And The Fight Goes On…And On

I’ve been around a few years now and seen and done some things. Today many young people think grass roots activism is something new to their generation. Thinking about this, at least in my generation, Social Activism has been around for a long time, spanning many, many generations. You can’t know what you don’t know.

I remember birth control or, “The Pill”. No one considered out of the gate that for the first time in history, Women will have control over their reproductive system. What the adults around me thought, and perhaps some still do, is only, “Dirty Women”, want the pill. Dirty in this perspective was not referring to the lack of hygiene.

DDT, the pesticide was sweeping its way around the world, touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Initially a few groups of people saw it for what it was, the greatest poison ever unleashed. It wasn’t until California Condors were almost extinct, that the rest of the country got on board. It was looking grim for several years, and some species still have not recovered from DDT.

Women’s Liberation! Following in the footsteps of, “The Pill”, Women’s Liberation swept the country. From control over their bodies, Women wanted control of their destiny. Women were once again demanding their right to equality. This time very loudly. The most common symbol of the time were ‘bras’ going up in literal flames in public happenings; meeker women showed their support by leaving their bras at home. What scandal that was!

Equal Rights. Who did those people think they were? Don’t they know their place? This was an all too common sentiment around the country. Thankfully the Hippies and those of this generation changed opinion, and changed the country a little, the fight unfortunately still continues for Racial Equality.

Social Change is momentary, the poison doesn’t get vanquished. Keep fighting for what’s right.

Three Huggers. People who saw the value in ancient and modern forests, and wanted to put an end too deforestation and destroyed habitat. They were out there in front of the Logging Companies, ringing trees with their bodies, and driving spikes into trees to destroy chain and other saws, should an attempt be made to harvest them.

Viet Nam War and Government Disobedience. Up until this period, too many people ignorantly put their trust in Government, like so many people do today. They relinquished their civil liberties because they foolishly thought the Government knew best, and would protect them and keep them safe.

It took a horrible war in a far off land to wake people and open their eyes. Mostly Sons who were slated for the draft and their Mothers. Followed shortly by returning War Veterans who saw the senselessness of what was being done first hand.

These activists and protestors changed how we felt about war and the killing of our finest young men in war. It was all too easy before for old men to send young men off to be killed and maimed in war. At least we stopped the draft.

Then I became married and the world moved on around me. Movements came and movements went. Protests and protestors were viewed under different light depending on the year. Being a Father and Husband, I had to focus on family, and let the world take care of itself. I made a mistake.

The ozone layer problem came and went, as I did my small part, while others gave it the fight it deserved. In less than a year, most of the world understood the problem, and came up with a fix. End of the world diverted for real this time.

Now we have a Global Warming, and are slowly becoming aware of what we have done and are doing to our planet. Once again, old men are only interested in money, and care little about the lives of their Grandchildren, as if having money makes destroying the world all right.

My point to all this, is this. Many of the issues and problems of today, I thought were resolved in turn as I grew up. The problem is old habits and old thinking diminish slower than we grow up and grow old. Scared selfish people will never go away, and they will revert every good we do if not prevented from doing so.

Keep fighting, but don’t fight wearing rose colored glasses. What seems like winning the war of a very important cause today, will prove to be a minor skirmish in and ongoing campaign, as the years roll by you. You can’t slow down and rest on your achievements. Your victories will be challenged all through your life and you will find, you’re never done.

Skin Color and Sports, Looking Back, Living Forward

I watched the movie, 42 today. I remember being a kid and watching Jackie Robinson playing ball. I was too young to know the story behind Jackie Robinson playing ball. All I knew was he was a quiet serious player, and he was darned good.

Jackie Robinson took care of business on the filed. I never heard, or understood the word professional at that age. I never heard the word racism either. All I knew by the time I was old enough to watch baseball was Jackie Robinson was one heck of a palyer, and he seldom spoke.

Growing up in rural Minnesota, I did not know much about baseball and race. In 1962 I knew we had a hot hitter on the Twins roster, named Tony Oliva. Tony Oliva struck fear when he moved to the major league on the Twins roster. Tony Oliva was one of the best batters in the league coming into the league.

Until the end of his first season he was a hot batter. By the end of his first season, Tony Oliva could not get within four feet of home plate. Pitchers would throw the ball at him. I thought as an ignorant to how the world works kid, there was a battle between Tony Oliva, and the Pitchers over who own the plate and the batters box.

When the Civil Rights movement started to make national news, I never made the connection between Civil Rights, Jackie Robinson, and Tony Oliva. I always believed Jackie Robinson was the consummate professional, and Tony Oliva was pressured away from the plate because he was too powerful a batter.

Today, after the movie 42, it becomes clear what the real issues were. Jackie Robinson was a professional, because he had to be. Tony Oliva shied away from the plate not because the pitchers of the day did not want him to hit off of them. They both were the way they were because of the people who did not believe they belonged on a professional baseball field with white players.

Sometimes we forget we are a little planet, with no place to move to. Every generation repeats some of the wrongs previous generations lived under. I know the day is coming when skin color and sexual preference will no longer be an important. I hope we do not lose ground as we walk down the road to get there.

It is up to you now. It is your responsibility to ensure that the path to equality is not lost. The cost has been to high for you and your generation to forget how it used to be, and not strive to make it better. Make yourself proud. When you see a wrong, do what you can to right it. Don’t settle for good enough. Remember too, hate and ignorance do not have boundaries.

Paula Dean and the Diversity Myth

The whole world seems to be looking at Paula Dean. Paula Dean’s problem is she was taken to task for what she said in private. The world is full of Paula Dean’s. They are made up of people of every race and color. In Paula’s case, someone wanted to punish her for their own reasons, and Paula Dean allowed herself to be vulnerable using her private language.

Too many of us have two separate vocabularies. One language we use when we are around people we feel safe with, and a second language we use when we are in public and strangers can overhear us. An example is attending a minority viewpoint political rally. You know the one some of us would like to attend but won’t because we know deep down it’s wrong?

Pretend you are going to one. Make it whatever cause you personally would not feel comfortable going to because of what the rally members stand for. The rhetoric you will hear is public rhetoric. Words strung together to show the world they are really good people who’s beliefs are not quite main stream.

What is heard publicly is not the language and raw expression used among the inner circle of the trusted ones. That other language is course, and demeaning in every respect. If these splinter groups thought they could do it, you would hear what they really think, but it won’t happen in public.

One people, one race

We make the world go ’round because we are one people trying to enjoy our individual lives.

Some time ago, I was asked by a little boy as his parents looked on in horror, “…if I was a, ‘real white man’. The little boy said he had never seen one close up before and did was not sure if I was a ‘real white man’, or not. His parents were of course were beyond embarrassed. It was obvious they used two sets of language, their private language, and their public language. The little boy of course, was not old enough to know the difference, and crossed a line his parents would have rather avoided.

While the rest of the world is blasting away at Paula Dean because her private language has been made public, take the time to look a little closer to home. Do you use or do you allow people in your life to speak two languages? A private language and a public language?

Paula Dean is an old semi racist woman who was found out. That is what she was raised to believe, and that is how she will probably die. Her time on earth is limited, and she and those like her will fade away over the next years. You and your friends on the other hand are young. Every day influencing and reinforcing your inner circle of friends and family with language and thought each and every day.

We must drop our behind closed door language and start speaking with respect to those not like us publicly and privately. Whether they are different because of their skin color, sexual, religious, or personal beliefs, they are us. We are a floating little blue marble in a huge ocean of nothingness. Yet we continue to think there are other choices than getting along without accepting each other.

Differences between people is good for us. We get bored with ourselves. We can’t compare ourselves to ourselves, we need someone else. Other people help make life fun, and interesting. Of course we have to be fun and interesting ourselves and we can’t be fun until we drop the pretense of being a different better.

Anyone who has a public and private set of words they use is really a pretty boring person. They are a one trick pony and can not see past their own nose. Their conversation is rarely spontaneous and very controlled. They can’t fool anyone for long about who they really are. Don’t be one of those boring people.

Can We End Afro American Affairs in America?

I listened to a morning radio talk show about current events this morning. The topic of discussion was an event happening this week. The Event was, “The Current State of Afro-American Affairs in New Mexico”. I hope I have the title right. If I do not it is close to what I typed. I also read there is a nationwide event(s) of the same type.

When the Civil Rights movement of the sixties came along, it was overdue. Like the oppressed state of Women and Children in America before 1900. It was well past time for White America to be forced to integrate. Integration was what some of White America did not want to do. I thought optimistically by the seventies, certainly by the eighties, Whites and Blacks were about as integrated as we were going to get.

We were mostly going to the same schools, mixing together in churches, parks, and other activities. Intermarriage between Whites and Blacks though not welcomed with open arms, was happening; increasing in numbers each year. I thought we had at long last accomplished what should have happened one-hundred years earlier.

Now it is 2012 and the world is going to end in a few months – if you believe some accounts. The global economy, and by default the U.S. economy is circling around the toilet bowl, ready to disappear down the drain, never to recover. Some people think the world, if it does not end, is about to fall apart. Feudalism and/or anarchy will return to replace current political systems.

It is the end of times as we know it, and here we are still discussing the state of Black America and what yet needs to be done. This is almost mind boggling to me. Here we are connecting the world through computers, shrinking the world, and tying our country economies to one big global economy. One people on a small blue marble we call Earth. We have not yet allowed Black America to be responsible for itself, or join mainstream America. Something still keeps us apart.

If I were part of Black America, I think I would renew the words, “Let My People Go”. Let my people join fully into the American way of life and remain a part of American life. Let my people rise and fall under the same rules White America lives under. Let my people find their own way through their lives on the same terms as the rest of America does. Let my people become masters of our destiny. Let the rest of America be relieved of the burden of caring for and coddling Black America.

We needed the civil rights act. We needed other bills and laws that were passed so Black America could become part of America, and not remain a separate but equal people. Each day, we have people from all over the world coming to America, and becoming part of the American Dream. Isn’t it about time we allow and encourage Black America the do the same?

Maybe it is too simplistic to think that all Americans are equal. Driving from one side of the city to the other side of the city supports this thought. We are not all equal in every respect. If we substitute the world for the city, it is even more obvious there is a huge disparity in the quality of life around the world.

This disparity may never be erased around the world, but it can be here in America. Isn’t it time for America to insist all her citizens have the same opportunity to be one people instead of a group of people sharing a lopsided ownership with their brothers and sisters of a different skin color?

When we have children and our children grow up, we cut the apron strings so to speak. We do this to help our children to join and take their place in adult society. Don’t we have the same obligation to another group of Americans?

Most of us live up or down to the expectations others have of us. These conferences on the state of Afro-American affairs makes me wonder why Black Americans are not able to compete on equal footing with the rest of America, and need to be taken care of. This is not a thought that feels natural, nor is it formed easily.

It is time to let this thought go, and get on with being American in America. Being American should be special enough. It is for all the people who risk their life to get here illegally. It is for all the people who immigrate here legally. Why isn’t it enough for those of us that already live here?