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January 16th, 2017

They Still Hate Him

…even some of us white Americans. This came up in my news feed this morning from the New York Times…

Which Martin Luther King Are We Celebrating Today?

“Every year on the third Monday of January, Americans of all races, backgrounds and ideologies celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is rightly lionized and sanctified by whites as well as blacks, by Republicans as well as Democrats.

“It is easy to forget that, until fairly recently, many white Americans loathed Dr. King…”

Until fairly recently??  On what planet?  But never mind…  I lived through that period. I was an eighth grader when he was murdered. They hated him more than all the others back then. Malcolm X…Stokely Carmichael…Huey Newton… they hated King with a passion totally absent from their fear and loathing of the others. Because King claimed the moral high ground, and spoke from the roots of his religious faith in a completely authentic way that the segregationists could not.

Most of all they hated him for that.

Read this Times opinion piece for its clarity of the history of conservative appropriation and inverting of King’s activism…turning it against the very struggle for civil rights and equal justice that he championed, and eventually gave his life for. In the software trade we have a phrase to describe what the republicans did: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.  

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on They Still Hate Him

August 19th, 2014

You Should Wonder About This From Time To Time…

Walking in to work this morning, I came across a small and very old woman trying hard to push her loaded grocery cart across the street before the light changed. She didn’t make it, so I stood out in the street and waved oncoming traffic around her. She looked to be going from the big new Giant into the rowhouse neighborhood just down the street from that intersection which wasn’t too far for her to go. But at that age nobody moves very fast either.

She began struggling to get her grocery cart up over the curb and onto the sidewalk and I walked over to help her.  It took me back years.

I was raised by a single working mother, and grew up in a household that couldn’t afford a car until I was well into my teens.  One of my duties as the “man of the house” was pushing the loaded grocery cart back home from the store a couple miles away. It wasn’t difficult, not even for a young boy. If you balanced the load just right on the wheels once you got it moving it was pretty much easy to keep it moving.

foldable_shopping_cart

When I was 7 or 8 and I would look down at the wheels and pretend I was driving a car.

Nowadays the grocery carts have four wheels on them.  I suppose that’s for older people like the lady I was helping just then, who couldn’t always keep a two wheeled cart balanced. We struggled together getting her cart up off the road and onto the sidewalk, she had the thing pretty well full. I’m guessing it was her food for the next couple weeks. But we got it up and she thanked me and went on her way, happy I hope to see a little politeness still left in the world.

I looked up. The light had turned red again and a city police car was stopped right there at the crosswalk. The cop inside was looking at me, smiled and nodded and I smiled back and went on my way. I suppose it does the police good to see people actually helping each other out from time to time too.

…and then I wondered what would have happened had I been a young black male and he saw me and that old woman struggling there with that grocery cart.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on You Should Wonder About This From Time To Time…

July 18th, 2013

A Wee Correction

“The attorney general fails to understand that self-defense is not a concept, it’s a fundamental human right of white people.” -NRA Executive Director Chris Cox

Fixed it for you Chris.  You’re welcome.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Wee Correction


Thugwear

Something that needs to be understood about this notion that his wearing a hoodie meant Trayvon Martin’s was a thug or a thug wannabe, is if young black men started wearing bow ties they’d be calling bow ties thugware.  And all the nice people living in those gated communities would be telling each other that it’s the bow ties, not the color of their skin, that makes them thugs.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Thugwear

July 13th, 2013

The Vigilante It Is…

Zimmerman walks, which is the outcome we should all have expected from Florida, but still…

I was born in the early 50’s and spent most of my grade school years in the 1960s. During that time, probably largely due to the homosexual panics of the 1950s, I got tons of warnings in and out of school about being followed by strange men and how I shouldn’t let them get too close and needed to fight like hell if one of them tried to grab me off the street because I might never be seen again. Maybe they teach kids differently these days, but one of the most striking things to me in this whole episode is Zimmerman could stalk a teenage boy and get away with shooting him dead by claiming that he was mortally afraid of him and people keep saying with pious straight faces that Martin shouldn’t have fought back and because he did Zimmerman was justified in killing him and his race has nothing to do with that.

Seriously. Who tells teenage boys to just do whatever the strange man with a gun tells them to do and everything will be all right? I’m not trying to be snarky here. If you subtract Martin’s race from this, then all the people saying that Martin caused his own death by fighting back are not making sense. That Martin, if (If) he took a swing at Zimmerman, did because he was afraid is obvious. Unless you think that young black men don’t need any reason to try and kill someone with their bare hands because they’re all just animals really.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Vigilante It Is…

February 20th, 2013

White History Class

I’m seeing this other hashtag flying across my Twitter feed… #whitehistoryclasses…and it puts me in mind of a story I’ve been meaning to tell for a long time in this space.  Charitably, when some of us white folk assert there is no systematic racism in this country because all the No Coloreds signs have been taken down, we are being merely clueless.  There is more to it than that.  I know from personal experience, and I strongly suspect most of us white folk know it too…or would if we wanted to.  Gather round the campfire boys and girls, and I’ll relate a little White History for you.  A piece of mine anyway.

It was the late 1970s, and I was in my twenties and desperate for work.  But I had a reliable car, a little Ford Pinto sedan that was bought and paid for…bought with so few options (it literally didn’t even have a cigarette lighter, although the wiring for one was there in the dashboard) it was easy to work on myself, and über reliable.  And I loved to drive it.  So one avenue I kept looking at in the Help Wanteds were all the ads for couriers.  If I could combine my love of driving with a job that required me to drive places would be ideal…or so I thought.

Problem was, all those ads listed detailed knowledge of the roads in downtown Washington D.C. as a requirement, and not only did I not know downtown all that well, I absolutely hated driving there.  Traffic was a horrible and parking was a nightmare all day long.  So I kept looking hopefully for a listing from a service that needed someone to work the suburbs instead.  And lo and behold, one day I saw one.  Must know Montgomery County Roads…said the ad.  Well…I was their man!

So I darted out to the address on the ad, supremely confidant that I would ace whatever test they threw at me.  Hello…says I.  I’m your man.  I’ve lived here practically my entire life.  I know Montgomery County roads like I laid the asphalt myself.  Well…says the owner of the courier service, an elderly man who from the look of him could have retired decades ago…we need to test that for ourselves.  And they put me in a small room and gave me a sheet of questions.  Describe how, exactly, you would you get from point A to point B.  This is going to be a piece of cake thinks I as I sat down.

But the first question asked about a route in downtown Washington D.C.  And…I couldn’t answer it.  So I skipped to the next question on the test which was…another question about directions in downtown Washington D.C..  And so was the next.  And the next.  They were all questions about downtown Washington D.C..

So I took the test back to the owner and told him I was sorry, but I could not answer any of it.  No worry, says he.  We’ll put a radio in your car, you will get your jobs from the dispatcher and if you get lost you can call for directions.  I needed the work, so I said well…okay…I can do that.  But…why did you write your ad as through you were looking for people to work in Montgomery County?

And I swear to god he patted my knee like he was my grandfather and said, “Oh, we wrote it that way so we won’t get any of them colored boys out here looking for work.”

Well…god forbid us white kids from the suburbs would have to compete with them colored boys from the city who probably know their streets like the backs of their hands.

So I hemmed and hawed and said I really didn’t want to drive in the city…but if you ever need someone to work out in the county give me a call…and I darted out of there.  I felt dirty in a way I hadn’t since I stood in a line of about twenty or so other guys and bent over and spread them for my pre-induction physical.  Later I sent in an anonymous letter to the county telling them about the ad and the service…but I didn’t actually call the man a racist to his face and walk out on him either.  I just didn’t have that kind of nerve back then.

No, I don’t know what it’s like to be a black guy in America.  But I know what it’s like to be a white guy.  And I know exactly how much was stacked in my favor.  Every one of us does.  Or could, if we really wanted to face facts.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on White History Class

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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