Sunday, November 09, 2008


Bridging the Great Divide(s)

About 10 years ago I wrote a grant proposal to the Apple Foundation, urging the establishment of an interracial bulletin board for high school kids. I was teaching American Studies at the time and thought that my students, mostly white, would benefit from other points of view. We're the whitest state in the nation demographically, and poked out of the way in the Northeast to boot, so the Internet seemed to offer a transcendence of geography and demography.

I didn't get the grant. I guess that the urgency was my own.

Just this morning my spouse pointed me to an excellent web site,
The Root, an African American pastiche of excellent writing and diverse, if strongly black, viewpoints. They do humor brilliantly (check out 5 Obama haircuts that he should not adopt, what black and whiter voters ought not to do/say for starters). Humor is always a good sign.

The existence of The Root has energized me. Frankly, there's more to life than making fun of Sarah Palin, however broad her ol' metaphysical behind, and I was losing the energy of the Bush years, negative energy though it mostly was.

What I find so motivating about The Root is the reminder that though our guy has gotten into
office, lots of questions and feelings of distrust remain. All you have to do to remember this is to follow the comments at the end of the mostly well written and succinct articles. There you'll find people yammering about Obama's blood cells black and white, his upbringing, his need to remember that he is STILL a black man in America, the argument of whether gay rights are civil rights, and so on.

What Obama has given us, more than at any other time, is an opportunity to talk to each other.

In my college days (class of '69, wink wink) I remember "befriending" Afro-American students in the dorm. Raised in Orange County, CA when it was still very white, I have always been a diversity junkie and was grateful for the chance to meet someone whose exterior differed from my own and whose style always thrilled me a little. (I have never had much style, so I gaze in wonder at those who do.) Those were the days when Black Student Unions were forming, where my dorm-mates were forsaking hot combs for afros and eventually, dropping white friends in the making of black pride. (I hadn't yet read Ralph Ellison's character's Bledsoe's remark about the necessity of telling the white man what he wants to hear.) I was a little sad, but it did seem to me that there were many things that I didn't get, and I know how comforting it is not having to be a goddam representative of anything when you are just learning to be a person.
Just needing a place to be your developing self.

(This last was underscored many times for me when I became a teacher and had to put up with the Opinions of everybody on the sorry state of education, the shitty ways that schools were treating children, nieces and nephews, etc., as I was forced into the role of representative of schooling at any party I attended.
Such are the burdens of Social Significance.)

In any case, it does seem that this is a great time for the races to chat each other up. It's going to take a national coalition not just to elect, but to implement. We have all sorts of issues to address, and the sooner we follow the example of Obama's respectful ways, the sooner we'll be able to address problems and assumptions that are less about race, more about some pernicious patterns that have plopped down on and distorted our national consciousness.

To survive economically and spiritually, to fulfill the idea that keeps people coming to our shores, we're going to have to become more creative than consumptive, more active than passive, more committed to solving problems than pointing fingers. This I think is what our new president is all about, and it's what I hope that we will be all about, too.

You are right about Palin. We've crossed that bridge (to nowhere). The fact her Maverick team lost is a no brainer. Oh! I can't stop myself from making these puns. Palin was one scary lady. Beneath that folksy facade, she was a rabid evangelical monster.
But really- enough about her.

I am just glad we have a person with a vision at the helm. I keep hearing he plans on walking the walk. That he is poised to undo 200 of the shrubs signing statements, giving the green light to stem cell research, restoring reproductive rights (no more abstinence only funding restrictions for schools, and a host of other signing statement abuses W engaged in.

Furthermore-- he is looking to give proper trials to Gitmo detainees, and shut that hell hole down.

Oh! Here is a president who is not even in office yet & has already earned a boatload of respect from me.

I'll have what he's having

Although I agree with your closing statement, there is one final pointing of a finger, well, salute, if you will for the Shrub in 1*20*09.

His regime has literally been torture.
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