"We can see that the South has marvelous possibilities, yet in spite of these assets, segregation has placed the whole south socially, educationally, and economically behind the rest of the nation. Yet there are in the white south millions of people of good will whose voices are yet unheard, whose course is yet unclear, and whose courageous acts are yet unseen.
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but the appalling silence and indifference of the good people.
Our generation will have to repent not only for the words and acts of the children of darkness but also for the fears and apathy of the children of light."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 27, 1965
Dinkler Plaza Hotel
Everytime I'm in a discussion about this topic, I think about this passage of quotes. While it's not one from one of his many more famous speeches, it should be somewhat familiar to movie buffs.
It was played during a pivotal scene in the 1989 Oscar Best Picture, Driving Miss Daisy.
This is the last piece in my 'I'm Still Here...' series. While I have respected the rights of those who chose to go silent this past week, I decided to stay and speak out in my own way about how we got to this point. The series dealt with
The Progressive Agenda and Racism
The Progressive Agenda and How We Got to This Place
The Progressive Agenda and Hypocrisy
The Progressive Agenda and the Undiscovered Country
My aim was not to continue the meta, but to engage a heartfelt discussion about race relations among Progressives. I'm not the best writer in the world, but I gave it my best shot and I do appreciate the responses that I received -- whether I agreed or not, because the idea was to talk it out.
Now that others are returning to the fray, I hope that we all can use this space for reconcilation and moving ahead.
Some of the saddest stories that I would often read on political blog sites during the time that Bush was still in office was about how some progressives were at odds with their right wing parents, siblings and in-laws over politics.
Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed to be the worst time for many of them -- having to mentally prep themselves for what they would say if the topic of conversation 'goes down that road'. Others had stop speaking to their family members altogether because previous outings had gotten too contentious.
I would read these stories and I just couldn't imagine falling out with my family over some politics. Now don't get me wrong -- we had plenty of other stuff to fall out over. It's just that politics around my parts were more of a 'spectator sport' kind of discussion.
Also, everyone was generally in agreement.
Still, it would bother me that some random politician or political party would stand in-between a sister and brother, a son and mother, a sibling's spouse and so on.
I can't imagine the conversation -- or lack thereof, since President Obama has taken office.
Or maybe, I just don't want to. The awkward silence when someone says something critical of the President, because... it just doesn't quite sound right. It sounds... like...
You don't say anything, because of course, the President isn't above criticism.
Oh no. You've had your share of disagreements with the President over a number of things. Some rather strong disagreements, but that conversation coming from XYZ relative just sounds... like...er...
It is YOU who criticizes the President over something he did or said in front of your XYZ relatives.
And they suddenly look at you as if you had just grown 3 heads.
Suddenly you have betrayed your family and 15 generations of ancestors. How dare you.
Suddenly you wonder if you even belong in the same family with these folk...
You can take Dr. King's words above and substitute your own scenario.
Sometimes, I think that the Tea Party wants White Americans to choose -- to either stand with them and their narrow social order or go against them to choose a philosophy that mutually excludes them -- for basically excluding everyone else but them.
Or if you are Black and you disagree with the President, you somehow are seen as a race traitor and a disgrace to the whole Black race.
Unfortunately, when it comes to racism and all it implies, we Americans still have a lot of work to do. In some quarters the election of Barack Obama has given more license to bask in the realm of bigotry -- disguised as the new victimhood.
I also think that the election of the first African American President has served to bring latent sentiments to the surface, long buried by the need to focus on the more obvious and more blatant problems with racism.
It was easy when it just came from the obvious quarters.
It's not so easy when it hits home.
What does it mean to criticize the first African American President of the United States?
I'm sure that the answer spans the spectrum of opinions, but it basically falls in two camps:
1. It's no different than criticizing any other person who has held the office of POTUS.
2. It is different than criticizing any other person who has held the office of the POTUS.
Here's what I think. I think it comes down to pre-conceived expectations. I listened to a tape once about expectations and personal growth. What I got from it is that expectations have to be managed -- like everything else in life. You may have an expected goal to get from point A to point B, but that path may not be in a straight line. It is how we manage the journey that ultimately determines our success or failure.
When it comes to the expectation of others, we base it on what we know -- or what we think we know, is our expected outcome with respect to that person's actions.
I was discussing Obama with a colleague of mine recently and she said that she was disappointed and disillusioned with the President because he ran on themes of 'Hope' and 'Change' and at this juncture, we seem to have neither. Just for the record, we are both Black females.
I replied to her that for me, Mr. Obama's campaign was a means to an end. Like all wide-eyed new comers not yet burdened with the molasses called Washington D.C., he sought to raise the consciousness of an American populate that was witnessing its country fast forwarding itself into a certain oblivion. Clearly 'change' was inevitable. Either we get out of the car with Thelma and Louise or we go over the cliff and immediately crash and burn with them. However my concerns were more with his future as actually being the President than with him getting there in historic fashion.
I wrote a diary about The Undiscovered Country -- moving forward in the vast deep and dark realms of the unknowns of space and what happens when some people aren't ready for that journey.
We think we know how things should turn out based on our past experiences. When the outcome is not what we expect and the future is unfamiliar to us, it is a basic human instinct that we seek to retreat to our corners of comfort. When we do that, we become risk aversed to the journey.
There are those who have always sought refuse in those corners. They have no desire to change.
There are those who join in the journey but they think they know where it will lead.
Those who take the journey with managed expectations are the ones best equipped to make adjustments when the path takes a different direction.
No one is all right or all wrong when it comes to what we think. But when it comes to how we feel, it means more than anything.
Some how we need to learn to better manage our expectations in terms of what we think of our party's leader.
And we all need to respect each other's feelings about our party's leader -- for better or worse.
Because what we think and how we feel are two vastly different things, yet connected in sequence.
If we want a chance at improving our discourse on this website, this may be one place to start, because if we represent the party of change and hope, then we must resist our own apathy, fear and indifference. We must reject the insensitivites that we find so appalling in our opponents and we all must no longer stay silent when we know a wrong has been done.
That's how we move forward in a truly post-racial world.
Daisy Werthan: Boolie said the silliest thing to me just the other day.
Hoke Colburn: What'd he say?
Daisy Werthan: We were talking about Martin Luther King. I assume you know him.
Hoke Colburn: No'm, I don't know him.
Daisy Werthan: But, you've heard him preach.
Hoke Colburn: Yes'm... same way you have, on the TV.
Daisy Werthan: I think he's wonderful.
Hoke Colburn: What you gettin' at, Miss Daisy?
Daisy Werthan: Well, Boolie says you wanted to go with me to this dinner. Did you tell him that?
Hoke Colburn: No'm, I didn't.
Daisy Werthan: I didn't think so. What would be the point? You can hear him any time you like. I think it's wonderful how things are changing.
Hoke Colburn: Now, Miss Daisy, the tickets for this here dinner came in the mail a month ago. Bein' that you wanted me to go wit' you, how come you wait till we in the car and on the way there before you ask me?
5:08 PM PT: Sorry that I'm just getting to the diary to respond. I'm on travel. Thanks to all who replied.