Thursday, October 4, 2007

Racial Divides

This morning’s paper was enough to make my blood boil. Story after story was based on racial discrimination. It began with the tale of a deaf student held hostage and painted with symbols of the KKK, then moved on to the horrible tale of Llibagiza’s Rwandan experience that culminated in her beatific ability to forgive, and then on to Dallas where the good old American tradition of hateful race relations keeps on keeping on.

The straw that broke my back, though was the letter to the editor from Ron Reese who thinks that affirmative action is discriminatory and that there was no racially based privilege in this country prior to 1960. What rock has this guy been living under?

Prior to 1954, Mr. Reese’s family might have felt like there was no racially based privilege because his race had full control of all the privileges. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, anyone other than a Caucasian or those who could pass for Caucasian was ever granted equal status with us Wasps.

Affirmative action is not the extension of special privileges to people other than Wasps. It is the extension of equal access to the same rights enjoyed only by Wasps up until its passage. If it now and again offers a job or a service to a person of color while rejecting a Wasp with better qualifications, it is a slight that doesn’t even come close to the societal slights that narrow minded Wasps like Mr. Reese continue to wish they could impose on people of color.

Without affirmative action, the black people of this country would not have been able to enjoy the wide-ranging acceptance they now find. Without affirmative action and desegregation, we Wasps would never have been privileged to learn about, participate in and be welcomed by the culture of African-Americans. Without the Civil Rights Act and subsequent measures taken to level the playing field for all races, this country would have necessarily been riven by racially generated anger of much greater intensity than exists here today.

Given the continued and growing negative attitudes of people like neo-Nazis and other racial haters, there is no doubt that we are in for more racially based anger in the future, but we ought to expect that until the day comes when we can finally accept one another for the content of their character as Rev. Martin Luther King dreamed we one day would.

Be still Mr. Reese. Consider that you nor I nor anyone else in the world is any better than anyone else in the world because of the color of their skin. Then focus for a minute on the beauty and power of Ms. Llibagiza’s ability to forgive and then, even though her skin is darker than yours, try to become one-half the person she is and understand that we are trying, through affirmative action to seek forgiveness for the wrongs of our past. To seek forgiveness for our transgressions is as powerful an act as to forgive, so if all races can achieve that, we will at last be on equal footing.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

No comments: