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.