Opinion » Note

An Unconscious Theme

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As sometimes happens, an unconscious theme develops over the course of putting together an edition of Boise Weekly. This week it seems to be we're considering race relations in a couple of ways.

On Page 6, longtime BW freelancer Carissa Wolf traveled to the small town of Dietrich, Idaho, to ask a deceptively simple question: "Why?"

Specifically, Wolf explored the varying reactions to a 2015 assault case at the rural community's high school that continues to generate international headlines. The story began in the school's locker room, where a couple of (white) football players bullied, harassed and ultimately assaulted a (black and mentally disabled) teammate. Considering the brutality of the attack, which involved a coat hanger, many met a judge's ruling in February with shock and anger, as the stiffest punishment handed down was three years of probation and community service.

In following the threads of the case, Wolf came up against the intersection of race, disability rights, and the definitions of masculinity and what constitutes sexual assault.

On Page 18, BW Film Guru George Prentice profiled the documentary I Am Not Your Negro, which examines the life and impact of civil rights icon James Baldwin. Drawing on Baldwin's essays, materials from his estate and archival footage—and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson—the film is a portrait of a great 20th century thinker, essayist and novelist, but also an "incendiary" (to quote the critics' consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, where it has a 98 percent rating) tour through American race relations.

Separated by decades and far removed in geography, from Dietrich to James Baldwin, these are conversations and issues that remain lodestones in our shared social existence.

Zach Hagadone

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