Archive for March, 2008

I Have a Dream

Posted: March 14, 2008 in ACLU, Celebrating Diversity, Racism

As a follow-on to this post by DANEgerous, I must admit that I’m starting to think that {{shocked gasp}} it just might be quite entirely possible that {{hushed whispers}} blacks are more responsible for maintaining and sustaining modern racism than whites.

But then, saying that probably makes me racist.

How is it that we can have a black candidate for President, with a very real and viable shot at it, a black Secretary of State, black Supreme Court justices, black Generals, CEOs, and Governors all over the country…but we are somehow still “struggling” under the burdensome yoke of racism, and the legacy of slavery, etc, etc, blah blah blah?

How long do you suppose is a reasonable length of time before the condition of the black community and culture can no longer be seen as a “legacy of slavery?” Is it time-driven, or success driven? I mean, is it only when X percentage of the black population has reached a Y standard of living that we say they’ve “finally” shaken off the chains of slavery? And that being said, if year after year passes, and that level is not reached, will it still remain the responsibility/blame of an intransigent, “white-dominated” culture that won’t “let” them succeed?

How is it that shrill, caustic mouthpieces like Obama’s pastor still manage to find purchase in the public psyche with their retooled brand of supremacist rhetoric? Guys like this don’t want to level the playing field, they want to turn the tables. The don’t want equality, they want retribution.

The rallying cry of the Obamaniacs is CHANGE! The clear implication being that this country is still ALLLLL kinds of fucked up, and it’s up to a great visionary like Obaaamaaaaa {{obligatory fawning swoon, spontaneous vaginal orgasms, etc.}} to sweep in and right all the wrongs left to fester by heartless Rethuglicans…wrongs somehow which remainined miraculously un-righted during the eight years of the Clintonian era.

We’ve got fair hiring laws, fair housing laws, voting rights laws, affirmative action hiring quotas and admission/scholarship preferences in colleges which squeeze out non-minority candidates in favor of blacks and asians.

I’m having a hard to time figuring out just what exactly it is that is still such a stain on our national and cultural soul that I’m supposed to feel all this racial guilt about?

I’m just not sure how you campaign for the office of the President of the United Fahreakin’ States, as a front runner in a dead heat with a white woman, all on the platform of overcoming racial inequality!?!?

As long as the Condi Rices and Colin Powells of this world are presented as nothing more than token hires or appointments, by the black extremists no less, then the perception of racism will continue to be fostered, by black extremists. When having a black supreme court justice is presented as some sort of fluke, a token affirmative action appointment by a “white” administration to placate black activists, rather than an acknowledgement of black achievement and the individual’s own noble, hard-fought accomplishments, then it will continue to be about racism.

I have a dream. A dream of the day when we won’t need a “Black History” month, and it will all just be “American History.” When we won’t have to dedicate a month to highlighting women of note in American history, and instead will simply acknowledge the achievements of Americans who just happened to be women.

I also long for the day when a black woman cannot stand on a stage, in her $80 shoes and $200 dress, with her $60 manicure and $150 hairdo, and lament the plight of black people at the hands of crushing economic inequality. That she cannot stand on a stage with her husband, as he campaigns for President, and lament the lack of opportunities for blacks.

At least, not without getting booed and laughed off the stage.

A few selected passage by Martin Luther King:

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Obama continues to preach the same sermon. Black preachers and activists continue preach the same sermon. Have we really done so little in the last 45 years? Have not great swaths of MLK’s vision come to pass?

If vocal black leaders continually refuse to acknowledge the great strides this nation has made in addressing these historical inequalities, if they continue to beat the same downtrodden drum despite all the amazing progress of the last half century, do they not devalue and negate all the achievements and contributions of those who have come before?

As long as we spend so more energy highlighting the few remaining inequities than in celebrating the many ways in which we have succeeded in bring people together, the rhetoric will always be one of failure instead of victory.

And so, we must ask, who ultimately bears the greater burden at this time to bring about further change? How much longer will it remain the fault of other people, of other races, of the “establishment” or the “government” or capitalism or whatever other handy bogeyman presents itself?

When can America finally say, “We have truly given you, like so many others, all the same opportunities, all the same possibilities for hope and progress that any other American enjoys. What happens now is YOUR responsibility, not MY fault!

{{Cros-posted at 4rwws}}

Shadows

Posted: March 13, 2008 in Blitherings, Creative Writing

What tremulous shadows plague me as I stumble and shake my way through the day in a furtive, shuffling panic, anxious glances over my shoulder, listening for the heavy-treaded footfalls of some namelss dread.  I clutch a threadbare coat closer against my chest, feeling the frantic flutter of my heart against my clenched, trembling fists.

 The air seems thick, syrupy sweet, clogging my throat.  I gasp and wheeze like a fish thrown to the bank, lungs aching for oxygen that is somehow just out of reach.  A car horn blasts in random petulance, and the sudden shock robs my legs of their strength.  I clatter to the sidewalk, all hands and knees and elbows, my head hung low, panting like a Saint Bernard on a hot, July afternoon.

One, two, then three. Three sets of feet and ankles pass in and out of view.  Three people who glanced nervously at the shuddering form huddled on the sidewalk, three people who quickly looked away and kept walking, perhaps even a little faster.

The air seems to die, to lose its life-giving essence in favor of some thick, acrid staleness that fills my lungs like plaster.  My throat catches and holds every particle of dust and mote of the dessicated, choking spume.  I know I have to get moving again, to get away, get away from it.  From them. From whatever it is that haunts me, always there, hovering just out of sight, out of hearing, but still, there, nonetheless.

I lever myself first to one foot, then the other, leaning against the nearby wall for support, slowly in jumps and starts wrenching myself back up and up like some reluctant Kraken, rising from the depths. I am able to force back one swallow, then two.  My fists clenched at my sides, my cracked lips pressed tight into a thin, white line, I will one foot to move, then the other, mechanically, lurching and stumbling forward like some misshapen, ill-formed creature.  I woodenly avoided the confused, concerned, even frightened gazes of the other pedestrians around me.  My eyes burn with unshed tears of shame, of humiliation, of fear.

 Almost there.  Almost there.

The stairs loomed before me suddenly, worn concrete steps with a crumbling brick rail.  They could have been made of gold given the relief and joy I feel.  My heart quickens once again, this time with the first hesistant insistence of hope, my careworn shoes scuffling and shuffling up each step.  My tired, weathered hand reaches for the knob, turns, pushes, and I stumble onward.  Up two flights, down the hall, almost running now, almost safe, almost…

The door to my room is already open. 

Then I know.  The shadows weren’t out there, they were in here.  It is supposed to be my sanctuary, my refuge.  They aren’t supposed to find me here.  But they did.  They had.  With a cold numbness spreading steadily through my body, without the energy left to even shudder or tremble, I step across the threshold. 

I don’t even flinch when the door clicks shut behind me.