Light/Breezes

Light/Breezes
SUNRISE AT DEATH VALLEY-Photo by Tom Cochrun

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

WHO IS RACIST? WHAT'S WITH THE SUSPENSION? and SEEN ALONG THE TRAIL

SLIDING BACKWARDS
     An agonizing disappointment to boomers is the new crop of racism that seems to be the spearhead of a wave of bigotry and narrow mindedness in the US.
     We spent the early and mid 60's fighting to end segregation, American apartheid and blatant discrimination. The entire culture was swept up in the drama and federal legislation moved to excise intolerance and set up an even playing field, imperfect and flawed though some of the legacy efforts have been. Feminism followed in that wake, connecting with efforts of earlier generations of suffrage campaigners to even the score for women. Still it seems as though it has been for naught.
      New studies and reports find a complex mix of racist attitudes in American today. Some of the young, the reports say, don't know or have not been taught what discriminatory or prejudicial behavior is.  "Post racial" is a term that is used.
      Then there is a poster child of our new dilemma, the matter of NIGGER. Some of you maybe offended seeing it here. Back in our youth it was a phrase never used in civil or polite conversation. Today its use is a map of how confused we seem to have become. Is it OK for African Americans to use the term, but not for anyone else? Though people of color divide on this. Is it wrong for a Caucasian to criticize its use or even to use the word? Depends on who you ask, doesn't it?  
       Remember the early argument about weather Black's could be racist?  Some who suggested that a person of color could also be a racist were themselves called racist. Today most agree that a person of any color or ethnicity can also be guilty of being racist, ethnocentric or bigoted in other ways.
        LGBT people have probably garnered more media attention for their struggles for equality in the last few years, though old fashioned racism has not disappeared. Classism stalks modern western life even as women still fight to overcome, the barrier being their birthright.
        From where I stand on this planet there is plenty of evidence of narrow mindedness, discrimination, fear, prejudice and hatred. The targets are men and women of all color, all ethnic origin, all gender identity or sexual preference. And so too are the perpetrators.
       It is easy to paint the broad stroke villain as being white men-Anglos/Normans/Saxons and in America in particular there is a sad history of invasion, genocide, land theft, broken treaties done by our government run mostly by white men. However there are many other guilty of such insensitivity and crimes around the globe with different casts of color, ethnicity, heritage and land of birth. We know that Africans too were partners in the horrible sin of slave trading. Patriarchy is written into the history of cultures north, south, east and west. American white men are in fact easy targets for criticism, but then if that is all who you see as offenders, you suffer tunnel vision and are not looking on a large enough scale of history and geography.  
      One of the most economic and employment vulnerable
today are legions of men, 50 plus, who were dislocated by the Great Recession and who are still out of work, unemployable or underemployed. Who in today's political climate are likely to carry their banner? Perhaps I should go cautiously here, less some of the dunderheads in our legislative branch of government who fail on intelligence about or understanding and sensitivity to half of the human specie, just might pick up that standard.  
     Our ability to find a commonweal, a set of normative values, a framework of equality, a true open-mindedness is honorable and necessary work for this democratic republic. It will be challenging, painful and will demand our better angels. To continue as we are with confusion, ignorance, rampant narrow-mindedness and condoned bigotry will lead only to apocalyptic political and cultural landscapes.

SEEN ALONG THE TRAIL
      On a recent hike I saw a couple of young California Striped Racers crossing the trail, enjoying the sun.
     The area was the scene of a recent "controlled burn."
     The sky was a palate of contrails.
HATS OFF TO THE SAN LUIS OBISPO TRIBUNE
   The paper editorialized today that William Randolph Hearst would have approved of Lady Gaga's recent adventure at his famous Castle, now a state park.  Nick Franco, the highly respected local State Park Supervisor has been suspended, for mysterious reasons, since approving of Gaga's use of the Hearst Castle for a production shoot.  
    Lady G paid some $300 thousand for the use, left additional funds to underwrite a water use study, did a promotional piece and a public service message about water conservation. The Hearst Corporation approved "loaning water" and the entire undertaking. Governor Jerry Brown wrote approvingly to Lady Gaga.
    The paper hints that perhaps some bureaucrat's nose may have been out of joint. Maybe or she is angry they missed their moment of closeness to her Lady G.
     Tsk, tsk, tsk.  Stay tuned.

    See you down the trail.  

5 comments:

  1. I wrote of this experience in my notes just yesterday as it has been bothering me every since last week when it happened. While in Florida Thursday, I was at the local store picking up a birthday cake for my father in law's 90th birthday. The store was quite busy. While waiting, I struck up a conversation with the man waiting next to me. He just happened to be black. Finally the lady behind the counter, not knowing who was first in line, looked directly at me and said may I help you? I looked at the gentleman I had been talking with and he smiled and said to me, "I'm used to it." I just felt kinda sick inside. Was the woman aware of what she had done? Yes. no doubt about it. She favored me over the him because I was white. Having lived in such a multi cultural part of the country for so many years, I've never experienced something like that. I'm still bothered by the experience as it so blatantly demonstrated that racism is alive and well. As much as I dislike saying it, it just fed my previous "bias" regarding Florida.

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    1. I had an experience with an acquaintance of mine who is a rabid Republican. I told him during a conversation that much of the irritation of the far right with Obama is because he is a black man. He vehemently denied that racism was at all to blame. We agreed to disagree. Sad.

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  2. I watched "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" last night on TMC. Still as powerful and poignant and topical today as it was in 1967.

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