Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Creative Conversations

I attended a "Creative Conversations Workshop" today that our school sponsored. There was some very interesting information shared there. The first workshop was held a couple of months ago and was called "Beyond Diversity". We have discussed here some of the issues that were pointed out. This workshop shows how racism rears its ugly head in our world. It also shows how "White Privilege" works. We white people take a lot for granted and most of us have no idea what the black community contends with.

For much of the past forty years, ever since America "fixed" its race problem in the Civil Rights Acts, we white people have been impatient with African Americans who continued to blame race for their difficulties. Often we have heard whites ask, "When are African Americans finally going to get over it? Now i want to ask, "When are White Americans going to get over our ridiculous obsession with skin color?'

Recent reports that "Election Spurs Hundreds of Race Threats, Crimes" should frighten and infuriate every one of us. Having grown up in "Birmingham" Alabama in the 1960s, the author of the material remembers overhearing an avalanche of comments about what many white classmates and their parents wanted to do to John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Eventually as you may recall, in all three cases, someone decided to do more than "talk the talk".

Since our recent presidential election, to our eternal shame we are once again hearing the same reprehensible talk he remembers hearing from his boyhood. We white people have controlled political life in the disunited colonies and United States for some 400 years on this continent. Conservative whites have been in power 28 of the last 40 years. Even during the eight Clinton years, conservatives in Congress blocked most of his agenda and pulled him to the right. Yet never in that period did he read any headlines suggesting that anyone was calling for the assassination of presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, or either of the Bushes. Criticize them, yes. Call for their impeachment, perhaps. But there were no bounties on their heads. And even when someone did try to kill Ronald Reagan, the perpetrator was non-political mental case who wanted merely to impress Jody Foster.

But elect a liberal who happens to be black and we're back to the sixties again. At this point in our history, we should be proud that we've proven what conservatives have always saying - that in America, anything is possible. EVEN electing a black man as president. But instead, we now hear that school children from Maine to California are talking about wanting to "assassinate Obama."

Fighting the urge to be sick, I can only ask, "How long?" How long before we white people realize we can't make our nation. much less the whole world , look like us? How long until we white people can - once and for all - get over this preoccupation with skin color? How long before we white people get over the demonic conviction that white skin makes us superior? How long before we white people get over our bitter resentments about being demoted to the status of equality with non whites? How long before we get over our expectations that we should be at the head of the line merely because of our white skin? How long until we white people end our silence and call out our peers when they share the latest racial jokes in the privacy of our white only conversations?

I believe in free speech, but how long until we white people start making racist loudmouths as socially uncomfortable as we do flag burners? How long until we white people stop insisting that blacks exercise personal responsibility, build strong families, educate themselves enough to edit the Harvard Law Review, and work hard enough to become President of the United States, only to threaten to assassinate them when they do? How long before we start living out the true meaning of our creeds, both civil and religious, that all men and women are created equal and that "red and yellow, black and white" all are precious in God's sight?

Until this past November, I didn't believe the country would ever elect an African American to the presidency. I still don't I'll believe I'll live long enough to see us white people get over our racism problem.

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