Wednesday, February 29, 2012

injaynesworld "It Bears Repeating: Race and Politics...""

This post was first written and published on this blog in March of 2010. Today, over two years later, not much has changed.  As we head into what may be the most defining presidential election of our time the subject of race is more prominent than ever.  On Tuesday, October 16th, PBS will air "Race 2012:  A Conversation about Race and Politics in America," a one-hour documentary that looks at race in the 2012 election and beyond.  This post joins the Race 2012 Blogging Project as part of that important discussion. 

This is what America looks like.  Notice the diversity of tush tones.

In contrast, this is what a large swath of Congress looks like.

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s in a suburb of San Francisco that was as white bread as you could get.  Black people lived in the next town over.  There were a few Hispanics in my school, a Jew here and there, and the oddball Asian kid.  If there were any “queers” we didn’t know about them. 

Back then few ever questioned the notion of a male-dominated white majority rule or what that meant for others.   What we saw in our lives and on TV pretty much represented the world as we knew it and everything seemed to be going along well enough.  

Then came the civil rights era and, much to my surprise, I learned that blacks were pretty pissed off and had been for some time.   I think I knew that the reason no black people lived in our town was because had they wanted to buy a house there, no one would have sold them one, and I’m pretty sure that deep inside I also knew there was something fundamentally wrong with that, but I was a child and bought the grown-up reasoning that “People are really happier living with their own kind.”

Now, of course, I realize that was just code for “People fear those who are different from themselves.”  

It’s no coincidence that the current explosion of hate-speech and fear, fueled by the likes Limbaugh and those fine folks at Fox, comes at a time when we have our first black president, our first female Speaker of the House, our first openly-gay Congressman, Barney Frank, and oh-my-God there’s an Hispanic woman at the Supreme Court and she’s not the cleaning lady. 

When the right wing shouts about “taking back America” this is who they want to take it back from.  But that ship has sailed.  Within three decades whites will no longer be a majority in this country and that will make for some pretty interesting times.   

I’m not a hypocrite.  Growing up in the era that I did I’m happy to have had the privileges that my lily white ass afforded me, but I’m not so happy with the way my white brethren have handled a lot of things over the years.   With corporate greed, questionable wars, oppression of women and minorities, climate change, not to mention Faux News, it doesn’t seem like we of the pale skin persuasion have done the rest of the population, not to mention future generations, many favors. 

It’s likely that I won’t be around in three decades to see how this whole cultural shift plays out, but I do believe that as the face of Congress changes to more accurately reflect the face of America, the moneyed and powerful will no longer be able to rule by manipulating and exploiting our fears of perceived “differences.”   Then maybe we will finally see the reemergence of a strong middle class to challenge the destructive Reagan legacy of corporatism, and the creation of a more equal, just and compassionate society for all.  I hope so.

Be sure and "like" Race 2012 on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

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