Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rufus, Rufus, Rufus, is this a trap?

There is a young man that I know, who lives far beyond The Great Divide.

He was in town recently for the occasion of his uncle's funeral, so he threw a party, reuniting with a lot of his high school classmates, and my wife and I, who were simply parents of a significant number of his old classmates! One of the things he said at the reunion convinced me that black people are still very conscious of race, and I'm led to believe, justifiably so.

He's back out there between the wide Pacific and the San Andreas now, but we're still in fairly close communication through Facebook.

In response to a rather simple comment I'd made, Rufus decided he'd set me up to give my views on race relations. It's probably one of the toughest assignments I'll ever be given.

In a simple declaration, Rufus, I could pull a Hillel and paraphrase, "'Don't do to anyone what you wouldn't want them to do to you.' That's the Torah, learn it!" In fact, Rufus, I think that race relations can be summed up with a "basic" philosophy that I've recently adopted, "It's in the nature of all humans to think that everything would be darned near perfect (nothin's plumb perfect) if everybody could be just like me". You know I can't, and won't stop there. I really need to bore people to feel fulfilled.

People seem to have an inherent nature to be suspicious of anyone who's not "just like them". It is a nature that should be overcome, if one is to be a true believer in this country. Our founding fathers expressed it quite well within the basic beliefs of their day, and allowed for amendments as beliefs evolved, that "all men are created equal, and endowed.....etc, etc, etc".

That basic nature, which certainly predates our founding fathers, and probably predates civilization in general, still comes forth, even in the most disciplined.

A few years before the Bill Finley experience aboard ship on the way to Hawaii (where I've said that my views on race began to form), when I was nine or ten, my mother was driving us back home from a Brownie Scout function in the park. Our (rather my sister's), Brownie function had been rained out. The park was about a mile from town. When we reached the highway on the way toward town, Mom suddenly said, "Let's pick up that little boy". My sister and another Brownie, as well as myself said, "Whaaaat???" We kids were somewhat reluctant to stop for the little black hitchhiker, who was about eight or nine years old, but she stopped anyway, and we gave the kid a ride home. He'd been out at the the golf course adjacent to the park to caddy, and had decided that there wouldn't be much golf that day.

I met up with the kid a couple of years later, when I joined the caddy pool, and spent a lot of Saturdays, and a lot of weekdays during the summer, at the golf course.

The young fellow, I never knew by any name but "Bee". He had two older brothers, Alan, who was called "Dogie", and Hezekiah, who was sometimes called "Yopi", and sometimes in fun, "Hezzybull". There was a younger member of the Clay clan, but I can't remember his name, or what he even looked like. We played a lot of contact sports in our spare time at the golf course. It was common to spend the whole day in the caddy pool, and caddy for two or three rounds at the 9-hole course.

The whole point of the Clay story was simply to lead into telling you that, in her later years, as she became confined to her home, my mother, who had first introduced me to association with black people, gradually began to express a fear of black people, and often expressed her fear, with no basis I can possibly imagine.

My experiences in Hawaii, where for a little while, I was a "minority", perhaps gave me a small amount of insight into sympathy for the "concerns" of minorities. The people in Hawaii represent the "melting pot" that we used to consider the United States back when I was in school, but "white" people were definitely in the minority. For the most part, everyone gets along, although only this morning, one of my former Hawaiian classmates, in an email, mentioned "homeless" and "druggies" in a derogatory way.

I thought I was joking when I used to say that "When I ws growing up, the Hispanics didn't have their own race". I found out a year or so ago, when I decided to look it up, that, for purposes of the United States Census, they still don't. Their "race", for whatever reason, is of their own choosing.

Let's consider this massive, rambling dissertation as a "draft". I'm often coming back and adding or subtracting, trying to "get it right", which comes full circle to "nuthin's plumb perfect".

And it also comes full circle to "It's in the nature of all humans to think that everything would be darned near perfect (nothin's plumb perfect) if everybody could be just like me", which summarizes racial prejudice, homophobia, politics, and who knows what else?

I'm really afraid that minorities are destined to get the shaft simply by nature of their being "minority", because they are........(you know,,,"not just like me")

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