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Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Necessary Dialogue on Race

No, this isn't another diary about Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and the Capitol Hill Police affair, so heave a big sigh of relief and keep reading. This diary is more to the point of making a request of Kossacks, and hopefully, through out the blogsphere.


To have this dialogue about race is going to require a degree of honesty about ourselves which, by it's very nature, frightening. We always want to think of ourselves as individual thinkers and doers; we treat our fellow man or woman with the respect and courtesy that we want shown to us - it is a hard sell to think that we could actually be bigoted in our thinking or our perception of another human being who may not look like us, dress like us, have different ways they worship God, love in different fashion than typical man/woman relationships.

Yet, when discussing incidents like the McKinney incident of the past few days, what was featured on this blog and other blogs, as well as radio and television, demonstrated that when it's considered okay to voice bigoted thoughts and perceptions without the fear of being labeled "politically incorrect", the veneer of civility is cast aside and those who have longed to give voice to their actual thoughts of bigotry, run towards it as a naked toddler runs through the house after you have given them a bath and they are all innocent, sweet-smelling and free of a diaper, LOL.

Last night on the Daily Show, one day after Jon Stewart appeared to join the masses who were banging away on the McKinney incident, Stewart appeared to have sat down and did some deep thinking about race himself. While parodying last night, Stewart's episode forced some deep thinking about race and race relations in America. Using a news segment that featured Rob Corddry as a racist was a priceless satire and worth a repeat in the near future, for while it made us laugh, it should have also made us think.

Corddry's "struggle" to get us to accept his "racism" was a mocking satire that was a stinging commentary on those who want to be so narrow-minded in their thinking, and limited in their life experiences. Interfacing with different people of race and gender, or sexual orientation and religious beliefs, has made my life that much more richer, because you seek to come together on things that we can all universally agree upon. It was such a gathering of races, ethnicities, gender, and yes, even sexual orientation, while engaging in circular dissent, nontheless, found a way to a common cause of equality, justice, dignity and inclusion for all, based upon the content of one's character and not their skin color, ethnic heritage, religious or sexual orientation, even though sexual orientation or religion wasn't specifically mentioned at the time of the Civil Rights Movement.

We all remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's "I have A Dream" speech; in fact, it's been played so much during Black History month, we should have it memorized.

Yet, we are not living his Dream. We are still a nation divided along racial, religious, and now, economic class lines. And because I work in the field of Equal Opportunity, I can tell you that we field calls from the embassies here in DC because they want to know how to deal with the racial and economic conflict in their countries, and they look to America as the model.

America can show them the way, but it requires cleaning up our own houses, first, before we can help other countries live as a nation united. Therefore, this dialogue on race is necessary and mandatory, if we're going to continue to be the United States of America. I'm not going to say forget about George Bush, because in large part, his Administration consisting of neo-conservatives who are closeted bigots, is responsible for a divisiveness that hasn't been seen since the 1960s. And we must be willing to do the inventory and soul-searching of our individual selves that facilitates the deep honesty that has to come to the table when having this discussion.

I will throw out the first pitch: African-Americans; those who have considered themselves to have "made it", stop trying to forget those who haven't gotten where you are yet. Stop giving up on them, and in turn, the rest of us. Stop the "pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps" context, when you know you work for people who won't give Black Americans the boots they need to pull themselves up, and you condone their treatment of us. Long ago in our history, becoming the first "Negro Anything" meant that you not only set the standard; you kicked down the door and held it open to bring someone else through it, be they African-American, Latino, Asian, Native American, or a White Female. Those of you who think you don't have to do this anymore (i.e. Condi, Clarence and Colin), you don't get to play the "race card" when the establishment you sought to become a part of, to the detriment of your ethnic brethren, slings you under the bus. I am awaiting Condi Rice's whining any minute, now that Don Rumsfeld has done just that, like he undermined Colin Powell. Guess Condi didn't get the memo.


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