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Racism, part 2 Vol 44

May 9, 2014

If you remember where you were when Elvis died, you must be a Boomer !

My last blog received some comments that I did not expect. Being a white Boomer, it was pointed out that I can not understand racism, especially as it pertains to black peoples. One has to live an experience to fully understand it. One has to appreciate that racism may never be eradicated, as we all judge based on our sect, tribe, or family, but it does need to be fought, whenever found.

Racism does confuse me. Being of Irish decent ( fathers father, with lots of other European influences ), I have seen the movies depicting the hard times the Irish had when they emigrated to this continent. Whatever the reason, few immigrants back then came of their own free will, but suffered some type of calamity, whether it was famine, religious persecution, or a family tragedy. So, I have lots of questions that seem needing answers.

First, am I a racist ! Yes, like all Boomers, of any colour, we all like our race, and judge all others to our own scale. Even Michael Jordan, the ex-basketball player superstar and team owner, admitted this week that he had racist thoughts. The art of judging makes us racist, but few of us let it rule our existence. I have never considered myself an Irish-American, although perhaps my father did ? Since both my parents are gone, I will never know the point, if ever, that my father stopped thinking of himself as a hyphenated person. So, does that mean that as soon as the black stops with the African-American label, we will have gotten over that problem ?

I am sure I can be considered naive, based on that last sentence. I will probably be reminded that I can not know what it’s like being black in a white society. That is definitely true, although soon our melting pot will not be the colour white, but brown. However, how come the Latinos and Asian folks, to my reckoning, do not verbalize the same affliction ? How come only the Blacks express their contempt with the society they help build, and defend ? Is the slave memory still too fresh, unlike the Asian and Latinos, who were slaves in their history but not here, not have the sense of the whip to recoil from being builders of their own narrative ? What am I missing ?

Second, if racism is an underlying problem as important as it seems, at least to some Boomers, why are our leaders not addressing the issue in an open and frank way ? Our society is a diverse melting pot, an economic necessity today, something that we need to embrace and grow. Why isn’t Obama, now that he is not facing an election, discussing this issue every day ? He talks in generalities about drug wars, gun cultures, and housing issues, but does not use the bully pulpit to sow understanding. If not him, then whom ? Basketball players ?

Donald Stirling, the NBA owner who ignited this current firestorm, was discriminatory in the past, when he tried to exclude blacks from his housing projects. Personally, Stirling is entitled to his opinions, as we all are, to a limit of exciting hate, which he has not done. I would not want to listen to him or live in his projects, but I accept his right to speak his mind in the privacy of his own house. Wow, if we have to watch what we say 100% of the time, we would all be in trouble. Nevertheless, Where are our leaders and the middle ground ? Where is the rush to understanding ? Stirling may represent a generational issue, but they will soon pass into history, just like those who did not want to give women the vote !

Third, do I sound like I blame the blacks for perpetuating their situation ? While I did not live through the Irish gang wars, the insults and cultural challenges that their poor and uneducated family’s had to endure, I can try to emphasize with their struggles, and use this insight to understand the blacks mindset. Interestingly, it is well known that some immigrants return home, not able to adjust to our melting pot, at least not in the timeframe they are comfortable with. I wonder how many blacks have returned to Africa ?

We are all from someplace else, including the Natives – they just came over earlier than the rest of us. There are villains and hicks in every culture, serial killers do not have a singular DNA, and bigots are universal. One could extrapolate then that the reason that the blacks make such a fuss, when everyone knows there are Donald Stirling’s in this world, is because they reason that this is the best way to end racism as they know it ?

Lastly, what bothers me the most, and I expect most Boomers would agree, is being blamed for something I have not done ! Single out the bigots when you can. but do not use too wide a brush in condemning the rest of us. I have two daughters, grown-ups, who try to educate me on today’s society ( really. werewolves and vampires !!! ). I have different views, but I am trying to sharpen my listening skills, to understand the evolving world around us, so I can both fit in, and help change it for the better. Incarceration rates, educational opportunities, and housing issues, I am listening ?

To this end, who can send me a couple of paragraphs on what it is like to be Black in North America, why that experience is different from a Polish-Englander or French-Canadian, and a couple of things I could do to help the cause.

Next on Boomers – wtf !, you will be nudged, and will enjoy it !

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