I am 77 years old, which means I have been observing how people behave for at least the past fifty years. And these observations have brought me to the following conclusions:
1. I do not understand, nor can I explain why some people believe that the color of someone’s skin determines how smart or dumb that person is.
2. I do not understand, nor can I explain why some people believe in God and other people don’t.
3. I do not understand, nor can I explain why my sexual orientation is called ‘straight’ and other people’s sexual orientation is called ‘gay.’
Believe me when I tell you that I have probably spent thousands of bucks on Amazon buying and reading books which purported to explain these issues to me, and not one of these books, even books written by foremost scholars who, in some cases have won Nobel Prizes, have provided me with any kind of reasonable explanations to any of the observations listed above.
Every once in a while, I’ll hear someone say that they ‘know’ that Whites are smarter than Blacks, or that they ‘know’ that God really did create the world in 7 days, or they ‘know’ that someone who is gay is actually suffering from some kind of disease. These statements don’t scare me, they don’t even bother me. In fact, the sound somewhat quaint.
It’s like I’m being transported fifty or sixty years back in time because I first heard these comments when I was in my college dorm and my two roomies were two kids from Darrtown, OH and Johnstown, PA. I was from New York City so even back in the 1960’s I hung out with kids who were Black, or like me didn’t go to synagogue or church, or who were gay.
But my two roomies had never met anyone except the people who came up to their front porch. Which in Darrtown, Oh and Johnstown, PA were people just like them. Think there was one, single woman walking around Darrtown, OH in 1963 who was wearing one of those wraparound shawls that Muslim women wear? You think that Johnstown, PA had a single resident in 1963 whose primary language was Spanish, or some language spoken somewhere in the Pacific Rim?
We started using the word ‘diversity’ as a polite way of saying ‘non-White.’ We then used it to refer to gays and other gender-based groups after the whole thing came out about AIDS. Now we use the word to describe all those funny-speaking people who show up from South America and the Pacific Rim.
Know what? I hate to say this, but White people born in this country are also quickly becoming just another diverse group. Because according to the Census, those people will also represent less than a majority of the national population sometime in the next ten to fifteen years.
And the only reason that many American-born White people don’t yet feel like just another diverse group is because they live in places like Idaho, or Kansas, or North Dakota, and that’s about the only kind of people you find in those states.
My kids were born between 1971 and 1980. They are all very liberal – it’s mother’s milk. They have no idea of what it meant to drive into Delaware from New Jersey in 1956, stop for a hot-dog at a roadside stand which had a sign that read: ‘Colored – around back.’ They have no idea what it was like if you were a racially-mixed couple driving from New York to Florida on I-95 and not one motel would rent you a room. They don’t know what it was like to be a gay man or woman in New York and moved to San Francisco because you wanted to lead I nan openly gay lifestyle but knew that your parents would kill you and themselves if they found out. And if you were a woman and were looking for a job, my kids never could imagine that The New York Times had two separate classified sections – one for women, one for men.
I actually like the idea that people who think they are somehow better or more deserving than others because of their skin color or the language they speak are still around. I particularly like it when they come out for a moment from under their rocks like they did on January 6th and then go back and disappear. Because every once in a while, we need to be reminded about how far we’ve come.
I once asked a rather stupid and self-promoting gun-control advocate how come she was unwilling to speak out against the professional organization of which she was a member when it came out that this organization was donating millions of dollars to House and Senate members who voted the NRA line. She chastised me for my criticism and said, “Mike – change takes time.”
Want to compare the fifty years it took us to undo the most egregious expressions of racism to the 450 years that Blacks existed as slaves on this continent beginning in 1513? And by the way, in case you didn’t know it, our slave system was the only slave system which had no manumission practices or statutes at all.
Change takes time? That may be true if you’re dumb enough to believe that Donald Trump still deserves to be President because the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Otherwise, I think we need to thank Trump for reminding us that for everything we’ve done wrong, those Black Lives Matter signs that I saw in the front yards of houses as I drove through New Hampshire and Vermont yesterday reminded me that we’ve also done a few things right.
As Grandpa would say: “shain ziet” (read; enough is enough.) Stop screwing around and fork over some cash for 2022: Democratic National Committee (DNC) — Donate via ActBlue.