Thursday, November 13, 2008

Useless Heroes

I opened the new post election issue of "US News & World Report" this morning. For some reason I always read letters to the editor first in a magazine and then I read the rest by jumping here and there. A feature series entitled "The 44th President Commentary" right after letters caught my eye. Short and sweet comments by I guess people I should know. Of the four commentaries listed, I found comments by Terry Edmonds to be interesting.

Former director of speech writing for Bill Clinton, Mr Edmonds is also a black who managed a "first" for his race. He was the first Black director of presidential speech writing ever. An older black who dealt with, witnessed and I am sure felt the racial hatred from years ago admitted he was wrong. Wrong because he never thought America could rise above it's petty prejudices and step outside of their box. Apparently he was stepping outside of his box also when he wrote this. Good for him.

But what I focused on was his insinuation that the blame these last 40 plus years was an all white cross to bear.

"And if we really wanted to know what the majority of Americans thought about us, we only had to look at the bulging black prison population, the double rate of black unemployment, and the portrayal of African-Americans on TV shows like Flavor Flav's Flavor of Love ."

I hold to the idea that no matter what cards we are dealt, how we turn out is mostly up to us. And rhetoric like this only feeds the idea that everything is someone else's fault. I have always considered this racial crap as a two way problem and not so one sided as many on both sides would have us believe. If the majority of Americans think that all blacks are rapping wannabes, gangstas, and jocks, it is only because up until now, that is the image they have chosen to push to the front. Anybody of any worth, white or black, knows that a culture is not defined by it's stars unless that culture decides to embrace the image.

A majority of Americans following the lives and habits of a Flavor Flav is not a white thing or a black thing. It is an American thing. We have become enamored by the lifestyles and habits of people who live lives outside of the norm of our culture. Our culture has become saturated with meaningless heroes who do nothing to better our self image or the image we project abroad. The useless hero list is endless and I am sure if we broke it down, the majority of them would not be Black, Latino, or Asian. The majority would be White folks who have no business being held in such high regard.

On the fourth of November, something happened. Yeah we elected a black president for the first time. That unique and historical moment cannot be understated. But something else happened. For the first time in my life I witnessed our country stepping up and deciding at least for a moment that it was time to look for a hero of worth. Barack may or may not be that hero. But he certainly represents our faith that one does exist. And because of that I think maybe we are a country that can still be great even though for most of my lifetime we have been trying hard not to be.

6 comments:

Randal Graves said...

Shallowness and stupidity, especially in America, is about the most egalitarian thing we've got going. Male, female, black, white, green, Christian, Jew, Muslim, you'll find jokers everywhere.

I always laugh when people complain about the black rappers promoting the gangsta lifestyle. They never seem to complain about the white record company owner or the white kids who, I'd imagine, buy the bulk of rap records. CDs, downloads, whatever.

A Midnight Rider said...

Obama was preaching to the chior so to speak, when people like me heard him. The changing demographics of some the usual repulican strongholds had a lot to do with his election. The war, Bush, the economy, the conservative adjenda of exclusion all played a part. Palin put an exclamation point on the exclusion part, with comments like "the real America, Bill Ayers, socialism and his Middle Eastern based name. We should thank her I suppose.

I still think Obama took race out of the equation for most people buy running as a man who is black as opposed to a black man running for office.

With the exception of the evangelical South that is. They still seemed to vote strictly on race and abortion.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

Criminals as a group are not very intelligent as a rule. Also, most criminals come from a class of people that have nothing to lose, and everthing to gain by committing crimes, without education, they are never gonna make it----is it any surprise then that the vast majority of our prison population is made up of uneducated, poor people?? who happen to be black-----its not a race thing at all---Blacks who are educated, and work hard and are successful in their chosen fields, frequently move away from the black centers, not wanting to be affiliated with the uneducated---and gosh, don't us whites do the same thing?

Demeur said...

You don't have to be uneducated to be a criminal. Look at wall street and several republican reps.
I think America looked past race or gender and picked intelligence over stupid. The only problem is that stupid has screwed things so badly it may not be fixable.

Utah Savage said...

This is wildly off topic, but I want to thank you for the comment on my novel. I hope you read on. And I'm so happy you can relate to the way a grown up really feels about their outrageous aged parent. I hope you like it enough to keep reading. I'm working on a final copy edit and could use all the help I can get.

I tried to entice Randal into being my copy editor, but he's too busy writing his masterpiece to waste time on me.

I'll be back to read for real and comment for real. I promise. I just got home from the movie and HardBall is on and I need my "news" fix and a smoke and a cup a tea. Later

1138 said...

hero... that's a word we've pretty much debased into worthlessness in this society.

Personally, I only apply it to people I have known.