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Posts Tagged ‘current-events’

In the following 1965 debate that took place between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, Baldwin refers to “forty years ago when I was born …” Perhaps, because of my age, the phrase struck a chord.  The debate takes place at Cambridge University, and its focus is that ever-evolving, often elusive concept of the american dream, and at whose expense that dream is realized.   The whole debate is 58 minutes long.  With all due respect to Mr. Buckley and his rebuttal, I am encouraging/challenging people to listen to at least the first part of the debate, the remarks of Baldwin.  Whatever one’s political or social leanings, his command of language is a marvel to watch and listen to.

As I listened to Baldwin I was saddened at the timelessness of his words.  Why are his words, spoken nearly fifty years ago, as relevant today?  In a related side note, this morning I had the opportunity, by phone, to singalong with my four-year old nephew, Jordan.  Apparently we both like to whistle.  As I listened to Baldwin, I thought of Jordan and other little family members new to the world.  I hope that they learn about Baldwin as a writer and an activist in his own unique way, and that they also learn about the power of words.

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It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who wrote, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”  His words have been in my head a lot this election year as has his following statement:  “Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up … injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”

leaves blowing in the wind

I did not begin the morning thinking of Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.  I began the day thankful after learning, via phone calls and emails, that friends and family across the storm zone were all safe and with power.  But then I accidentally read a blog post.  Actually I skimmed it.  I had almost pressed the like button but there was some phrasing that made me pause.  I slowed down and really read the words before me on the screen.  That’s when the beautifully subtle racism and misogyny of the text became clear.  And I became so sad and so angry.

It was like the post became a flaming match that fell upon the kindling of recent stories about the subtleties of race and voter manipulation (let alone outright voting machine tinkering) in this 2012 election, and of my own experiences with the subtle undercurrent of rising racism and class discrimination and watching  good-hearted people not wanting to talk about it.

I thought of the people I’ve sat quietly beside on recent commutes home, as they’ve talked about how they like the look of Romney and Ryan and don’t like Obama’s look, and then they see me and my brown skin and look away quickly.  I was not angry at them or even necessarily offended.  I simply wanted to ask them, what does a “look” have to do with running a country in a chaotic world?

rain upon the window

I will never tell anyone how to vote.  I will simply say to those in this country who are able to vote, please do and do so with an understanding of who and what you are voting for.  Do more than a skim of the text or a superficial look.  That is what I will try to remind myself anyway.  Okay … tomorrow back to calming words and images.  Be well.

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