There was an interesting article in last Sunday’s Dallas Morning News written originally in the Princeton Alumni magazine by Lawrence Otis Graham, an attorney and author. His article, Wealth can’t protect your kids from racism, had some interesting things to say about the problem. What prompted the article was in incident involving his 15-year-old son and a bigoted white guy at a New England boarding school.
Apparently, as the young man was walking across campus, a guy in a car pulled up beside him and called out, “Are you the only nigger at Mellon Academy?” (Graham changed the name of the school.)
Graham was most upset about the incident because he said he and his wife had worked hard to teach their children how to act and talk so they would fit in smoothly with the white community. No slouchy pants, no sunglasses, no hoodies, and no ebonics. Yet this young man obviously did not fit in smoothly to the entire white community.
I found this article most distressing. First, just the blatant bigotry that young man in the car displayed. I thought we were past that kind of thing. But therein lies the problem. We are not past it. Not one bit.
Racism and bigotry are two themes I explore in the Seasons Mystery Series that debuted with Open Season, and I have done a lot of research about racial profiling, the use of deadly force, as well as interviews with police officers both black and white about the difficulties they face. That initial research was done almost 30 years ago, and sadly not a lot has changed. You just have to consider what happened to Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012 and the tragedy this year in Ferguson, Missouri.
I think part of the problem is that different bothers us. Sometimes it even scares us. We like to stay in our own area of comfort where we know the people and we know what to expect from them. We are hard-wired to be alert for stranger-danger.
So maybe we should stop thinking of others as strangers and more like friends we just haven’t met.
Something else of interest in the Dallas Morning News was a story about a new program in West Dallas. Two graffiti artists, Eder Martinez and Kirk Garnett went to a city hall meeting and asked if the city would consider a santioned graffiti wall where artists could express themselves creatively and not worry about being arrested. Other cities have freewall public art projects, and Garnett thought that should work in Dallas.
|Image courtesy of MarcoFolio.net
Apparently it has. There are plans to add more sites for artists, and it is a win-win on both sides. Kudos to the city leaders for their willingness to listen.
Now here’s some advice from Will Rogers to kick off your weekend on a light note:
* There are two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither works.
* Never miss a good chance to shut up.
* If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
* The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back into your pocket.
* There are three kinds of men:
The ones that learn by reading.
The few who learn by observation.
The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.
* Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
* Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier’n puttin’ it back.
* After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
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