The Facebook message from Julie at Minority Humanitarian Foundation arrived on a Wednesday afternoon.

“Hi Jim and Nina would you be available/interested in driving to Calexico tomorrow to pick up an asylum seeker? His wife just called us and he is being released today. … we were wondering if you could pick him up from the hotel tomorrow … and then take him straight to the airport and walk him through TSA.”

Nina Wickett and I had spent the day in Tijuana helping to prepare and serve a meal outside a health clinic with the wonderful people of Contra Viento…


On a recent morning I stopped at a local coffee shop before getting on the highway to spend a few hours with my two grandchildren.

Only one barista was on duty and he was busy making a fancy beverage for the only customer ahead of me. I stood behind the customer, a man in a baseball cap, resigned to waiting a few minutes. I wasn’t in a hurry, so it was not an inconvenience — just a much-needed exercise in patience. And then …

Almost immediately, my thoughts lurched to negativity: Why can’t people just order real coffee instead of…


I am in awe of James Baldwin.

The novelist, poet, essayist and activist has been in vogue recently, thanks in part to the 2020 re-release of the documentary, “I Am Not Your Negro,” and scholarly books such as Eddie S. Glaude’s “Begin Again.”

Baldwin, who died in 1987, was a brilliant writer and champion of civil rights and a lightning rod for criticism. As an outspoken gay Black man, he was attacked from every corner, including by fellow Black civil rights activists.

“I Am Not Your Negro” includes excerpts of a 1965 debate Baldwin had with conservative icon William F…


Migrants and asylum seekers in Tijuana, Mexico, 2019.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso) criticized the “rhetoric of fear and hatred” used Monday March 15, 2021, by GOP House members at a media event at the southern border in El Paso.

Rep. Escobar said during a virtual press conference that she had invited House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s delegation to meet with local leaders and advocates to gain a more complete perspective on the challenges at the border, but the offer was not accepted.

“He obviously only wanted a very narrow perspective,” Escobar said. …


The calling cards of a U.S. Census enumerator.

Yesterday I ended my six-week stint as an enumerator with the U.S. Census Bureau, going door-to-door as part of the constitutionally mandated decennial effort to track our population.

Despite some frustrations with the technology and with ongoing uncertainty over the timetable of our work (as it’s yet another democratic institution weaponized by this administration), I found it very rewarding.

How can constant rejection from strangers be enjoyable, you ask? Here’s how . . .

I had dozens of pleasant conversations with strangers, a rare treat during the pandemic, even though I had to wear a face mask the entire time…


A neighbor, middle, opposing a Black Lives Matter protest in front of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in Fayetteville, N.Y., engaged protesters in a heated argument on June 19. Police were called. Photo © Michelle Gabel

By JIM McKEEVER

The summer of 2020 was one of violence.

More violence — and deaths — seem inevitable with the approach of the Nov. 3 elections, widely viewed as a referendum on the current administration and its policies.

Anxiety and tension have risen with more videotaped incidents involving police officers and Black men, threats of voting fraud, warnings of armed conflict and inflammatory statements and lies by those with a public forum.

But violence — and deaths — in the streets can be avoided.

A June 19 incident at a Black Lives Matter protest in Fayetteville, N.Y., provides insight…


In the two weeks since a white Minneapolis police officer — knowing he was being videotaped — took the life of African-American George Floyd, protests have erupted around the world and in my white town, my white neighborhood.

‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters in Fayetteville, New York, June 4, 2020. Photo © Michelle Gabel.

I wanted to share some of the more noteworthy reactions from people who look like me (that is, white). These encounters took place in two settings — during protests along a busy road a few blocks from our house, and in our front yard, where we’ve placed a “Black Lives Matter” sign near the street.

Heavily traveled road, afternoon rush hour

As…


Jamal Johnson has been in Minneapolis, Minn. the past three days during protests over the death of George Floyd, an African-American who died Monday after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd’s hands were cuffed behind his back. Minneapolis police were investigating the use of a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby store.

Protests throughout the country have turned violent, especially in Minneapolis. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder. Three other Minneapolis police officers at the scene have been fired.

I met Jamal last September, when we were among…


The Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, NY.

After the first reported death from COVID-19 of a detainee in ICE custody in California, immigration advocates fear there will be many more.

Almost half of the detainees tested for COVID-19 in ICE detention centers in the U.S. have the potentially fatal virus — 705 positives out of 1,460 tests.

The 48-percent positive rate is well above the desired 10 percent rate recommended by the World Health Organization. Higher positive results could mean that only the most symptomatic people in a particular community are being tested, and others in that community could have the virus.

Advocates for detainees in the…


Front page of The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY, May 4, 1990.

Thirty years ago today, The Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY, published a series of articles I wrote about a Syracuse native, Tom Grace, who was one of the nine students wounded by Ohio National Guardsmen at Kent State University on May 4, 1970.

Four students were killed, of course, during the anti-war protest.

Now here we are, 50 years after that horrific day. Grace was a 20-year-old history major when a bullet struck him in the foot, requiring multiple surgeries and rehab.

In early 1990, I interviewed Grace several times by phone, and many others, including student activist Alan Canfora, photographer…

Jim McKeever

Semi-retired, thoroughly disgusted progressive grandfather.

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