1/24/2009

Getting it Right?

Sorry - I have to hop on my soapbox for a moment regarding Reverend Lowry's invocation at the Inauguration of President Obama on Tuesday. Of course, I speak from the perspective of being a Generation X'er, the first of (now) three generations who did not have to grow up under segregation and intense racial divisiness, but who recognize that discrimination still occurs today and are challenging it at every turn -yet gol-durnit - he offended me to no end.

"When White's Get it Right" (and yellow getting mellow, and red getting ahead and brown sticking around...) had no place in the Pomp and Circumstance of a National Ceremony such as Inauguration. It plays into negative stereotypes that all races have against each other in this country. (Indians=lazy, Hispanics only being illegal here, caucasians putting everyone down, and blacks thinking "I gots to get me mine".) More specifically, it plays into the stereotype that groups of Caucasians believe that americans of african descent think they are owed the American dream and want a free handout, and groups of americans of african descent believe that caucasians only want to hold their race down and put them back in "their place". Not cool Reverend Lowry - totally not cool - especially when the man sitting behind you, the one that is charged with leading our nation for the next four years, shares a heritage with both Africa and Caucasian European American, and has based his platform and agenda on attempting to remove the divisivess that has drawn and quartered our country for the past 16 years in politics, as well as the last 200 years of history.

Of course, it didn't help that the mass media kept asking the question to Americans of African descent "how do you feel about this historic occasion" - to wit the response was (over and over) "I finally feel like an American, not just an African-American". A question for the media - Why wasn't that question asked of Hawaiians in the crowd? Perhaps you were afraid that the answer would be "It took us 50+ years, but now we finally feel like Americans, not just "People Americans like to visit on vacation!" What about the question to the folks in the crowd raised by a single parent? "We finally feel like Americans rather than Americans whose parents divorced...of course we felt like Americans when President Clinton was in the office too because he was raised by a single mom and step father." What about asking the question to folks in the crowd who were of mixed origin? "We finally feel like Americans, instead of Americans who aren't accepted by any race because we are both". Nah. The media had to perpetuate the caucasian vs. american of african descent argument. The very argument that Reverend Lowry chose to shout to the world from the dais of our Country's inauguration.

I recognize that Reverend Lowry grew up in the USA in a different time. I recognize that, given he is in his 80's, he faced down Jim Crow Laws, segregation of the ugliest form, and heard stories from his Grandparents who were most likely slaves (or direct decendants of slaves). But you know what? My father grew up in the same generation that Reverend Lowry did - and saw the same ugliness being perpetrated on other Americans, and heard stories from his grandparents of slavery and the like as well. Yet my father would have been VILIFIED had he stood on the dais and made a comment that was as offensive to other races. Of course, my father is of the Caucasian persuasion. Yet, my father (much like Dr. Martin Luther King, except not on the steps of a monument) preached to us that we are all Americans, and that people should be treated on the basis of their actions and deeds, and not their background and country of origin. (Or gender, but that is another story).

So tell me Reverend Lowry, what is "right". Folks of all races (including millions of purely caucasians), across the Country supported President Obama in his bid for election. And lest you forget, President Obama was abandoned by his African father, and raised by his Mom and Grandparents - wouldn't that be "right"? (okay, that was snarky). How about - "There are many struggles, but it finally looks - from here on the dais - that you, the American people - have finally begun to put the struggles of race in their place - and I see a sea of humanity - black, red, yellow, brown and white - who finally "got it right"". That Reverend Lowry, would have been more reflective of the feelings of the majority of americans - and that, Reverend Lowry, would have been healing - in a Dr. King way.

And that is why I ask Reverent Lowry this simple question - How about - "when American's get it right", Reverend Lowry, how about when.Americans.Get.It.Right.?

Off my soapbox. Have a good day.

1 comment:

ConnectingTheDots said...

Well-written piece. Relevantly, as many nationally influential voices have repeatedly noted, Obama is part of Generation Jones, born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X. Google Generation Jones, and you'll see it’s gotten a lot of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (New York Times, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) are specifically referring to Obama, born in 1961, as part of Generation Jones.