Friday, May 29, 2009

Judicial Activist?

There is such racial angst against President Obama out here in the real world, methinks that if the second coming of Jesus were to happen, and if Obama nominated Jesus Christ to the Supreme Court, he would be reviled, ridiculed, dissed for lack of creds and vilified by the right-wing-nuts. Nobody who is nominated by Obama is going to be recognized for anything positive in their personal or professional lives by the hate-obsessed right wingers. In other words some of us have not come very far, picture the inquisition.

I was raised as a ' fundamentalist' but thank God, I got over it. The Jesus I perceived as a child in Sunday School was the ultimate activist. Its not that this is what I was taught, it is that I came to my own conclusions, even as a child. Jesus could not stand injustice and stood up to it at every opportunity. He was reviled, ridiculed, and dissed for the lack of credentials whenever he confronted what was then, right wing ideologues. Jesus was not some namby-pamby who let anyone attach labels to what he stood for and what he did not stand for. His message of love, forgiveness, tolerance and openness was lost on those very souls he sought to heal and those very fundamentalists crucified him.

The right-wing-nuts have been with us always, just as we are taught the poor are with you always, there are those who have always opposed the way others live their lives. It is not sufficient for the oppressors to live their own lives and let others live theirs even when the lifestyles never encounter. Oppressors want to tell everyone how to, live and believe, in the intolerant ways they espouse and, if one does not comply, one is vilified publicly and given less than full human status.

All of this to say that Sotomayor, probably the most qualified and credentialed an individual of any sex , or any race, that is likely to qualify for nomination to the Supreme Court, is inevitably going to run into some high caliber opposition for no reason other than sexual and racial intolerance on the part of those who just cannot stand her achievements as a Latino woman. Instead of celebrating Sotomayor as the remarkable human being she is, they are nit-picking every little thing in her background and extracting words out of context in a vain and small attempt to diminish her as a nominee. How pathetic they are. How myopic not to acknowledge that she personifies the American Dream. They are afraid of the strength that can rise up, persevere against insurmountable odds, inspiring awe in a public she has not even met and, worst of all, absent any real issues in her past, it is dangerous for the right wing zealots to try to destroy her. In the attempt to destroy her person hood they will further destroy themselves.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Use of the 'N' word

Unless and until everyone is willing to analyze the word 'nigger' and stop using the term 'n word' we cannot fully understand what is truly embodied in the word. The use of the term 'n word' is more acceptable, much like the term 'f word'. Everyone knows what is meant and the abbreviation is just a way to sterilize, for social purposes, the idea behind the word. The word nigger,in this case, is much more than a word. It is a concept born of fear, degradation, worthlessness, inferiority and discrimination based on the baseless supposition that one's value as a human is wholly a matter of skin color.

I am certainly NOT advocating the use of the term nigger in conversation to refer to an individual. What I AM advocating is open dialogue between races about what is conjured in the mind's eye when the word is used. Diversity is as worthy of enlightened extra effort as any other form of education. We teach our children about sex, drugs, alcohol , but make no sustained effort to explore diversity. I personally seek out discussions with individuals of all races about what they have experienced on a day-to-day basis because of their race, and the interface with other races. What has ensued is a rich legacy of stories and experiences from both whites and blacks. I will relay one such true story.

When Obama was elected a white doctor I know took a day off from work in order to drive African-Americans to polls to vote. Shortly after the election I was in a doctor's office and I asked one of the LPN's what she thought about the election of the first African-American president in history and if she thought it would ever happen. She was herself African-American. We were in the waiting room and she lowered her voice to a whisper and said she was very happy but never thought it could happen. She then relayed a story which made my eyes tear up and left me in shock.

There was a doctor in the department who was deathly afraid of black people and would not deal with them at all. Keep in mind this was 2009 not some place far back in time. This particular doctor was afraid that if they touched a black person , or if the black person touched them, the black would rub off. The doctor, who of course, will remain nameless and sexless, came into contact with a patient who was black. The patient knew of the doctor's fear of skin-to-skin contact and decided to touch the doctor to show them that indeed the black would not rub off. The doctor totally freaked out and left the room and would not come back. This is not made up, nothing this absurd could be imagined.

The incident left me wondering how the doctor developed such an idea and how on earth did such an attitude persist after all the years of education? My conclusion was that he/she was raised in a racist environment which had embodied some deeply held notions that intellect and education simply could not overcome.

There must be education, on many levels, about racism and not just by African-Americans. To start with I don't know why African-Americans have to be called by national origin when I am not called a German-American because I am of German, actually Prussian, descent. I don't especially like the term black either, because black does not describe all people of African-American descent any more than white describes persons of European descent. I would, in the best of worlds , like to hear people called by their name with respect for who they are. This applies, in my world view, to all people be they poor and homeless, of any race, any sex, or sexual orientation, from any place.

Many are racist ,and don't believe they are racist, and would actually swear they are not, whether they happen to be black or white. They may think they are not racist but the attitudes are so deeply embedded, so insidiously repressed, that the behavioral expression is not even recognized as racist. The indoctrination of racism begins early in childhood and is where lifelong discriminatory attitudes are formed, and perpetuated, from generation to generation.

By writing this book, 'Daddy, is James a Nigger?'( a question I asked my Dad when I was 4 yrs.old) I hope in some small way to contribute to education, and racial healing, so the scourge of racism can ultimately be eliminated. We have to begin with ourselves, black and white alike, by honestly examining our own individual attitudes regarding others. Then, and only then, can we positively influence children when they are young enough to ask innocent, truth-seeking questions. Their questions require enlightened , wise, and forthright, answers from those of us who bear the responsibility for guiding childhood development.