Some may wonder why I mix the One Four Challenge with opinion pieces . . . I’m trying to keep under the radar.
What radar? Any radar.
This post deals with racism. I am fully aware that because I am a mostly “white” dude, just mentioning racism automatically labels me as a racist. Oh well; it can’t be helped.
Before I go on, here’s the “One” for the “One Four Challenge”.
I have to admit . . . it looks like fun. I am never going to do it, but it does look like fun.
Right! . . . racism.
I did not grow up in the US, so I was not aware of the amount of racial tension that permeated the society when, in 1966, we moved from Italy to Chicago. I was quickly introduced to it both through the violent protests of the 60s and through personal experience.
However, by the time I finished high school, I had a number of black friends, a few oriental friends, and a few latino friends. Oddly enough, I don’t recall any white friends. As an immigrant, I don’t recall my interactions with American whites with fondness.
In college, I had high hopes that racism would soon be only relegated to old folks too set in their ways to see the benefit of accepting people as they were. Unfortunately, in the early 70s something happened to my black friends (some of which were attending the same college I was).
They stopped interacting with me, going so far as to ignoring me when they were with their friends. For them, it had become fashionable to not have white friends. They were apologetic but yielded to their social pressure even as All in the Family and SNL were making strides in advancing the conversation about race.
I don’t think this skit could be shown today (unless, of course, as part of a documentary about the show or one of the actors).
In fact, watching it now as opposed to back then makes me self-conscious. Should I laugh? If so, where, and why? Might someone misinterpret the laughter?
. . . better not show any emotion and pretend I did not watch it lest anyone asks me what I thought.
Let me try a quasi-B&W treatment of surfers and waves . . .
Yes, definitively better when a little color is left in there to balance the gray.
Anyway, we graduated, married and moved to the Detroit area. Me working for Cadillac Motors, and Melisa working at Domino Pizza’s Headquarter. During those early days, as now, we had few friends, but some of our closest friends were a black couple (the woman worked with Melisa). We sometimes discussed race, and they sounded racist in their views toward ‘lower class’ blacks. I thought it strange.
A few years later they had marital issues, got into financial problems, and drifted away from our lives. Again, they did the drifting, not us.
Once I had my own company, we dealt with a smorgasbord of races, cultures, skin colors, religious backgrounds . . . like a mini-United Nations, we were. We only had one black engineer. Most black engineers were hired by the Big Three as soon as they graduated. Our employee opted to remain with us for a number of years, but eventually he also hired in at GM. Last I heard, he is still doing fine, but we have lost touch. Then again, I’ve lost touch with nearly all old friends, coworkers, and employees from my Michigan days.
I say all this not as a means of establishing cred, or saying anything about myself and my racial views other than this . . . In the last ten years, I’ve had limited multicultural and multiracial exposure. This is due to nothing more than the fact we keep to ourselves. In that regards, we’ve also had little exposure to other white folks. In fact, I can honestly say we avoid getting close to people without regards to race, political affiliation, or religion.
I mentioned the above to make clear that my previous multi-racial exposure was limited to people with high levels of education and social status. Ergo, I am not qualified to express opinions about racism and the state of it in the US as it pertains to the population at large, be they whatever race.
How about a different monochromatic treatment of the photo? Something that perhaps evokes more of a vintage feel.
Yeah! that’s not a bad look. Other than the tell-tale modern baggy swim trunks, one could mistake that for a picture of yesteryears.
So, this race thing . . . I’ve established my personal experience does not qualify me to present an in-depth analysis of the issue.
But, I do read a lot. I’ve read opinions, examples, news stories from people who are racists, people who are not, and from people of multiple colors but all belonging to the one and only recognized race; the human race. Some people have overly-simplistic ideas, others have impractical ideas and still others have good but difficult ideas.
. . . I have opinions. Like most of my opinions about current hot-button issues, it’s pessimistic. I think whatever road we traveled in the 60s and 70s has now turned into a tortured and difficult path that no one can safely navigate and that seems to lead nowhere good. It’s a complicated problem that requires new ways of thinking, new approaches, trust on all sides, and most of all, significant efforts by all involved.
Unfortunately, the people who get all the press all purport to have “easy” solutions.
I’m going to say this very carefully and as clearly as I can lest I’m classified as a racist. Who am I kidding? I look caucasian (one supposes), so by merely talking about racism, I must be a racist. Still, here goes nothing . . .
. . . I think the camps, whatever those might be, have become so polarized that discussion about real and demonstrable problems is near impossible. One thing is clear; no one wants to take any responsibility for anything.
Take a touchy subject like Ferguson. Yes, a white cop shot an unarmed black man. Yes, that happens too often. Yes, that’s related to a less-than-ideal environment and lack of opportunities for a large number of black young men. Yes, some of these incidents are race-related.
But, look at what happened. The weight of the federal government, the FBI and the Department of Justice, came down on the incident and took it apart with more effort and manpower and scrutiny of minutia than is afforded similar killings.
Meantime, the community exploded, demanding the cop be indicted, convicted, and sent to jail. Unfortunate that, especially when the Grand Jury failed to do so. We all know the result. Riots, violence, destruction of a community.
Celebrities got angry (they are always ready to interject their name into current affairs). Funds were set up for the legal defense of the protesters. A couple of high-profile self-styled black leaders said a lot of things that, intentionally or not, stoked emotions and drove nationwide demonstrations. Cops were killed in direct response.
Then the federal government came back with . . . yeah, a justified shooting not necessarily racially motivated, BUT, they said, look at all these other endemic problems. In fact, that’s what they focused on. Problems of racism, problems of abuse of power, problems of poor community relations, etc. etc.
What am I to make of all this? Me, a caucasian looking at the events from 2,000 miles away.
Not much . . . once demonstrators turned violent, once cops are killed in response, once the very symbol of the demonstration had been shown to be a lie (hands up was a popular thing for everyone to do), there is not much I can do to condone it no matter the underlying reasons. The shooting was not what it had been made out to be and I’m disappointed to hear people say “that’s OK because surely there are other shootings that fit the narrative.” I’m very disappointed at not hearing certain individuals stand up and admit they spoke too soon and admit they contributed to aggravating the situation.
We have a problem, but it is ill-defined, and thus any suggestions as to how to fix it are also ill-defined. There are legitimate concerns that need to be explored, but the opportunity to do so, at least in that instance, sailed out the window.
If I step back and think about this logically, I am left with a lot of questions and a queasy feeling. One, I think the Federal government has established a very bad precedent. Two, I can’t approve of “convictions by public opinion”. Three, we still have the original problem, but it’s not a cut-and-dry thing. The longer we avoid having a serious and frank discussion involving all sides and exploring multiple causes to the current state of affairs, the more we can look forward to violence, killings, and the eventual draconian government response.
We now have a situation where any killing, any incident, any instance if police action toward black suspects is seen as racially motivated and provokes an immediate response in the form of violent demonstrations even when black police officers are involved. Baltimore, anyone?
The broader issue is that at least parts of the underlying problem are tied to a sluggish economy and downward pressure on the middle class.
Sure, let’s provide education, programs, and all sorts of things to help disadvantaged individuals get a better chance at escaping cycles of violence and poverty. Some will argue that it’s not like a ton of money has not already been thrown at the issues, not to mention laws, programs, quotas, etc.
I can point to lots of success stories, but also continuing and seemingly not improving situations. I have a hunch that while racism is part of the problem, a significant part, it’s not the only issue we have to deal with. But, even mentioning my hunch will get me labeled as a racist. End of discussion.
Suppose we actually identify, address, and mitigate conditions that produce a large class of disenfranchised individuals. Now what?
There are “advantaged” college graduates working as baristas, slinging burgers and fries, and moving back in with their parents because of a lack of jobs (or because they are not trained in the right jobs.)
As I see it, it’s very difficult “moving up” in economic and social status if the next rung in the ladder you are trying to reach is coming down to meet you. Where are the jobs? I mean the “good” jobs? Where is the training for jobs we actually have?
As I said . . . very pessimistic. I don’t see improvements in the horizon. I don’t even see a path toward improvements. What I do see is a worsening situation. I said that to someone recently and they looked at me as if I was crazy.
Maybe I am . . . I hope I am. I hope I’m misreading all of this and we’re just around the corner from a better economy, less racial strife, more responsible government, reduced police militarization, and a large portions of the population who are truly colorblind.
Hey . . . paintings . . . who does not like paintings.
Since I will have more of these, I’m setting up a SmugMug Gallery HERE. Them interested can go look at the full-sized photos. Some of the ones coming up will definitively be worth a look.
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.