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Getting down, and getting funky

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I remember the day when I, as a child, saw my first African-American.

Though I lived in an all-white neighborhood on the near Southwest Side of Chicago, the public school I attended from Kindergarten through Fourth Grade had a center for hearing-impaired kids, who came from all over the city. Some of them were black.

Eddie Chin, a Chinese- American, was a classmate of mine, so the notion that others might have skins which were a different color was not a shock. But the idea that there were dark brown people was. I ran straight home after school, and blurted out, "Mom! I saw a chocolate boy today!"

My parents were not paragons of racial enlightenment. But they struggled, by their lights, to be decent, tolerant people. Wisely, my mother seized upon my characterization to explain that yes, there were vanilla people like us- but there were also chocolate people, strawberry people (Native Americans), coffee-mocha people (Hispanics), and butter pecan people (Orientals), and that no flavor was better than any other.

I do not want to recommend this article. I want to flee from it; to run away from it, screaming. There is enough of the white liberal left in me to be intensely uncomfortable with the author's use of the term 'inferior' to refer to his own race, even though it is used chiefly for shock value and soley in the sense of condition rather than ontological essence.

But it's a helpful article, and the more people like Shelby Steele and Bill Cosby speak up, the closer we all will be to dealing with our mutual shame: the ongoing division of our society on the basis of something which ought to be no more significant than the flavor of ice cream we prefer.


Webcritter said…
This provides unpleasant food for thought, as well.
Bob Waters said…
I said I didn't want to recommend it. But it's the truth.
Bob Waters said…
Ah. I didn't see the link at first. I thought you were referring to my post.

It certainly does. In fact, "unpleasant" isn't the wordk
The North Carolina thing reminds me of a similar thing I encountered in Deaf Ministry, where there were Deafies who tried to act like Hearies, and hard-of-hearing or late-deafened people who insisted that they were "born Deaf" because they wanted to be accepted by Deafie culture. They even have a sign that is their analogue to "oreo"--call it hearing-brain. Audiologically deaf, but culturally Hearie.

Webcritter's link, and yours, really reinforce for me my conviction that color is more "accident" (in the Thomistic sense) rather than "essence" in this whole issue. There are folks who operate from a sense of responsibility, and there are folks who operate from a sense of entitlement. They are individuals, but the groupings that they are expected to participate in are cultures, not colors.

Personally, I have tried, and pretty much succeeded, to be truly color-blind.
Thanks for making my head and heart both hurt, Bob. Please accept my props and the offer of a Golden Aardvark. While checking the props, note the two posts by the CaribPundit, a Trini friend of mine.


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