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What can be done by us? The first is to admit the fear. Racism is a
strange mix of fears begot by ignorance. It has become an emotional
disease in our world. As educated people, our weapon against any disease
is our knowledge and compassion, two things that are being devalued in
American society on a daily basis. Sure, we teach our little ones all
the right words in our liberal preschools (liberals are the only ones who
would work for the crappy money paid to early education teachers), but
what about the discussion of race and gender in grades 6 through 12?
Almost non-existant. No one wants to touch the subject once it gets to
dating age. They don't even discuss Vietnam in most High Schools. So
the first part is to admit it all and let it all come out like the
puss-filled sore that it really is. Cop to it. Fuzzy Zoeller (the
Golfer) could have really done some good after the cruel remarks he made
about Tiger Woods after Tiger won the Master's. He could have said,"This
incident has made me aware that I am infected with racism and that the
country club system stands as one of the strongholds of racism in
America. Therefore, as an American and a man, it is incumbent on me to
seek professional help for this sickness. I will personally use my
influence and my pocketbook to unmask and cure this deadly illness and
work toward healing myself and my country of the misinformation and
bigotry that plagues my workplace.". Instead, he said it was just a joke
and he didn't mean anything by it, and if your offended by it, he's sorry
that you're offended.... implying that if your not offended by it,
neither is he. Weak, very weak. And sad.
Second is to take a stand. Not one of those Golf Pros would have walked
off the course in protest if Fuzzy had decided to play. They are
ingrained in the system and want every advantage to win, right up to and
including excluding players by race. They don't want to face black
atheletes... they've seen what happened when black players were included
in baseball, football, and basketball. Again, it's about money and
power. Plus they're frightened of what white women will think of them
when they lose to a black player.
Part of the Great Racist Myth is the Myth of the Great Black Penis.
Racism and misogyny are cousins. To paraphrase: "I, the great white man
control my woman with my great white penis. If she were exposed to the
great black penis it would diminish my power. Therefore, we keep our
women away from the big black penis because women are controled by the
penis and are to stupid to do anything but follow the biggest one."
Stated rather crudely, but simple is best in this case. I might add
that, my Masters degree notwithstanding, I spent thirty years of my life
in the working class, playing music in Honky Tonks, before returning to
academia and I guarantee that I'm not overstateing this. This is one of
the reasons I don't think America will survive as a Nation unless it
deals with our growing, armed, uneducated, disenfranchised population.
No justice, no peace is not just a slogan on a placard or a chant in the
street. It's a fact of life. Without justice, there will simply be no
peace. So take a stand. People need to be educated. One of our friends
just confided that his ex-wife spent nearly $20,000 in one year going to
self help groups and personal performance seminars. We wondered, if half
of that money and time had been spent on teaching a child to read,
wouldn't she have felt much better about herself, and at the same time,
have made a real difference. Somewhere within a ten mile radius of any
of us, there is a child or a family that needs help.... even someone in
our own family. Take a stand. Don't laugh at racist jokes. Or
handicapped jokes.... or Jew jokes or Gay jokes..... they're just not
funny. So you lose a few friends... someday they might thank you for
being real with them. You might just stop them from humiliating
themselves like Mr. Zoeller. Joy is different than jokes. Look for the
love ....go to the joy. Create the love and the joy.
Third, and this is connected to the second part, make the effort and do
As a Artist and a Parent and teacher, I try to create the world I want to
live in, the world of the 21st century. What can middle aged, white
people do to make create that world?
During the 60's and 70's, I knew many people of differnt races and
backgrounds and we held together as a makeshift family of sorts until we
couldn't stand the ravages of drugs, sex and greed that overtook us as a
nation in the mid 70's. As I've gotten older, it's been increasing
difficult to make and maintain personal relationships with people of
color in my age group. Their reasons for distrusting white folk have
increased since the mid seventies and as we all head into our peak
earning years, the exclusion of non-rich, non-white people gets stronger
and more obvious. So I make it my business to learn about other people,
especially other Americans who don't share the white bread version of
history we spoon feed our children. I talk openly and in a
straightforward manner with my children and their friends about the
history and activity of racism and gender bias. My sons and their
friends have created a non-racist, gender equal niche for themselves and
their part of their generation seems to have heard the message. They
show respect toward older people and are warm to immigrants and non
english speakers, especially the elderly. Are they rich? Are they
career oriented 20 year olds, bent on buying propety and setting up IRAs?
Not hardly. Am I a proud father? You bet I am. They've already made
the world a better place by being in it. They're values are REAL, not
overblown versions of the win at-all-costs, cheat-if=you-have-to
philosphy of Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Clinton. As a teacher, I am totally
intolerant of meanness of any kind and will stop the class in mid stream
to deal with any incident in class, in front of the class, not in some
shame area like the principles office. We solve those problems as a
class. It will be the most important lesson confused students will
learn..... the lesson of respect and of dignity, not because they are
forced or will be punished, but because it elevates them as people. A
whole and healthy person can not be a racist or a homophobe regardless of
what TV and Movies tell them.
I suggest Dee Clark's book "Bury my heart at Wounded Knee" This should
be a text book for American History classes. Other stuff I suggest to
students is "The Proximate Effects of Machinery on the Workman" from
"Capital Volume 1, by Karl Marx, Kawame Anthony Appiah's "The Invention
of Africa", and instead of stuffing Mark Twain down student's throats,
why not some Richard Wright or some Langston Hughes or even W.E.B.
DuBois? Henry Louis Gates Jr. has a book out called, "Thirteen Ways of
Looking at a Black Man". It will be the first book I buy when I rejoin
the ranks of the employed. One thing America saw during the broadcast of
the Anita Hill Trial was the plethora of Black intelligentsia America has
in her midst. I couldn't help but wonder,"why aren't these guys running
the country instead of old whorehousers like Kennedy and Helms. I gave a
student "Chesapeak" by James Michner and she told me she had no idea how
Africans became slaves or how they were brought to America or the role of
the Portugese or any of it. She was very moved...... another good book
that brings children into the questioning mode. Tell students the truth.
Children would much rather struggle with a complicated truth than to be
patronized by a simple lie. My opinion of course, but they must be
taught the principles of freedom if freedom is to continue and grow. On
the internet, find Dr. Hanuck McCarty and the Kindness Revolution or if
you want to help yourself unmask the oppressor, check out Dwayne O.
Andreas, head of ADM, supermarket to the world.
I hope this will answer some of the questions raised by yourself and
others to my rather innocent response to "deadlines and art". Again I
apologize for my poor spelling, not a reflection of my stay at the San
Francisco Art Institute, where I always corrected and edited my course
work diligently. Rather it's a reflection of my lack of attendance at a
high school that was only prepared for the non threatening student.