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Is Race Still an Issue in the United States?

When I was a kid, which was in the 1950’s, Labor Day meant the baseball season was over, and the World Series was about to begin. There were two baseball leagues in those days – the National League and the American League, and the winners of each league then played a best-of-seven series to see which team was the baseball champions for that year.

Each league had 8 teams, with the 4 better teams referred to as the ‘first division’ teams and the other 4 teams comprised the ‘second division.’ I lived in Washington, D.C. that had a major league team – the Senators – which one year actually finished in 5th place, which meant they were the best 2nd-Division team in the American League.

The Senators were referred to by the Washington Post’s sportswriter Shirley Povich (father of Maury Povich) as ‘first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.” The year they made 5th place was as if they had won the pennant and finished in first place. The Senator players earned a World Series share for finishing in 5th place, which was, as I recall, something around $45 for each share.

The Senators played in Griffith Stadium which was located on Georgia Avenue and is now the location of Howard University Hospital. I could walk to the ballpark from my home and for 50 cents sit in the left-field bleachers which were segregated in the 1950’s even though the teams had ended the color barrier in 1947 when Jackie came up to the Dodgers from Montreal.

In the mid-1950’S, everything was segregated in D.C. – schools, housing, restaurants, movie theaters, golf courses, tennis clubs. Thanks to Truman, Blacks could get jobs in the Federal government, but they weren’t employed by D.C. Transit whose buses and trolley-cars brought them down to the mall to go to work.

I was thinking about all this last night as I watched Serena Williams play her last round in a U. S. Open Tennis Championship. Blacks didn’t play tennis when I was a kid because the playgrounds in their neighborhoods in Southeast Washington didn’t have tennis courts. Basketball yes, tennis no.

Blacks also didn’t play golf because where were they going to play?

Meanwhile, the two best tennis and golf pros over the last 20 years – Serena and Tiger - are both Black. But to understand what that really means, you have to be as old as me. I celebrated my 78th birthday two weeks ago.

This is why I don’t buy the idea being bandied about by the Fake News that the MAGA movement is just a manifestation of White anger over the fact that the country is no longer overwhelmingly White. More than half the country’s population has absolutely no memory and no personal experience of what it was like in the old, segregated life. When some White guy who is 40 years old sits down in a public space next to some Black guy, it’s a completely normal event in the experiences of both guys.

I will soon publish a comment on what I believe MAGA truly represents, but in the meantime, know this: The issue isn’t whether there are people in American society, or any society, who hold antediluvian ideas about what we should think or how we should express those thoughts. The issue is: how much of a political movement do those people really represent?

Joe’s speech Thursday night was not an attempt to tar and feather every GOP supporter who voted for Trump. Joe’s speech was an attempt to create a mid-term election narrative out of the failure of the GOP leadership to disown Trump who continues to promote the idea that the 2020 election was a ‘fraud.’ And not only was 2020 an illegal event, but Trump continues to say that maybe January 6th wasn’t such a bad idea. Last week he again promised to consider full pardons and an apology for anyone convicted of charging up the Capitol steps.

What Joe was doing Thursday night was making sure that Trump remains the focus when voters show up nine weeks from now. Meanwhile, one of the AM shock-jocks said Friday morning that the GOP had a ‘great’ issue in Hunter Biden’s laptop.

This morning I paid $3.50 for gasoline. Last month I paid $4.39.

Get it?

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