Tuesday, June 9, 2009


People have lost their sense of humor. In former times we constantly made jokes about different races. You can only tell them today with one hand over your mouth otherwise you will be insulted as a racist. I find that ridiculous. In those earlier days every friendly clique had a ‘Sam the Jew’ or ‘Jose the Mexican’ — but we didn’t think anything of it or have a racist thought. It was normal that we made jokes based on our nationality or ethnicity. That was never a problem. I don’t want to be politically correct. We’re all spending too much time and energy trying to be politically correct about everything.”

Clint Eastwood

Ok, so where do you even begin with something like this? This quote sounds a lot like my father, most of the people I grew up with, and a lot of educated, and supposedly enlightened people I now know. There is a disconnect somewhere between the speech center of the brain and the part of the brain responsible for rational thought. At least Clint Eastwood was honest.

Eastwood came out with it. Folks now, who are racist to the core and publicly claim they are not, do talk in whispers behind their hands, thinking no one will know except like-minded souls, to whom they are addressing their remarks. When there are doctors, attorneys, bankers, engineers, insurance professionals and myriad others, talking behind their hands in whispers how is any progress on racism going to take place? When we still have Realtors steering whites and non-whites to different neighborhoods how is racism diminished?

Much has been publicized about our recent 'housing crisis' and the concomitant economic breakdown of the entire financial system in the United States. It has been mentioned that economically disadvantaged ( mostly non-white) payed a heavier price than did those of privilege ( mostly white ). The bankers who made the shady loans , and understood full well that they were wrong, saw poor whites and non-whites alike as oportunistic victims ripe for discriminatory picking. Racism in not only morally wrong it has proved economically disasterous. The sooner we recognize that a robust middle class of all ethnicities is needed to restore our economic well-being the sooner we can begin to fiscally, as well as racially, heal this country.

Economic injustice still hides behind the backhand of whispers, shrouded in political correctness, in the face of racism: it thrives in the the dark secretive place where economic power decides who gets ahead.

***I need to say something about 'whiteness' vs 'non-whiteness' here. I recognize that racism is usually regarded with respect to bigotry against those who are non-white by those who are white. I also recognize that to use the term white vs non-white creates a greater racial divide, but I am trying to learn a better way to put it. At the moment white vs non-white is all I know. Please check out this link and read this scholarly article by Joyce Irene Middleton because I cannot say it as effectively as she has in the article entitled, Post Civil Rights Whiteness and Diversity: When are we going to stop talking about race? May 21st 2009.

Monday, June 8, 2009


It is well known that children are inquisitive by nature. Since their developmental skills are formulated through observation and questioning, what they see and hear from their earliest experiences will develop into lifelong attitudes. Children ask questions about everything. Why this, why that, and such things as why is a cat a cat and not a dog. For the most part the answers are simple for adults to answer but sometimes they are not easy.

When my son was about 3 years of age we encountered a young man in a wheel chair. We were going into a store just as he was struggling to exit in the wheelchair and I helped to hold the door open. My son looked at me and asked, "Mom, why is that guy in that chair?" I tried to hush him up, but the young man said, "M'am, if you don't mind, I'd like to answer that question myself." The young man went on the explain to my son that he had been in an accident and his injuries prevented him from walking so he needed a wheel chair to get around. My son was fascinated, he understood and accepted the explanation, and from that point on he did not see people in wheelchairs as particularly different but accepted that they had had a different experience.

Years later, when my son was about 9 yrs. old, in 1978, we were in the car on Main St. at the corner of Ridge St. in Charlottesville, Va. and we heard screaming. I was driving and I looked out the window to my left and I saw a young black girl holding her shoulder and screaming. Blood was gushing from under her hand where she had placed it to stop the bleeding. There was a very young child with her maybe, 2 or 3 yrs old. I stopped the car in the middle of the road and turned off the engine, got out and ran to her to find out what had happened. Others in the car were afraid and told me to come back and just leave. They were afraid a crime had taken place and that we were in mortal danger since the area we were driving through was predominately black. My husband, disabled by MS, was mortified that I would just stop the car and run over to someone bleeding on the sidewalk, and leave everyone else in the car.

Since this was a time before aids awareness, I did not know what to do except to try to calm her , watch her crying child so it would not get in the street, and put pressure with my bare hands on the triangle shaped cut in her shoulder. ( I was a Girl Scout) The cut was close to her neck and it was deep. She was lying down on the sidewalk and when she calmed down she told me she had been with some friends, on what is now the Downtown Mall, and they had pushed her into one of the store windows and when she fell through it, it broke. She had some other minor cuts as well but nothing like the big one in her shoulder. A young black man came from the direction of Ridge St. and asked if he could help. I told him to get to a phone and call the rescue squad, and the police, and he did. By this time people had gathered to see what was happening. When the ambulance came the men told me they had it, she was going into shock, and I should leave. I remember looking at the blood on my hands and marveling how it was just blood, not black blood or white blood, just red blood that runs through all human veins. My son's only comment was a question, "Mom is she going to be alright?"

One of the adults commented that I could have been killed just running willy-nilly to help a person in 'that section of town' and that I should have had more consideration for my family than that. It is true that the car was stopped dead in the middle of the road, but the traffic was very light and seemed to move around our car just fine. I was concerned about what might have been said in my son's range of hearing while I was not there. We had members of our family who were then, and still are, racist. I can only hope , that by example, I was able to negate any racist mutterings to which he may have been exposed .

Friday, June 5, 2009

The New Obama World

President Obama has exceeded all expectations I had of him as candidate Obama. In his last speech to the Muslim world he has elevated, not only the status of faithful, law-abiding people, but he has elevated the status of humankind. He has not given in to terrorism by recognizing that individual differences in religious belief do not make us adversaries. He has not given in to terrorist behavior by acknowledging that there are far more good Muslims living day-to-day, with the same goals and aspirations as those of us who are Christian, than there are terrorists invoking the Muslim religion as justification for their savage actions. He has recognized Muslims of all nations as a people who have longed to be recognized for the good they represent and not for the hate brought upon them by their own saboteurs.

For centuries Muslims have been feared, hated and misunderstood. To be sure their culture is vastly different from our American culture. They have suffered great religious persecution in much the same way Christians have experienced persecution. Nor have Muslims , by and large, been recognized in recent world history for the contributions made to art, technology and science. Just as United States history text books have left out huge amounts of information of the contributions of African-Americans to our national development, text books for classes in world history conspicuously leave out huge amounts of information about Muslim contributions. In my pursuit of information of the history of black Americans, I read a lot of books about Africans' contributions to the building of America that I never read in a text book in school. It is as if, once considered not equal by Western standards, certain ethnic populations just never existed.

If there is to be any reconciliation with nations that are prodominately Muslim it has to begin somewhere. President Obama's speech may have appeared to be apologetic to some Americans and less than adequate for some Muslims, but it was a beginning. It is true that no one else could have given that speech and connected so forcefully with the very people we need to engage in order to defeat terrorism. Muslims have suffered mightily from terrorism too and they have a huge human stake in eliminating it from their own lands.

There is such irony that at just the time when America needed someone to begin healing the religious and ethnic rifts in the world, that Obama burst onto the scene, seemingly out of nowhere as a African-American, and in short order, began a dialogue with the Muslim world.