Award-Winning Columnist, Author, Journalist and Professor, Fountain writes weekly for the Chicago Sun-Times. Fountain has been a reporter at some of the nation's top newspapers. Formerly a national correspondent with the New York Times, he has been a staff reporter at the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. He is a professor at Roosevelt University and formerly a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

'I am not Invisible; I am a Shadow"

By John W. Fountain
“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 not to me, but to the exaggerated image of me; to the two-dimensional shadow that is every black man. That is why white people with whom I have worked, people with whom I have laughed and joked and traded stories, have sometimes passed me on the street and not recognized me. Out of context, out of safe surroundings, I am but one among a cast of dark shadows.
I am always a suspect. American menace. Most feared. Most hated.

Truth? You Can't Handle The Truth

By John W. Fountain

So if I tell you my truth
And it tickles your ears
Relieves you of any guilt
Makes your consciences feel clear
Fills you with self-righteous indignation
Makes you point the finger
(Not over there)
But over here
Compels you to cheer:
“Preach, Brother Fountain…
Tell YOUR people the truth
They don't need Jesse or Al
They need to listen to YOU…”

Our Sin: Born in America, Male, Black

By John W. Fountain 
I cannot rest
Cannot write
Cannot carry on today
Unless I pause
to say:
“Why the hell did those cops treat Alton Sterling that way?”
Shot in the back and chest
While he lay helpless on the ground
Armed & Dangerous white killers get taken in without incident
Black men
get shot down
Armed or unarmed?
It really doesn't matter
Licensed to kill us on sight
The same old American chapter
“Shoot to maim, shoot to kill”
The lynching of black men
An historic American thrill

An Ode to De'Kayla

An “Ode to De’Kayla” inspired by Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” as rerecorded by jazz trumpeter Orbert Davis

By John W. Fountain
Tyesa, Rashonda, Diamond, Tionda.
Hadiya, Heaven, Frances, Kaylyn.
Jonylah, Tanaja, Tiara, De’Kayla.
…Daughters gone too soon. Somehow we failed you.
Ain’t no sunshine standing in the crosshairs. Baby girl brown eyes. Pearly whites in the sun’s glare. Braided jump rope slappin’ hard concrete. Double Dutch singin’ while Evil--thirsting blood--creeps.
Ice-cold demons ‘round here never ever seem to sleep. They got me screaming from the mountain peaks: Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…
Clear blue skies quickly turn to cloudy-day cries. Steel-jacketed bullets rain. And our little brown girls die.
Now they lay their souls to sleep. I pray the Lord their souls to keep. But if we don’t rise before they wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. ‘Cause ain’t no sunshine.

My Response to Anonymous: Put Some Respect On It

By John W. Fountain
John Fountain Sr., the author's father whom he barely knew
as a child.
Dear Anonymous, Thank you kindly for your note. I think I understand your sentiment. But let me assure you that the reality of single-parent, African American homes needs no reinforcement. Neither is it a stereotype. The reality is that 7 out of 10 black children live in single-parent, female-headed households. That’s 72 percent to be precise. Truth. Facts.
I am well aware of two-parent headed households. Aware that black homes have fathers. My home is one of them. I am a father, mentor, uncle, brother… And yet, I am the son of a single mother, a wonderful mother who was my saving grace. That is the spirit in which my column was written.

"The next time you write to me, do me a favor: 
Put your name on it."