Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Black, White And A Whole Lot Of Gray

If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination I will never forget the way she did it. Her current strategy has been dubbed the "Tonya Harding Strategy". That explains it all. If you can't win fair and square kneecap your opponent.

The first step in this is not letting the Reverend Wright controversy die. Nor the fact that Obama dubbed his grandmother a "typical" white woman. Thomas Sowell's column in today's Spokesman Review, The audacity if divisiveness takes it a step further.

Mr. Sowell, a black, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In his column he takes a younger Obama to task for the choices he made regarding friends and associations he chose during his university years to his voting record to how we should be particularly cautious of him now because he is on the precipice of the Presidency.

It got me to thinking about how I've come to grips with my own racial prejudices and I do have them. Why? I'm not sure other than the fact that we are different and over the years I've found some of those differences intimidating.

I understand Hillary Clinton far better because I am white and I am a woman. I understand from that perspective her hopes and aspirations, her drive, her sticking with a man who most of us would have shed because she sees him as a means to an end. Our culture, while her grand scheme was being formulated, required a front man to legitimize it. I believe that is why so many woman of my generation are so loyal to her. Look at all she endured to reach this point. She deserves her reward.

That I agree with little of it is neither here nor there. More important is what I don't understand about our black culture. Our university years are times of great explorations into who we are, who we want to become and how we might get there. We search out people who are unlike ourselves to learn from them as much as we seek like minded people to validate our conclusions.

When I was in college I socialized with the international students. They were from all over the world including many from African nations, speaking with British accents for many had been educated in Great Britain. There was no segregation among them. They were students from foreign countries banded together as a community.

Even with that socialization I was ill at ease with American blacks. There weren't any that I can recall in my classes or dorm. After all I was smack dab in the middle of Iowa. But I do remember sitting in the student union when the star of our basketball team pulled up a chair and struck up a conversation. He was a good looking, light complected black and quite charming. I was flattered and apprehensive all at the same time. He ended up asking me to a movie. I hemmed and hawed and ultimately said no.

I never forgot his reaction. He sighed. "Look," he said, "there aren't any girls like me to ask out. I'm lonely and would just like to go to a movie with a girl. You looked nice." You have no idea how immediately and for how long I've regretted my reaction.

I still have those "typical" white reactions when I see a gathering on a nearly empty street. And I'm ashamed of them. But those reactions are as ingrained in me as the hatred of me for being so is ingrained in many of them.

Being half black and half white cannot protect Barack Obama from the race issue any more than being an all white female can protect me from it. He has addressed it eloquently and profoundly and made us uncomfortable because of it.

To continue to hammer the issue of what Reverend Wright has said on isolated occasions without knowing the full context of his ministry seems unfair. For Obama to explore the black side of his heritage seems to me to be a natural course of events.

Having done so he seems to have a far better grasp of what's needed to overcome the racial divide than merely walking away from a congregation the rest of us know little about.

All of you who have adopted children of a different race, don't think for one minute that at some point in their lives they are not going to wonder about their roots.

Also, at some point in time we are going to have to take a leap of faith. Whether it's this man at this time has yet to be determined. I, for one, don't want to continue patronizing my own prejudice. With Hillary it's a known entity - who she is, how she conducts her campaign and what the end is that she expects. It's all about Hillary.

With Obama, it's about us. If no one other than Mr. Obama and myself. He's trying to understand those like me and so am I. I'm also trying to understand those like him. It's a start.


Word Tosser said...

This is so well said... very good, Dogwalk Musing... very good...

The New Arch Druid's take on the news said...

Had you been over to my blog? I too had my own take on Thomas Sowell. Now, until I joined the Army I hadn't had that much exposure to African-Americans. When I went over seas to Germany, I took silent note of how often African-Americans would segregate themselves into little groups. I think I would have no doubts why, because of the preponderance of "whiteness." And remembering the black cook who insisted that I should go out with him or I could be deemed a "racist." I should be "shamed" into going out with a black guy? I let him know that the only bigotry I suffered from was with a..holes. He shut up and said nothing further.

Did I meet up with black v white bigotry. Yes, his name was Pettaway. He went around causing trouble for various service personnel who in particular weren't just like him in skin color. In fact, Pettaway was prepared to use a proxy, a friend of his to threaten me while I was still on the Panzer Kaserne post. Better than 20 years later, would I have justification to argue that I can and should have prejudices against blacks? No. Because my problems have always been with a..holes. Jerks know no color boundaries. And should Obama win the nomination, I a Republican would vote for him.

Idaho Escapee said...

I, too, haven't known many black people. It's not my fault I was raised in North Idaho, which was always an area where there weren't many minorities. But yet, one of the neatest people I knew when I went to North Idaho College was a black guy named Walter; he always had a sense of humor and a great laugh. I do know that a lot more white people have taken advantage of me than blacks, so maybe I should be prejudiced against Caucasians, of which I happen to be one. This whole race thing is tough, because from birth, we are ingrained with certain philosophies, outlooks, and, yes, prejudices. This is why I am hopeful for Obama, because he can seem to blur the color boundaries we have in this society. We have no control over the bodies that ended up housing our spirit. I have been discriminated against because I was fat, had curly, ratted hair, was bi-polar and any number of other things. I know fully well what it feels like not to have people like me for reasons I couldn't control. I don't like unjust oppression of any kind. It turns my stomach. Bobby Kennedy was another candidate who also bridged the gap between the races, which is why his death was so tragic. Blacks and whites alike supported him. Many of my favorite musicians are black; Miles Davis, the group "War", Sly and the Family Stone...we all have things we can teach each other. I don't blame you for acting the way you did when the black guy asked you to the were responding to something deep within you, beyond your control. But you're aware of that, which is also good. And maybe, that awareness in all of us can enable us all to treat each other more fairly, no matter what race we happen to be.

Anonymous said...

It was Dogwalk Musings who reminded me that, as Idaho is solidly red, the electoral votes will go Republican no matter for whom we cast our vote. Sigh...doesn't seem right. CU

Dogwalkmusings said...

True change, it seems to me, will be when all of the commenters above, myself included, can speak of jerks as jerks, and uniters as uniters without race ever being mentioned. It goes way beyond black and white; it applies to everyone who is deemed "different" in a particular circumstance.