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!