Joseph Flynn

Perspective: Thoughts On Impeachment

Nov 4, 2019
public domain

Last week, a divided House of Representatives decided that the impeachment of Donald Trump should proceed and now the sharks are out and there’s blood in the water. Republican supporters, in concert with Mr. Trump, seem to be scrambling to find viable defenses for him, focusing primarily on process over substance even though the impeachment processes for Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were essentially the same. Nixon’s investigation lasted two years before public testimony even began.

StockSnap / Pixabay

Good morning, America. Seriously, is it alright for the President of the United States to make a quid pro quo deal for personal gain -- leveraging desperately needed military funds to a nation in the middle of a war to investigate a political rival? Would you feel that way for all presidents? Republicans have struggled to answer this question. They’ve been tying themselves into knots, casting doubt on everyone from whistleblowers to our intelligence community, asking no questions of the president’s questionable behavior and tactics.

Perspective: Our Nation's Original Sin

Aug 26, 2019
J. M. W. Turner / public domain

In late August of 1619, 400 years ago, the English ship the White Lion landed on the shore of Virginia selling a cargo of enslaved Africans. It is argued this was the beginning of slavery in what would become the United States. However, the practice of the transatlantic slave trade actually predated 1619 by 100 years. Additionally, the Africans in that cargo were not the first living in North America. Africans had been living here freely since the early 1500s.  

Perspective: When Presidents Show Their Backsides

Jul 22, 2019

One of my favorite expressions is, “When someone shows you their backside, then you always know what it looks like.” The nation has spent a week debating whether or not Tweets that challenged four U.S. Representatives of color to go back to where they came from if they didn’t like the country were racist. The reactions spanned the gamut, from incensed to dismissive.  


Perspective: Education And Snowflakes

Jun 19, 2019

Did you know animals and fantasy creature are featured more in children’s literature than non-white humans, combined? So, how does that fact affect all children? Last week, the third Social Justice Summer Camp for Educators ran at Northern Illinois University.

K-12 educators came to NIU campus for four days and three nights to explore social justice issues in education. Since its first year, the size of the camp has doubled from just under 60 campers to approximately 110 with demand for a fourth camp next year.

Perspective: More Perfect?

May 15, 2019
Public Domain

Recently I subscribed to the More Perfect podcast. Across its three seasons, the podcast takes a deep dive into the Supreme Court and the Constitution. When was the last time you read the Constitution? In all its flaws, like the 3/5 Compromise, it is nonetheless a brilliant document. 


Perspective: When The Message Transcends The Gore

Apr 10, 2019
Susan Stephens / WNIJ



Hitchcock. Romero. Carpenter. Craven. Del Torro. And now, Peele.  

Perspective: Second Acts

Mar 6, 2019

In his 1932 essay, “My Lost City,” F. Scott Fitzgerald introduced his classic quote, “There are no second acts in America.” That is pretty stark and hopeless. Fortunately, the line is taken out of context.

Fitzgerald actually wrote, “I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York’s boom days.” Written only a few short years after the beginning of the Great Depression, Fitzgerald’s iconic and prescient words uncover American optimism and encourage hope, recovery, hard work, and growth.

Sarah Jesmer

How do you talk with people about race? What is white privilege? How can people have a productive conversation about difficult topics? These are some of the questions posed at a recent dialogue at Northern Illinois University. NIU professors Joseph Flynn and Melanie Koss sat down at a panel moderated by WNIJ.


Perspective: Holding America Hostage

Jan 23, 2019

This week, 800,000 federal workers will miss a second paycheck due to the shutdown of the federal government. On December 11, Mr. Trump declared that he would own the shutdown of the government if Congress did not approve over five billion dollars to fund the construction of a border wall.

Perspective: But Is It Best For Kids?

Dec 17, 2018

One of the most challenging problems facing Illinois education is the teacher shortage affecting bilingual educators. Although a statewide issue, most students affected are concentrated in underfunded low income districts attended by large numbers of children of color, many who come from non-English speaking backgrounds. And this is not an issue for Spanish speakers but over 140 other languages as well.

Suppressing The Voter -- Again

Nov 12, 2018


Accusations That Really Destroyed Lives

Oct 10, 2018

Several times during Bret Kavanaugh’s path to the Supreme Court, President Trump, Judge Kavanaugh, and others lamented how expressing allegations of sexual misconduct was “tearing down a good man,” a “hit job.” Mr. Trump declared “a man’s life is in tatters,” even though Kavanaugh’s approval was all but sealed.

A Curious Encounter -- Part 2

Sep 5, 2018



A Curious Encounter -- Part 1

Sep 4, 2018

Have you ever found yourself struggling with your values? Being an African American social justice educator, I often explore the theme of replacing judgment with curiosity and humanizing others, no matter what. Saying those values is always easier than living them. 

Lessons From Little League

Jul 30, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ


America, Who Are We?

Jun 25, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

I am sick. I am sick because I have lost who we are.

What do we stand for? I used to think I knew but, over the last couple of years, I have become less and less sure.

After a campaign of sexist, racist, classist xenophobia, we elected Donald Trump. In the aftermath, the most unsavory elements of our citizenry emerged, emboldened. Since then, the respect and sanctity of our most fundamental cornerstones are crumbling out of political ambition … and winning.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Racism’s roots run deep in American culture and institutions. But so does the desire to do something about it. For this week’s Friday Forum, we present part two of WNIJ's Susan Stephens interviewing Northern Illinois University Education Professor Joseph Flynn. He’s the author of White Fatigue: Rethinking Resistance for Social Justice, which explores how education can get more people engaged in the fight for equality.

We start with a song.  

We Must Address The Context

May 21, 2018

True story.

The afternoon of May 10, an African-American gentleman was walking down the street when he heard someone yell “nigger” from an upper floor of a parking structure. That word was hurled three times, followed by an object which barely missed the gentleman’s head.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

America has been dealing with racism for hundreds of years, but we still have a long way to go. In the first of a two-part Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Susan Stephens sits down with Northern Illinois University professor Joseph Flynn to talk about racism’s deep roots in American culture and institutions.

A Bad Way To Deal With Things

Mar 5, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, Donald Trump Jr.’s wife Vanessa was sent to the hospital for observation after opening an envelope containing white powder. Luckily she was fine; the powder was determined to be nonthreatening.

It got me thinking. No matter how angry some of us are with President Trump and his antics, please, do not attempt to assassinate Mr. Trump. Seriously. That would be disastrous to the nation, for it would deepen the rifts of values and ideologies and may destroy, for generations to come, any chances for reconciliation and healing our nation desperately needs.

A Christmas Wish For All Year Long

Dec 25, 2017

What is Christmas about? Simple: It is a celebration of a divine man who represents the best of humanity. It makes me wonder if he questions where our heads are for the other 364 days of the year.

We Must Understand Our Oppression

Nov 20, 2017

In 1977, the great British punk band The Clash released one of their most blistering protest – rather, call-to-action -- songs, “White Riot,” with lyrics like:

Black people gotta lot a problems

But they don’t mind throwing a brick

White people go to school

Where they teach you how to be thick…

White riot – I want to riot

White riot – a riot of my own

Just One More Example ...

Oct 16, 2017

Not even a month after a hurricane devastated Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States -- or should I say, a responsibility of the United States -- President Trump tweeted: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”

It's All Science ... All Of It

Sep 11, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Two natural occurrences have caught the nation’s attention recently: the Great North American Solar Eclipse and hurricanes. The eclipse was the first of its kind since 1918, and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were powerful storms causing serious devastation.

Why are these events similar? Scientists predicted both.

For decades scientists knew when the eclipse was going to happen and its trajectory -- decades! Scientists also can predict hurricanes months in advance and their trajectories days in advance.

A Challenge For This Vacation

Aug 7, 2017

For vacation I am going to Europe. Despite my excitement, I have a tinge of loathing.

It’s not about struggling with speaking German. I am more concerned with the possible onslaught of questions about U.S. politics.

The last time I visited Europe was during the debt-ceiling crisis of 2011. After being asked about the impasse several times, my answers began feeling hollow. Being abroad forces you to be a little more objective as you hear yourself outside the comfort of our borders and see how other nations actually live.

How Would You Explain This?

Jul 3, 2017

On June 24, an off-duty Lansing, Ill., police officer was filmed brutally detaining an unarmed 15-year-old African-American boy, Jordan Brunson, and threatening his life. Why? The boy was on his lawn.

According to WGN News, two boys -- one white and the other black -- had just escaped a fight with a group of boys. The unnamed white kid was reeling with minor injuries when they randomly stopped at a house and sat on the porch to tend to the wounds.

With Respect And Gratitude ...

May 29, 2017

Within the last few months, a few of my favorite movies have aired on television: Platoon; Full Metal Jacket; and Saving Private Ryan. If you have missed any one of these films, see it as fast as you can.

Each one pierces into an experience that the overwhelming number of us luckily have never known. War is not glamorous, and these films reflect that stark reality -- offering gritty, complex, and honest depictions of the physical, mental, and spiritual toll of war.

Let The Summer Games Begin

Apr 24, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Can you believe it? Summer is right around the corner. Time to start thinking about our kids’ summer activities. Summer camp, Little League and, much to some of our chagrin, video games.

My kid loves video games. It started with Super Mario Brothers. Then came the Minecraft era. Now he is obsessed with Overwatch on X-Box One that allows you to play online. I occasionally watch him play, noting his amazing dexterity and rapt attention while winning battles against a cast of crazy fictional characters I can neither name nor explain. 

A Wise Word For All 'Kids'

Mar 27, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

I know it’s not Mother’s Day, but I want to talk about my moms for a second. Her birthday was last Thursday, and I have been thinking about her a lot. When I called her with birthday wishes, the sound of her voice was like the comfort food she made me when I was a kid: warm, rich and filling.

That same voice taught and guided me through so much over my 46 years that thank you never really seems sufficient. I am always awed by how she just knows when to call or how she is so steadfast in her faith, come what may.