION by Justina Ireland.


War Between the States is ended because of the sudden appearance of Zombies; Shamblers.

I was skeptical. Sounded a bit gimmicky. But I was drawn to it by the book cover.  A young black woman dressed, literally to kill; carrying a sickle.

Blacks, you see, “negroes,” are put in schools to be trained to fight, to protect whites from these shamblers. So that young woman on the cover must be the hero of the story.

I was intrigued, but still skeptical when I bought it, and put it on my bookshelf.  Then one day, I picked it up, looked at the cover, opened to the first page, read the first line and two days later was done.

Zombies in the time of confederacy yes, but used as a way to show the psychology of slavery and the bravery and genius of resistance.

A novel that is surprising because it is so subversive. Catching you off guard because it could be a frivolous zombie-novel but isn’t with its insistence in making the reader think about the problems of slaveholding yes, but also the problems created by the whole psychological-walls that a society must build to make it work, and the psychology it leaves lingering in its aftermath.

Subversive by making the reader think about the inner decay of the whole social structure by simply hinting, mentioning, all the groups that get put into the category of “other” to support white supremacy.

Subversive by making the reader think about how unsustainable the “othering” is because humans will always strive for freedom.

Subversive in showing that ever persistent striving for freedom by using small but powerful bits of the language of the modern civil rights struggle: “Survival… by any means necessary.”

Subversive by making the heroine a young, educated, biracial, mocha-skinned African American girl.

All that in an entertaining, exciting, scary, fast-moving story.

Whether you are a reader of young-adult fiction or not, I highly recommend my most surprising read of the summer, the novel DREAD NATION

posted by Rupert  |   1:42 PM  |   0 comments
Wed, 11 Jul 2018

Calling the Cops to Calm One’s Neo-Diversity Anxiety

Lately, and too often, white people have been calling the police on black people who…

…are two men sitting in Starbucks waiting for a friend…

…were children selling bottled water…

…is a graduate student who fell asleep at a table in the graduate residence where she lived…

…is a twelve-year old black boy delivering papers on his new paper route…

If you have been wondering why this has been happening so often, despite the Starbucks approach, the answer is not “unconscious bias.” That overlooks the real problem.

Our history of segregation is haunting us filling people with uncertainty and anxiety about being in proximity to and having to encounter other Americans “not like me.”  The real problem, you see, is that denied, unmanaged and panic-inducing neo-diversity anxiety.

Here’s my full analysis:


posted by Rupert  |   1:28 PM  |   0 comments
Sun, 01 Jul 2018

College E-Advisers: Day-Breakers

There is always good being done in the world. Not covered by “Breaking News”, there is always good work being done by day-breakers.

Monday (June 25th), at UNC-Chapel Hill I spoke to a group of new College E-Advisors. I was with this group for the first day of their training because of my former student Gabrielle Barnes.

College E-Advisers?  Turns out NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill has created and provides finance support (as in salaries, work places and spaces) to a college advising corps. Their job, to help students in high poverty schools learn about how to, and prepare to, get into and go to college. One component of that advising corps is a set of advisers who work with students remotely, through video-chats, email, texting.

I was with this year’s group of new E-Advisors to alert them to the social interaction challenges they must prepare for that comes with electronic communications.  I was there to alert them to the fact that those challenges will happen in a neo-diversity context; that they will be trying to help, mentor young people who are “…not like them,” which might cause the advisors to experience neo-diversity anxieties that might make the social interactions less than productive.

I was there to “…shake them up,” so they would not take too much for granted about how these neo-diverse social interactions might go. They were receptive, after the usual initial shock at my dramatic opening.

I wanted to get their attention because I wanted to help, and I also wanted them to know that I believe their work is important. I wanted them to know I see them as day-breakers, a la the Arna Bontemps poem, “The Day-Breakers.”

“We are not come to wage a strife with swords upon this hill.

It is not wise to waste a life against a stubborn will.

Yet would we die as some have done.

Bearing a way for the rising sun.”

I was honored to be able to work with this group of young day-breakers who want to help other young people get to college and be productive students. We had a good time. In fact, Gabrielle told me that some of the advisers asked about how to invite me to their respective alma maters. See, this is how I “…get in trouble.”

No matter the day, no matter the “Breaking News,” there is always good being done in the world.

Look for your chance to be a part of that good in your social world, in large and small ways. It all matters. Small moves matter.

Dawn is coming.

posted by Rupert  |   10:41 PM  |   0 comments
Tue, 26 Jun 2018

MEM by Bethany C. Morrow

What if you could have a traumatic memory extracted from your memory bank?

What if after having that memory extracted you went on with life as if whatever you had experienced you no longer knew anything about?

Would that be a good thing?  Those are the questions asked and answered in a stunning new novel of speculative fiction by Bethany C. Morrow.

The answers are not easy especially when the memory extracted actually takes on your physical form at the time of the experience. And that physical form of you, that MEM, exists, and must be housed somewhere, for some time, as is the case with our heroine Delores Extract 1.

That idea just adds to the questions about the meaning, power and importance of a memory.

In my teaching about relationships, I show my students that trying to forget a relationship is not the way to go because each relationship experience teaches us something and can make us stronger. Hard as it can be to remember, I believe that.  I know it hard, but I know too that there are always lessons that can strengthen us. The author of MEM believes it too.  At one point she says:

“The extraction [of the memory] abandoned her to be just as she had been before, unprepared to cope with subsequent traumas.”

Insightful and surprising, this is a short (178 page) novel that is piercing; with beautiful writing, a meditative and emotional story, unforgettable (so to speak).

posted by Rupert  |   8:52 PM  |   0 comments
Sun, 03 Jun 2018

Roseanne vs Samantha Bee; It’s all bigotry

Prejudice is not bigotry is not racism.

Prejudice is negative feelings toward members of some group.

Bigotry is the (verbal or non-verbal) behavioral expression of prejudice.

Racism is institutional and organizational patterns (policies) that support and authorize bigotry.


posted by Rupert  |   9:11 PM  |   0 comments
Mon, 07 May 2018

A Course to Save the Soul of America

Right now, in 2018, I am teaching the only college course that can help individuals have productive social interactions in these difficult days of neo-diverse America

You see, today we are living int the difficult days that MLKJr prophesied in 1968 in his last speech when he said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead.”

And at NC State, my Interdependence-and-Race course is the only one in the world that shows people how to understand and analyze what is going on in these difficult days of bold prejudice and bigotry in their everyday interpersonal interactions.

My course is the only one in the world that ask and answers “how is an interpersonal interaction influenced when one or both people are aware that the two people are different from each other by some group identity; race yes, but and/also religion, sex-of-person, bodily-condition, gender-identity, ethnicity, mental-health-condition, age, political-affiliation, etc.”

Turns out, you see, not knowing how to have productive social interactions with a person “not like me” is what is tearing at the soul of America.

#Starbucks #MeToo #Syracuse #Blacklivesmatter

Created by me in 2006, in my unique course I take research and translate it into strategies for productive neo-diverse social interactions that anyone can learn. And I send that knowledge out to the public through my essays and books to reach as many Americans as possible.

From Yavapai College in Arizona came this comment about the impact of my book: -White male, early 20s: “This book has changed the way in which I view people.  I used to make side remarks about people. But I have learned ways to communicate to others as anyone else, to not act differently if there is a person of a different race, and how I can control my social anxiety to allow myself to communicate with all people.”

I was able to create my unique course by combining my scholarship with my past real-world experience of intense intergroup experiences in the U.S. Navy.  During my time, with racial tensions swirling throughout, I was trained as a facilitator of racial dialogues to help the Navy deal with racial problems that sometimes reached the level of riots aboard ships.

I did the work to create the course because I knew that what I would teach would help my students come out of avoidance to engage in authentic social interactions.  I knew that I could create a course that would help young people lift their heads into changed lives by showing how they have made mistakes and how to do better. At the end of the course this Spring-2018 a student wrote:

“I have now been given the tools to analyze and think more deeply about the dynamics of interpersonal-intergroup interactions and not rush to dismiss people. I am an American, and I am so thankful that this course has opened my eyes to the inclusive breadth of what that truly means.”

Not just in my classroom; I see positive effects of teaching young people about neo-diversity even when I just give a guest lecture. After my Ramsey Lecture at the U. of Georgia a student wrote:

“One thing I appreciated about Dr. Nacoste’s lecture was that he took the time to define a few terms that are thrown around so often in our society today, I think we have lost sight of what they mean. He talked about racism in the terms of structure, which is often overlooked in pop culture and media, who would rather blame individual entities for inequity because it is more sensational and easier to comprehend. He also defined “bigoted” as having a negative view of an entire group of people. This was definitely a good reminder for me to watch how I think about and generalize about other people.”

Hear me then; We can save the soul of America. I write books and teach a course that prepares people to interact in our neo-diverse America not with anxiety but with respect. Here are my most recent students at NC State:

posted by Rupert  |   3:01 PM  |   0 comments