Monday, July 15, 2013

Onwards and upwards



My parents worked vigorously, and may I say courageously, for Civil Rights during the 1960s. People knew where they stood; it's not like my parents were secretive about their political views.

Our house was egged, we received threatening anonymous phone calls and horrible anonymous letters containing the most racist crap you can imagine. It was foul. I was disinvited to a friend's slumber party because my parents were "nigger lovers." The friend's mother explained the disinvite to her fourth grade daughter using those words. Can you imagine? Seriously. Kansas City was hardly an enlightened city at that time.

It was uncomfortable for me. I tried to understand. I read about slavery, the Civil War and such. But growing up in a 100% white suburb of Kansas City in the late fifties and early sixties, I had hardly ever even seen a black person. I could not take in the importance of my parents' commitment.

I remember the first black students at my high school. They seemed exotic, like foreign exchange students. I thought it was cool when my sister dated one of the black kids. It was so daring of her. I think his name was Charlie.

That was a long time ago now. And though things have definitely taken a turn for the better - I mean, we have a second term black president - we still have far to go.

Of course I'm writing this because of the decision in the Trayvon Martin case. Friends who know more about these things than I do say the case was hardly air-tight, and that the bigger problem is Florida's crappy laws. I feel so sad for the Martins. I have no idea what instructions the jurors were given or how the evidence was presented. I don't know how I would have voted, if I'd been on that jury - which would never have happened, btw.

I feel sad and yet curious, too. I think this is another one in the series of current events that makes me say, over and over, that this time feels just like the 60s. This is a big wake up call. I think the verdict has cranked up the Civil Rights movement again. It's time to evolve. We can do it.

The video below is from South Pacific. The film was released in 1949. They are singing about prejudice. The problem in the movie is that the young man has fallen in love with a Balinese woman. Everyone knows it will never work out for the two of them to be together. The French guy has kids by a Balinese woman, a situation so abhorrent that Nellie Forbush tries to wash him out of her hair. I mean, a blond woman marrying a French man with Indonesian children? Unthinkable at that time.

Can you imagine that kind of thinking today? Neither can I.

We open to the better way, we humans - we surely do. Not as quickly as some would like, of course. We are impatient. But it is happening. I'm old enough to remember how it was in the American midwest during the 1960s. I remember this energy of upheaval, awakening and subsequent change.

Time for the next turn of the spiral of evolution. May it be so. Let's go!



14 comments:

tut-tut said...

I hope you're right about a reawakening, but I feel like the lid is being clamped down and there are forces (Big Money, Big Pharma, Big Lobbies) that weren't there in the 1960s that are frighteningly, fiercely moving over the will of the many in perpetuation of the greed of the few.

Reya Mellicker said...

I'm more optimistic, but who knows? We shall see.

Carolina Linthead said...

I remain optimistic, too. I did my thing the day the verdict was announced, delved into Pink Floyd, soul-searched, drank, questioned. My conclusion remains that we can and will evolve. Thanks for this post, dear friend.

Reya Mellicker said...

Pink Floyd? That is perfect!!

Alfred Imhoff said...

Absolutely on the mark--thank you, Reya!

Reya Mellicker said...

Xx Alfred.

Kerry said...

Wow I didn't know that song was from 1949. It certainly holds true now.

I was incredulous when I heard that Zimmerman got off, but then I remembered what it's like serving on a jury, which I've done several times. It can be very complicated and not at all as easy as one might think. Justice and the law are two different things. I'm sure that most of the jurors are not feeling great about the decision.

Reya Mellicker said...

Who knows how they feel? I surely don't envy them.

Reya Mellicker said...

I just heard on NPR that one of the jurists has already signed a book deal.

Wow. That was fast.

Reya Mellicker said...

Jurors

Kerry said...

Looks like the book deal is off:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/15/anderson-cooper-zimmerman-juror/2519569/

Reya Mellicker said...

Should be!

Kerry said...

Forgot to say: your parents were heroes. Without people like them we'd still be in the 50's

Steve Reed said...

Although the Trayvon Martin decision was tragic and frustrating -- at least to me -- you're correct that we're moving forward a little every day. When we look back just a few decades, it's amazing how different things are now.