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My Grandson's Birthday Makes Me Think...

On September 6, my grandson, Jarod, turned three-years-old. Just like most children, he had a birthday party filled with family and friends.

What I love about my grandson is he will play with anybody. Unlike adults, he doesn't see race or sex--he just enjoys the idea of being a sociable little boy. That's why I so appreciate the fact that he has white playmates who also appreciate him for just being someone they like to play with.

But here's the deal. That is going to change at some point. Jarod is going to grow into a black male who may become someone whites are fearful of for no other reason than his skin color. The police may taunt him--may even shoot him and blame it on him. Jarod may even be shut out of getting jobs just because of his race and gender.

This is the world we, as baby boomers, have helped create. We talk about being the greatest generation ever--we helped make a difference with civil rights when we were young. But then we grew up and became greedy bank CEO's, scandalous politicians, Bible thumpin' preachers preaching hate from the pulpit. Surely you've heard the comments made by Tempe, Arizona Baptist preacher, Steven L. Anderson, about President Obama: “I'm not gonna pray for his good. I'm going to pray that he dies and goes to hell"

So here I am, as a baby boomer grandmother, trying to be hopeful for her grandson's future; still wanting to believe there is more good than evil in the world. Some people say we've come such a long way from where we were before with a black president and all. But have we really?

I ask the same quetion as Dr. Mike: Would Barack Obama have been elected president had he had Stantavious and D’Marquez as sons, as opposed to Sasha and Malia as daughters?

May God save our young black males...


Susan Adcox said…
I certainly empathize with your concern for your grandson, and the outpouring of vitriol against President Obama has me seriously considering moving to Canada! No, not really, I'm an American through and through, but I am thoroughly ashamed of the behavior of our lunatic fringe.

I do have some words of encouragement. One of my granddaughters goes to a suburban high school which is really remarkable for the diversity of its student body and for the way they accept each other. It is, however, in an area of higher socio-economic families. I believe that if our young black men and women work hard and become successful, they will face much less prejudice. Obviously, even such highly successful men as President Obama and Henry Louis Gates face prejudice even today, but not to the degree that they once would have.

I grew up in the fifties in the South. I have lived in an atmosphere of racial hatred. It is much better now than it was. That doesn't mean that we don't have to continue to work to make it better.
Anonymous said…
Great commentary...and thanks for opening up a honest dialouge.

I am a 38 yr old white woman living in NY and for many, many years, I thought that racism was a thing of the past. I rarely gave a second thought to skin color and didn't know many who did. Of course, you heard the occassional slang on TV or from an older relative, but truly I felt that race was irrelevant to the majority of people. It was nice to live in that happy place...even if only for awhile.

I suspect that in my part of the country, there is far less racism than in others, but it does exist. About five years ago while living in Boston, I had an awakening. I was on a bus going home and a couple of thugs boarded the bus and started yelling awful racist garbage. I felt like I was in a time warp. I was sitting next to a what seemed to be a perfectly lovely black woman - she sat perfectly upright and had a pink hat adorned with little flowers...the type of person who just made you smile. I felt AWFUL for her. I wanted so badly to stand up and tell them to stop their craziness, but mixed in with their racial slurs were stories about the prison from which they had just been released. I didn't have the courage. In the end, I wrote her a note to let her know how badly I felt, but when I turned around to pass it to her, she had gotten up to get off the bus.

Now I am feeling ashamed of the nonsense that is going on w/President Obama. I actually saw a woman CRYING on TV because her children would have to listen to "him". My jaw dropped. I remember speeches from Presidents in my childhood. I felt honored. It was important. What is this about?!?!? I don't know if it is about race or politics, but whatever it is, it most certainly is misguided.

I don't know where we go from here...taking it one step at a time doesn't seem enough. It breaks my heart to think that people need endure racism in 2009.

I have a 2 and 1/2 year old girl and a 5 year old boy and have made every attempt to make their world as diverse as possible. I DO think that Barack Obama has made a difference. My son often says that he wants black skin like his friend and the president (but he wouldn't take drugs like Michael Jackson to make his skin a different color because that could make him dead...that one is from his Dad...very poor choice of explanation...I guess he did his best on the fly, but OMG!). His Wii character is black. I know that seems trivial, but it is a part of who they are becoming and it is one of many small signs that race and skin color is slowly fading from our consciousness.
Beverly said…
I appreciate both of your comments on this blog post. I do want to believe the world has gotten better.

So many times we shy away from really expressing ourselves about racial issues. I believe you can never get past the hurt and anger without first addressing the situation head on. I don't mean by cursing and violence--but open and honest dialogue. Racism is deeply rooted. It's a sickness that eats away at everyone.

And no, don't ever think any comment you make here is "trivial" because it isn't.
Debra Stokes said…
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject, Bev. Unfortunately, racism is still alive in this country. The U.S.Open Tennis tournament is going on in New York. Just this morning I heard a quote by the late tennis great Arthur Ashe. I will paraphrase: while dying of AIDS, he said that although he had experienced great pain in his life, nothing compared to the pain he felt at being slighted because of his race. Think of that - a man whose life is literally seeping from his body and what is most painful? The erosion of the soul by racism.

When I read the comment by the women who lives in an affluent suburb, it made me smile with a bitter-sweet knowing. I, too, live in an affluent suburb. Raised two daughters here. The racism still exists, though perhaps in a more dangerous way because it is insidious.

It is true that every little bit helps, so if we each continue OUR efforts toward treating individuals with respect and dignity based on their character, it will get better.

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