Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend: Many Highs, One Low

Overall, the weekend was mostly grand. A sampling:

My buddy, Laura, and I participated in the Denver Arts Week by checking out their 'Night at the Museums' where they have a bunch of shuttle buses that visit all the museums for free. Favorite part: The 'Women of the West' exhibit, as part of the 'Denver at 150' at the Colorado History Museum. Weirdest point of the evening was being held captive in the Byer-Evans house while a community theater person rambled on and read us a letter from the Civil War era - which would have made some sense had we been in the South and not in the Rockies.

Laura & I met for breakfast the next morning at the Country Road Cafe, ate too much once again, and went for a gorgeous hike nearby at Pence Park. We discussed how living in Colorado has changed us - that our REI shopping list is often longer than our grocery shopping list. We also sat on a boulder, gazed across a snow-covered mountain range and discussed the idiocy of racism. As Laura observed, "What I don't get is, it's PIGMENT! PIGMENT, PEOPLE! I mean, really? The color of cells? That's what people are so upset about? I don't get it."

Post-hike, I had a horse lesson - meaning I rode my Arab friend, Bob, around a ring while Beanie yelled at me: "SHOULDERS BACK! HANDS FORWARD! LOOK UP! INNER LEG BACK! ELBOWS BENT - LIKE YOU ARE CARRYING A TRAY OF DRINKS! THERE! THAT'S IT!" (The next day, my lesson involved riding alone in the ring - not as loud, or as fun.)

Unfortunately, once I got home and showered, I got online and came across this story in the Denver Post: "Anti-Obama Threats Rise" which listed out just a few of the "hundreds" of horrific incidences of racism since Obama was elected President. I found these two particularly horrifying:

"At Standish, Maine, a sign inside the Oak Hill General Store read: 'Osama Obama Shotgun Pool.' Customers could sign up to bet $1 on a date when Obama would be killed. 'Stabbing, shooting, roadside bombs, they all count,' the sign said. At the bottom of the marker board was written 'Let's hope someone wins.'"

"Second- and third-grade students on a school bus in Rexburg, Idaho, chanted 'assassinate Obama,' a district official said."

The article made me sick. At first, I thought that most of the incidents would be in the South (and many were) but they were mostly on the East Coast and very few in the West, with the exception of Idaho, long a favorite of the skinhead community. I liked to think that we, as a country, had evolved from this type of blind hatred but as the school bus incident attests, the hate is merely being passed down from generation to generation.

I was so saddened and distracted that when I drove to meet my friends, John and Camille, for dinner, I parked my car several blocks away by mistake. Then, I looked up and found myself pondering at a street sign far too long. Without realizing it, I was parked on 'Race' street. Sadly, there was so Harmony Street to intersect it.

The next morning, I checked out the Mile High Church with a new gentleman friend. The place is massive and kinda fancy - with a full professional level band and jumbotrons for those sitting in the outer edges, in the non-fanatical sections.

After the service, everyone was encouraged to meet with 'practitioners' standing by to lead you in a short, personal prayer. Since my church date was participating, I figured I might as well. (Praying is not my thing so I can use all the help I can get.)

I asked the woman, named Lisa, to please help me pray for this country and the people who carry hate in their heart. "I am very, very worried about it," I told her, "and don't know what else to do."

So, we closed our eyes and she said a bunch of pretty words, calling out my concerns to the heavens. I just kept picturing that school bus full of children, chanting for the death of their new president and tears just flowed down my cheeks. Finally, she finished and I opened my eyes and saw that her eyes were full of tears too.

Honestly, I just don't know if mankind will ever fully resolve this issue until we are, at last, all one color.


Renewed said...

Having just moved from Virginia I think I feel okay with saying that race is still an issue there. Of course, there are always people who "get it" and know that it is just pigment. But then there are others who want to re-fight the Civil War.

And that makes me sad. Yet another reason I am glad to live in a more liberal place.

ClizBiz said...

Renewed: Well, you could not have picked a more fitting online moniker to fit your perspective.

I'm glad you have moved away from that world. I'm spending 2 weeks in the Deep South - for Xmas and New Year's - and am bracing myself for what ugly post-Obama utterances I may hear. Thank god for alcohol.

Anonymous said...

Race isn't just pigment. It's a social construction that's had a deep impact on millions of Americans over hundreds of years. It needn't be disregarded.

ClizBiz said...

I see your point and race is more than pigment. Clearly, it cannot be disregarded by anyone. But this is America we're talking about - the great social experiment where everyone comes to make something of themselves, regardless of where they came from.

The social structures have been built around reaction to pigment - created by man. Ponder the thought: If we suddenly went blind, do you think there would be racism? Would it then be an audio reaction, instead of a visual one?

Anyway, humans are humans. If you travel the world, you'll quickly find that people are the same no matter where you go - no matter what color their skin. As they say in porn and rock-n-roll, "We're all pink on the inside."

Anonymous said...

If we went blind, we'd still be living with racial issues. I agree with your sentiments, but feel that it's more complicated than that, and it's often white people who don't see the depth and the intricacies of those complications. Not that any harm is meant, it's just hard to hear y'all talk about all-living-in-peace and melting pots and pigments when there's a lot more to it.

You should read this book by Charles Schulyer from the Harlem Renaissance --- I can't recall the title of it, but it's sort of a science fiction book where the black people of Harlem can undergo a medical experiment which can turn them white, and they eventually all do it, and the book explores the impact and repurcussions of such a thing.

Also, if you don't know alreayd, Zora Neale Hurston was an advocate of separate but equal as well. Think of all the "houses" on college campuses that are separated by race? Why do you think those people are doing that? If you read the discourse, or listen a little deeper, to people like Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock... Cornel West is kind of iffy but even Spike Lee has a "magical negro theory" ---

I think I've mentioned enough for a big discussion but it may help to think about what you think and what other types of people might define as the word "racism" and more importantly, its impact. A lot of us, of all colors, do not want to become ONE COLOR, as your link suggested.... diversity can be cool. Being who you are can be cool. There's a difference between the word "racialist" and "racist" as well.....

I agree with your opinions and sentiments but just wanted to mention a bit of the intellectual discourse and realities of what these issues really entail. Until you've really thought about things from another perspective, you can't assume that your idealistic view of the future, however well-intended, really reflects the good meaning behind those intentions. Peace!

ClizBiz said...

Begrudgingly, I agree with you - that my 'white perspective' can be idealistic and that there are so many parts to this issue that I cannot possibly understand.

I looked online for that Charles Schuyler book you recommended but I get zip - lots on George Schuyler though. I'll take on all forms of enlightenment so thanks for the suggestions.

Have you, by any chance, seen the movie 'White Man's Burden?' The film, which reverses racial stereotypes, blew my mind. It gave me one of my most memorable nightmares - I can still recall every detail of it. Just curious if you did and what you thought of it.

Also, just to clarify, it's not so much that I want us to become one color, it's just that we are clearly heading in that direction. Fact is - white people just don't have that many babies and population wise, it's inevitable. It's simply a number thing, though you and I will be long gone by then.

Thanks for the clarification on the 'racialist' term. I had heard it only in passing and had to go look it up to clarify. Interesting.

Finally, THANK YOU for engaging me on this subject. It's this type of discourse - well, it's really the most effective way to learn.

Peace to you!

Anonymous said...

Peace to you, too! I'll check out White Man's Burden, and yes, my bad, it is George, not Charles:

Thanks for all the kind words and not getting defensive or on a soapbox, cuz I didn't mean any offense. Good for you for encouraging discourse --- and I encourage the spread of the word "racialist" --- it's a term to speak about and regard race without (allegedly) pejorative connotations, and the more we can get people talk about this stuff without the emotional heat-slash-awkwardness-slash-unease, the better.

This used to be my field, I can go on and on. ;) bell hooks, anyone? I think women need to talk a lot more about margin-to-center -- and not leave race as a largely male topic. Especially now with Obama, the dynamic between white women and black men is more on the forefront.

ClizBiz said...

Thanks for the clarification on the book. As always, I spend my Xmas and New Year's holiday in Mississippi and this book would be ideal to read in that environment.

I've also got a book recommendation for you: "White Trash: Race and Class in America" which which touches on a lot of issues referenced here:

I'm pretty lucky that you have already researched this field and that you are sharing your insights here. Agree that the conversation needs to continue. With this new administration, I'm making an effort to have more of these conversations. Healing begins at home, as they say.

Let me know if you have ideas about places (maybe your blog?) where I can take part in this.

Your racialist friend,