" Open up your mind. Let your fantasies unwind."
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Phantom of the Opera
Einstein once mused something to the effect that America suffered from not having enough taverns. He hailed from a culture that located taverns on almost street corner. These taverns filled nightly with repeat patrons to continue discussion on typically two topics, politics and religion. By contrast, in America these topics were deleted from polite parlor conversation. Einstein felt that lack of beer and banter left Americans rather naive in these two areas.
Well, I am second generation American, descended from the folk who hit the taverns and talked the forbidden topics. So it was not the least unusual for my twenty-something daughters, at Easter dinner, to bring up the fascinating speech presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, delivered last week on race relations. (See Obama’s speech http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp=23690824� )
In response to the revelation that his longtime pastor and friend, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, made inflammatory remarks regarding white people and white America, Obama took up the task of defining himself in the context of the race issue.
It is about time we had some new ideas floated around in addressing this longtime stand- off between two groups of Americans.
I can speak as a minority member at times but I cannot speak as a black person. Both groups overlap in one area. Facing job discrimination as a female in the 60’s when women were only eligible to be nurses, teachers or clerical workers, I can tell you it is not pretty to be left out of the game. This discrimination cuts you to the bone as a person, your sense of self and worth. Why, you wonder, are you thought to be not capable? Worse, you question...Are you really not capable? Is it really true? These are strikes against you that can trigger the course of a lifetime of tragic personal loss that pervades the entire spectra of what it means to be a person. Nothing should snatch that away, our human dignity and sense of worth. It is death to the spirit.
Equally though ,as Obama points out, white Americans today did not commit these crimes. He noted that as children of immigrants, white Americans feel that America is not handing them any special privilege. I lived my life with two white males, my father and my husband. I watched these men work long hours, hold second jobs, transfer from state to state to keep the money coming to support their families. They worked, not in the" grass is greener" pastures imagined by hardcore feminists but in the heartless mines of corporate America. They did a lot of work they would rather not have had to do. I know first hand for the white male, it is no picnic working to keep food on the table. And it is hard to see the money they earned and need to support their own families, taxed away.
There are two sides to the racial tensions. I congratulate Barack Obama for having the spine to bring that point into the discussion. Race issues cannot be solved in the absence of honest dialogue, which may host more mutual understanding. Through mutual understanding, the tension may start to dissipate.
My young’ uns are virtually colorblind. They do not know the world Rev. Wright grew up in that molded his hatred and anger. Race relations will remain unresolved in the grip of that model. Newer, more colorblind images have to be allowed to enter the American portrait. Unequivocally, these images are found in the innocence and sincerity of a new generation that as I have said, are indeed colorblind. Our black brethren may take comfort in knowing that their white brethren have indeed heard their cry in the wilderness…we took action and it is seen in our progeny.
On the lighter side on race…below are some fun URLs on what is going with black fraternities nationwide. Our younger daughter’s friend, Greggy (wearing the back glasses) , recently came to family taco night and gave us a mini course on stepping. I have provided the URL’s. Stepping is a team activity that is done competitively with fraternities around the country. Greggy’s group ‘Dem Boyz’ has performed in movies and apeared on TV spots like Regis and Kelley. They have preceded bands at concerts like Usher. 'Dem Boyz' works with inner city kids also.
This performance may have been at Rider University. Be sure to turn up your volume. Have fun!