Million Mile Walker Dispatch, Talking About Racism in the U.S. November, 2022

Dear Friends and Colleagues from Around the World,

Ever since the killing of Floyd and the global response known as Black Lives Matter, I’ve been thinking about how much of this reality I’ve ignored over the years, although it was right in front of me.  So, in Culture Watch. I’ll share my personal experience and highlight three books, which will help us better understand and deal with racism in its many forms. I’ll, announce an upcoming TV interview and a new role as contributing writer for The Authors Show in My Writing, Interviews, and Reviews. I found several timely quotes for Voices of the Day, the latest in What Others Are Saying, a little end-of-year “ditty” for Just Keep Laughing and an updated Calendar.

 But first, as we continue to glean more information from scanning and scrolling, I found this podcast on how “deep reading” can enhance our capacity for attention, empathy and insight most timely. We all need a strategy to leave our personal information “bubbles” each day and read an actual book—I do each evening.

Also, you can click on the poster above for my segment in the Arizona Authors Association, which includes my latest book review, Those Who Are Gone, A Novelette about Scottsdale, Arizona

Cultural Watch

 With the brutal and very public killing of George Floyd, and some 26 million people around the world who have joined the Black Lives Matter protest, this seemed like a good time to better educate myself about racism and my own privileges. Move out of my comfort zone and join with the Black and White communities ready to promote improved education, healthcare and fair wages for all Americans.

I was brought up in Plainfield, New Jersey and there were not many Black kids. The only ones I saw were the few who were part of the “advanced” classes, and these kids seemed very scholastically motivated. My family moved to Littleton, Colorado when I was 16 and from there to Evergreen in 1963. Shortly after we arrived in Colorado, all hell broke loose in New Jersey with violent race riots, burning property, shooting and looting. And, I remember thinking, “What was that about? Boy, did we get out of there just in time!”

I’d go to school on the Western slope of Colorado and didn’t see many Blacks, and then went overseas where I was exposed to a more diverse population, including three years working in West Africa. But when I returned home, I ended up in Scottsdale, Arizona and found a home in what we considered the best school district, Paradise Valley, which is predominantly white, as schools are basically funded by property taxes in this country, so those who can purchase the best homes often have access to the best schools.

My interest and awareness peaked in 2021. The newscasts reported that three white men had tracked down a Black jogger, Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia in a pickup and killed him because he looked “suspicious.” Initially, police didn’t arrest them, and the Justice Department didn’t prosecute them—only when video/cell images emerged were the local authorities forced to act. The three white men were eventually convicted of hate crimes.

I’d been traveling to and from Brunswick for over ten years, so I thought I knew the area. I often headed over to Jekyll Island to enjoy the blackened catfish, cheese grits and fried okra among other local delicacies. Everyone was so friendly, one of our staff taught me the proper pronunciation of the iconic Georgia Bulldogs, or the “Dawgs” as they’re known.

I shared my surprise about the killing of Arbery with the executive who hired me at the organization I worked with and he said, “I’ll never forget the day at (the organization I worked with) when, after we instigated a plan to formally include MLK day as an official holiday…the … director of HR came barging into my office to ask me when we will be offering a day of holiday for her family members that were part of the Confederacy. That was quite a cross-cultural experience.” After hearing this, I realized that there were no Black members of the organization’s board at the time, and the only two Black staffers worked in the warehouse.

I thought I “knew” the South. I’d watched the saga of “Roots,” studied the Civil War, seen Gone with the Wind, knew about slavery and the Ku Klux Klan, and even visited a few plantations in the Brunswick area. But the author of South to America, which just received the National Book award, seemed far more capable of explaining the complexities of the South. She’s a native of Alabama and a Professor of African American Studies at Princeton. Most impressively, the author shows how the South is linked to the rest of the country and why one must understand some of this uniqueness to understand our nation as a whole.

Her journey is marked by nuances and surprising encounters in places and with people. She tells her stories of the South with transparency and honesty, including some troubling history and typical humiliations and joys that make Southern life what it is for a Black American woman. She even touches on the history of slavery in the “Golden Isles,” which are close to Brunswick.  Here is a link to my review:

My Writing, Interviews, and Reviews

I’ve worked with the founder of The Authors Show, Danielle Hampson, for several years, and she interviewed me and helped promote my first book, Different Latitudes—and now I’m a team member as an independent book reviewer with a focus on bi-lingual writers.

This book won a Pulitzer Prize and is one of the most informative books on race in the U.S.

“American slavery, which lasted from 1619 to 1865, was not the slavery of ancient Greece or the illicit sex slavery of today. American slavery, by contrast, was legal and sanctioned by the state and a web of enforcers.” “For the first time in history, one category of humanity was ruled out of the “human race” and into a separate sub-group that was to remain enslaved for generations in perpetuity.”

The author broadens our perspective of caste by comparing systems in the U.S. with India and the Nazis in Germany. Of India and the U.S., “Their respective hierarchies are profoundly different. And yet, as if operating from the same instruction manual, translated to fit their distinctive cultures, both countries adopted similar methods of maintaining rigid lines of demarcation and protocols. Both countries kept their dominant caste separate, apart and above those deemed lower….” Here’s my review:

This was one of the most fascinating books about what slavery was about and how it had impacted the U. S. for so long. In this case, Aminata Diallo would be taken from her village in West Africa and placed on a slave ship in Sierra Leone – where I’d worked for three years, bringing this story closer to home. The ship was bound for South Carolina, and from there, she’d escape to New York City and, most amazingly, manage to return to Sierra Leone.

The original book was 150 pages long, created by Brigadier General Samuel Birch. It records the names and descriptions of 3,000 Black Loyalists, enslaved Americans who escaped to British lines during the American Revolution and evacuated to Nova Scotia, Canada, as free people of color. And some managed to migrate to Sierra Leone, where they settled in Freetown, under the auspices of the Sierra Leone Company. They were among the original ancestors of the Krio ethnic group. Krio is the lingua franca in a country divided by numerous tribes and languages. Here’s my review:

This New York Times bestselling book attracted me because the author is a recognized trainer and educator on racial and social justice issues. She deals head-on with white people who ignore race and are dealing with emotions like anger, fear and guilt, often leading to argumentation and silence. More importantly, the author explains the phenomenon and how it protects racial inequality and what we, as a society, can do to engage more constructively.

The author starts with, “White people in North America live in a society that is deeply separate and unequal by race, and white people are the beneficiaries of that separation and inequality.” What she calls “White Fragility” is born of a feeling of superiority and entitlement. “Discrimination is action based on prejudice. These actions include ignoring, exclusion, threats, ridicule, slander, and violence….When a racial group’s collective prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control, it is transformed into racism…” Here’s my review:


(Photo by Cliff Nagle)

I’ve received invaluable input from several beta reader buds for A Guatemala Reader, which brings together 18 essays published in Revue Magazine about “The Land of the Eternal Spring.”   I still need to do some tweaking and find a publisher.


What Others Are Saying

About my next book: A Guatemala Reader:

…It will be a good addition to a would-be PCV recruit/trainee, a serious sojourner curious about visiting our southern neighbors, or one who has visited but would welcome further background to embellish their experience and understanding.  In fact, to that end, by referencing significant and globally recognized voices like Argueta, Asturias, Montejo, Goldman, de Berge, and Nan Cuz, you’re inviting the reader to go deeper with one or more of them (which I found myself pausing to do on the web as I read) and that bodes well for all.

Dave Carlson, I met Dave when he worked with AGROS—promoting loans in Guatemala. He’s traveled through many isolated parts of the highlands of Guatemala and is an astute observer of the country.

Here is the latest review of my new book, My Saddest Pleasures:

5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Educational and Enjoyable Travel Narrative

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 30, 2022

Mark Walker’s second book is a lively travel odyssey that kept me engaged and added to my knowledge and awareness of the cultures that he visited over his many years as a Peace Corps volunteer and charitable fundraiser. Reading about Mr. Walker’s extensive journey, “gave me eyes,” as I felt the nostalgia, sadness and joy of his experiences. I highly recommend this well-written narrative as an educational and enjoyable read.
Dr. Kixx Goldman, Author of Speak From Your Heart and Be Heard

 Voices of the Day

 “It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action.” Marian Wright Edelman


 Just Keep Laughing


As I send out my end-of-year donations on this Giving Tuesday, I came across this ode for the sanity for my fellow fundraisers everywhere! Where swear jars have become the most lucrative source of income.…/MjQ4NjR8MjMzNDk2fDE2Njk2NDU0MTJ8NA


  • December 6 or 7: I’ll be returning to Global Connections TV to discuss the making of my latest book, My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road
  • December 10: I’ll join PEN America’s Arizona Chapter at El Charro Hipster Bar and Café in Phoenix with like-minded writers, publishers, and community activists dedicated to cultivating literary engagement and defending free expression. In January 2023, I’ll discuss my new book, My Saddest Pleasures, with the Arizona Professional Writers Book Club.
  • February 22, 2023, I’ll discuss “My Daily Rituals” on writing at the Desert Foothills Library Arizona Author series event in Cave Creek.

You can find my 60 book reviews and 28 articles, plus several videos, on my website, including a reduced price for my new book if you read it and pass it along to your local library. “Follow” me on Twitter., @millionmile_wal, and Facebook at for the latest on international affairs and literature. And, as always, if you’ve read “Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond,” rate it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and GoodReads, or if you don’t have it, please consider purchasing it or, better still, purchase my latest book, My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road


Mark D. Walker


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