Those Awful, Horrible Rutgers Basketball Players

Yesterday, during my workout, the press conference of the Rutgers basketball team was on the TV in the treadmill room.  It was quite intriguing and gave lie to the implication of Imus’ comments.  I thought it was appropriate, and even great theater.

But, it occurred to me: here, we have a group of young women, each of them a subset of a larger “group” (the team).  Nasty, horrible, racially-charged comments were made about the group.  And yesterday, each of these fine women stood up before the press, and told what the “incident” meant to them personally.  They not only declared their personal hurt (which is quite an effective argument), but each woman, as she spoke, killed the stereotype inherent in Imus’ silliness.

I’ve been told time and again that this form of argumentation is wrong, and hurtful, and out of bounds.

I’ve been stuck here in my cocoon, but I assume the Rutgers players have been widely criticised for personalizing the argument.


FYI – in my exile, I am being reshaped by God’s hand.  I’m used to feeling sadness, and betrayal, and depression.  But slowly, I’m getting a new emotion, one I haven’t felt in a long time: righteous anger.  When I return to the fray, you may not recognise me.  I can tell you one thing: nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to dictate my form of argumentation to me.

I intend to follow the lead of the Rutgers basketball team.  And I’ll call any double standard BS I see, as well.

It would be best if you prepared yourselves.  I was entertaining as an eloquent doormat.  I will try to keep what eloquence I have, but I will be a doormat no more. 

The time is not yet here, but it is near.

Broken Up Day

The kids get out of school early today.  They’re off tomorrow, and then again on Monday.  No, it’s not spring break, they’ve already had that.  There’s one thing about sending your kids to a Catholic school:

They sure take this Easter thing quite seriously.

I wonder why? 😉

Otis and Missy (boy, does that sound like a sitcom?) will be happy to see us.  Especially Missy, I think.  She’s a crotchety old Cocker spaniel, and you can tell by the looks she gives that she doesn’t appreciate playing nursemaid to a rugrat all day. 

Otis just wants to nibble on something.

I think you’ll find my disposition improving greatly over the next several days.  I’m getting plenty of good, restful sleep, Easter is the time that reminds Christians of our greatest joy, and I’m going to cut myself off from political blogs for a while – especially “level 1” discussions.

You might remember, there are three forms of philosophical discourse: Level one is high-theoretical, egghead discussion.  Aristotle, Plato, and all that,  Level two is the arts, which in the US usually means film, television and music.  Level three is person-to-person, “kitchen table” discourse.

One of the big rules I learned studying the writings of Ravi Zacharias was this: to be effective, argue at level 1, illustrate at level 2, and apply at level 3.

Many blogs, both philosophical and political, have a ground rule that the discourse must remain at level 1.  You might as well ask me not to breathe.  Maybe it’s because I’m older.  Maybe it’s because I’m a parent.  But, with every issue that comes before me, my mind quickly turns to, “How does this issue affect my life and those that I love?”. 

I have no time for (and pardon the phrase – I can’t think of a better one) mental masturbation: bouncing ideas back and forth simply as a mental exercise with no thought to how they apply to daily life.  If that’s your thing, fine – I’ve outgrown it.  If discussions cannot travel to levels 2 and 3, I cannot waste my time with them.

I have practical reasons for discussion of race issues.  I do not know what it’s like to raise children of color.  There are issues I face as a parent of Asian children, that I am “winging”.  It’s kind of scary.  Most of what I learned about parenting came from watching my own parents raise my brothers and me.  Well, there are issues that have and will come up with my children that my parents have no clue how to deal with.

So, I spend a lot of quiet time racked with doubt.  Am I doing it right?  There’s no one to tell me.  That’s why I need my “web family” to help, to guide me in parental matters of race, especially non-white bloggers.  Unfortunately, because of the way people are conditioned, my status as “white man” causes a many to have their claws out before we can even strike up a friendship.  (Update: I am not guiltless in this regard – many times an offhand comment brings my white man claws out, as well) .  We argue, and I’m left hurt and just as confused as I was before the conversation.

I’ve gone far afield, as I’m wont to do.  My wife last night, asked me what was wrong with me.  Why was I so despondent, not eating, not talking?  What was I going to do, tell her that some person whom I had never met managed to get under my skin and hurt me to the core?  Sounds silly – so I just said “nothing, I’m fine”.

You know what?  It’s just not worth it.

So, it’s back to DaddyBlogging, recipes, blogging about my own weirdness.  I will remain clueless when it comes to raising children of color; no one wants to take discussions of race to that level.  God will show me the way (nobody else will).

I cannot languish in bitterness for long.  So, I will take myself out of those situations that cause bitterness.

So, I’m better now.

There Is Only Justice

I believe that God gave mankind several gifts that, once we fell, we were completely unable to handle; with these gifts, we are like a toddler with a loaded gun.  An obvious example is sex.  We’ve been messed up on that one from the beginning, with no cure in sight.  Another obvious one, one that has been coming up over and over lately, is race.

I should have known better.  I’ve watched every Super Bowl since 1971; I should have known that every little thing gets amplified by a power of 100 during the hyped-up week of the Big Game.  In the back of my mind, I had to have known that having two African American coaches would be hyped and examined to the nth degree.  I DID know, and I expected what happened.  Those of us who advocate societal color-blindedness should have seen it for what it was (just typical SB hype), and kept our mouths shut.

But, they sucked me in anyway.  It’s near impossible for me to avoid these discussions at TCP, mainly because Aunt B’s over-the-top sledgehammer approach is fascinating to a subtle, scapel guy like me.  Regardless, the damage is done, and now I feel a need to explain where I come from.

I realised when thinking about my readership, that I don’t know any of you who are both my age and from Nashville.  The closest, I think, is Hutchmo, but he’s a little older than me, so his experience would have been different.  But if any of you are 38-43, and were born and raised in Nashville, I’d love to hear about your experiences to compare them to mine.

I started first grade at Charlotte Park Elementary in the fall of 1970.  Later in the school year, the US Supreme Court approved bussing as a means to achieve immediate desegregation.  Apparently there was quite a fuss over this in Nashville, but little 6 year old Slarti knew nothing of such things.  By 2nd grade, my family had moved and I now attended Martha Vaught; my beloved teacher (Mrs Prince) and best friend Moses were both what we called at the time “black”.  I didn’t think anything about it.

We moved several more times, mostly because my parents always seemed to be in money trouble, but I’m sure we were also caught up in the white flight of the time.  Once again, I didn’t know about or understand “white flight”, I was a grade schooler concerned with collecting Wacky Packages stickers and getting my Evil Knevil motorcycle to jump over my brother. 

My Dad never really gave an opinion on Martin Luther King, Jr, but my Mom sure looked up to him.  I remember her beaming when the news would show footage of his “I Have A Dream” speech.  I was a little too young to understand what Dr King was talking about, so Mom explained that we should always ignore the “color” of other people and just treat people like people.  She explained that some people didn’t do this, and that’s why Dr King made the speech.  I was a mama’s boy; I got my love of flowery prose from her. I can tell you, if Mom looked up to Dr King, so would I.

As a boy growing up in the 70’s, it seemed almost every adult of influence that I encountered was trying to teach me color-blindedness.  It was in the curriculum, it was taught at church, they had Norman Lear shows on TV that preached it.  It seemed like a natural point of view for a pre-teen like me, so I was a good boy and adopted the mindset as my own.

In the late 70’s, I went to Bellevue Junior and Senior high.  At Bellevue, I was known as the slightly strange little brother of a highly-popular basketball star.  I wasn’t popular myself, but I was tolerated.  I liked my life (which, during puberty is about all you can ask for).  I was too busy daydreaming about Tracy Whatshername to think about the fact that there were only four or five African Americans in our entire school.  That was about to change.

In 1979, Judge Thomas Wiseman (funny how I can still remember his name) ordered several Nashville schools closed, and one of them was Bellevue HS.  You must understand, the high schoool was the absolute center of the community back then.  Bellevue had a McDonald’s, a Kroger, and the high school.  All of community life revolved around the school.  The residents fought the closing for a year, but 1980 was the last graduating class of Bellevue High School.

Starting in 1981, I had to get up before 5 in the morning to get ready for my over an hour bus ride.  I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong; all I knew is that because adults couldn’t get their act together about race, my life sucked.  I was forced to go to a new school where I didn’t even have the “little brother of a basketball star” reputation; now I was just a weird kid.  I was bullied and treated horribly, especially on that long bus ride.

Here’s the funny thing: the kids from Cohn and Pearl, who were also being bussed into Hillwood from the city, also resented the lives they had known being ripped apart.  They also had hour long bus rides.  And, the local Hillwood kids resented all of us, city and country “bussers”.  The city had closed and consolidated three schools, so we were incredibly overcrowded.  The teachers did the best they could, but it was a very hard environment in which to learn.  Whatever lesson the adults were trying to teach us by throwing all of us together, we were learning an entirely different one.

I spent two tumultous years at Hillwood.

Through it all, I retained the color blindedness that Mom, the school system, and Norman Lear had taught me.  It served me well and allowed me to have a wide, racially diverse circle of friends.  To me (and I keep this viewpoint to this day), skin color is just another physical characteristic, like eye color and shoe size.  Then, in the early 90’s, I remember watching the news and learning that my outlook was considered passe. 

There was some kind of race conference at Fisk, and I remember like it was yesterday, some panelist said that the goal should no longer be color blindedness.  Son of a gun.  They had moved the goalposts on me while I wasn’t looking.  My reaction was anger.  When I calmed down, I decided I wasn’t going to play the game anymore.

By that time, I was a Christian, and I had adjusted my outlook to just living the Golden Rule.  Like Jesus, I would treat all human beings as children of God – everything else was just a distraction.  This is my attitude to this day.  If anybody else gets hung up on anything else, that’s between them and God.  I’m getting off the race merry-go-round.

I am now on a lifelong experiment to see just what a colorblind life looks like.  It’s been interesting, and I’ve gotten criticism from some very unexpected quarters.  But I don’t really care what anybody else thinks.  This is between me and my Lord.  He will judge my life by its fruits.  

I will fight injustice no matter what the reasons for the injustice.  In my mind, phrases such as “racial justice” mean nothing to me; there is only justice.  I realise this is a radical approach, but I’m trying to follow the example of Jesus. 

Anyway, there’s the context of my attitude about race.

Posted in Race. 8 Comments »