A native son of Chicago’s West Side, John W. Fountain is an award-winning journalist, professor, and author of the memoir True Vine: A Young Black …Read More
JOHN W. FOUNTAIN: These are a few lessons on life written to my daughter. Some of them are rooted in the wisdom of my dearly departed grandmother. Some rinsed with humor. Some stem from my own experience — and even my mistakes — as a man.
Pineapple upside-down cake was Mama’s specialty. I can still smell the brown sugar wafting through our apartment on Thanksgiving. I see Mama, wearing that contented half-smile of hers, moving gracefully, with a sense of purpose and pride, laying the finishing touches on dinner. I hated …Read More
I received a good number of readers’ responses to last week’s column. Here are a few of them: A female reader writes, “Hello, just finished reading your article in today’s newspaper, ‘Big dreams can come true, son.’ I’ve suffered through moments where people have thoughtlessly …Read More
Search recent columns
JOHN W. FOUNTAIN: During a casual conversation with an acquaintance recently, I shared my 11-year-old son’s Ivy League aspirations of playing basketball for Harvard. The acquaintance replied, “Oh, it’s a pipe dream…” The words struck me strange. A pipe dream? Stunned, I didn’t say anything.
There is something about seeing my daughter run that makes me cry. Whether she is trekking up a hill in cross-country, or trudging over another mile amid the cold and other elements — through the rain. Or whether she is running across an emerald field, …
There are so many lost children today. Lost in the ’hood. Lost in space. Adrift in that space that is a vast gulf between the American dream and the American nightmare. That space between the American mainstream and that other America that is an ever-swelling …
JOHN FOUNTAIN: What if, instead of going to church this Sunday, the church decided to “be” the church?
Unimpressive are those pastors who stand aloof — as if their title and position grants them celebrity status, places them snootily above the drivel and piddly existence of us commoners. Untouchables.
A letter from a thirtysomething incarcerated brother reads: “Dear Mr. Fountain, Greetings of peace and blessings! This message is being forwarded to you by my sister as I’m currently ‘on lock’ and have no email access. In a way, she is responsible for this letter …Read More
‘You are right,” a reader writes in response to last week’s column. “But how do you tell some kid working 50 hours a week, get up at 6:30, work all day, then see the guys that have new cars sleep ‘til noon … that working …Read More
Our sons perish because too many adults have pre-assigned them with hopeless destinies, spoken and sealed by the names we call them.
From an envelope, yellowed and tattered, emerge ghosts of my past. I sit in my office at home, having run across the documents it contains while on a cleaning binge. There is my parents’ marriage license — more than half a century old. Copies of …
Air brakes hiss in the evening rush hour fray. City buses squeak and squeal. The L winds around the track above Wabash Avenue, rumbling and roaring, steel on steel — drowning out conversations with a deafening familiar sound. And yet, it is music, of sorts, …
‘She so ratchet.” “That hairdo was a ratchet mess.” Ratchet this. Ratchet that. Ratchet — as in Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs. Ratchet. It seems to be the latest word in urban slang, spreading like wildfire, spilling from the lips of rappers, celebrities, kids …
Musician Felton Offard chose to persevere — determined to make a good life, to rise above poverty and circumstance, to fulfill a destiny beyond prison and brokenness.
Sending students out to immerse themselves in a story, in real-life big-city reporting, is one thing. But predicting whether the experience will in some way be transforming is tricky business. Perhaps one measuring stick may be the words of students themselves.
I understand that we won’t always agree. The point of engaging in a dialogue or expressing one’s opinion, as I do in my column, is to exchange ideas. What one may consider to be whining, another may consider to be a heartfelt expression of their truth.
We wear the mask that grins and lies, / It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, — / This debt we pay to human guile; / With torn and bleeding hearts we smile … Paul Laurence Dunbar, “We Wear the Mask,” 1895 It first …Read More
“I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe …I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me…” — Ralph Ellison, “Invisible Man” (1952) I am not invisible. I am a shadow. People react …
Where do we go from here? Amid marches for justice for Trayvon Martin, amid cries for justice for one, the headlines still scream bloody murder for many: “Man shot to death in West Pullman garage.” “Six dead, 22 wounded in weekend gun violence.” The children …