Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Yep...I STILL Think about It

The recent George Zimmerman trial, along with a subsequent episode of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, got me to thinking about what I'd have to tell my biological children...that is, if I'd ever helped bring any biological children into this world. 

One of the reasons I've never been a biological father is this: I would've had to tell my sons and/or daughters that "Way too many of the people you meet just don't want to make you feel welcome here in this country you've been born in." 

In a way, those children would've been welcome here...but not REALLY welcome. 

I take a look at how so many Americans automatically assume that those of Trayvon Martin's color are the nation's archcriminals. Let's face it...let's not kid ourselves. If you're the color Trayvon was (my color), you're going to be more heavily scrutinized and held up to a harsher standard than if you're George Zimmerman's color.

You're going to be forced to constantly prove you're just as human as anybody else on the face of this planet called Earth. 

You learn that you're going to have to be twice as good at something as the average Caucasian person in your field...just to get half the acclaim.

It hurts. 

And you don't want to bring into the world in general, and right here in the world's most talked-about nation in particular, one more child who's going to end up on the wrong end of somebody else's racism...somebody else's sexism...somebody else's ageism...somebody else's homophobia/heterophobia...somebody else's paranoia about that child's religion...somebody else's axe to grind about that child not growing up wealthy.  

Some personal memories came welling up as a result of what happened in Sanford, FL.

One that came to mind happened on 9-1-2002, the day I went to Avoca, IA, to participate in that year's Old-Time Country and Bluegrass Festival and Contest. (That day- the seventh and final day of festivities at the Pottawattamie County Fairgrounds- they had the festival's ragtime piano competition. I didn't win...but I had a good, good time.)

That night, I went to the concession stand (underneath the grandstand) to buy something to eat...in this case, a hot dog and a can of pop (Mountain Dew).

The young woman running the concession stand looked at me as if I was one of the participants in the previous year's terrorist attacks.

She all but threw the hot dog (bun and all) and the pop can at me as I paid for the items. I felt so deflated that I had to tell her it was the fourth year I'd been to the festival...but all it got me was a snide version of "I hope you keep coming back."

I've NEVER set foot in Avoca since then.  

And I'm lucky the festival moved to Missouri Valley, IA the next year. (Now it's in another Iowa burg, LeMars.)  

I've also stopped shopping at the Hy-Vee food store at 51st and Center here in Omaha...because a late-night employee named Shirley spoiled it all for me. I'd been there many times before...but when Shirley asked me if she could help me (and she said this in a condescending way, as usual), that did it.  

Also on my mind was 11-1-2003...the day an Omaha Police officer named Richard Lucero (his first name does begin with "R;" I hope I've got his first name right) stopped me as I was on my way to my church's 5:00 PM service. 

While still in my car, I went to my wallet to pull out my driver's license...but he, assuming I had a gun (I've never owned a gun and don't own one now), told me to freeze or he'd shoot me. 

After he asked for my driver's license and received it to run a make on me, the officer told me my car (at the time, I owned a 1975 Lincoln Mark 4 that I bought at auction in 1999) had a broken taillight. 

He ordered me to fix the taillight (I did, with reflector tape)...and also wrote me a ticket (I paid it a week later). Then he snarled: "Have a nice day."

That day was totally ruined.  

From 1980 to 1987 (covering most of my first residency here in the Big O), I worked for Washington Inventory Service, the San Diego-based firm (since bought out by a rival company, RGIS) that had offices nationwide.

One of my fellow WIS employees was a man who liked to advertise his religion...heavily. And he liked to let everyone know he was a political conservative. I was one of his few friends.

Even so, I didn't feel good about his asking me: "Jim...what do you want to be called?"

I knew darn good and well he was wondering what I call my ethnic background. (And I didn't want to answer that way.)

So I just told him: "I just want to be called Jim. That's my name."

That's how I see myself: I'm a human being first, an American second, and an African American third.  

Another thing: The trial down in Florida got me to thinking about how President Barack Obama's been treated by this country's Republican lawmakers and by their cheerleaders...the people with the shows on this country's so-called news and information stations. 

I'm still burned up by Arizona Gov. Janet Brewer wagging her finger at Obama at Phoenix' Sky Harbor Airport. Utter disrespect from Brewer and so many of her fellow Republicans.

Sure, US Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who lost in 2008 to Obama (at that time a US senator from Illinois), praised him for his speech about the Zimmerman trial. According to McCain, maybe we can finally have That Talk (about ethnicity in America).

It's really not going to happen as long as US Reps. Michael Burgess and Louie Gohmert (both R-TX) keep getting in the way. Burgess has echoed Donald Trump by constantly questioning Obama's educational standing: "He didn't go to Harvard Law School!"

And all Gohmert has done these last four years is question the president's religion, claiming Obama to be a Muslim, not the Christian he really is.

The Republicans continue to "mourn" the alleged "death" of so-called traditional America. They refuse to accept how the country's face is changing, becoming more inclusive of people of ALL backgrounds.

One of those Republicans, US Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, has urged Martin's supporters to get over the recent verdict finding Zimmerman not guilty.

Tell you what, Mr. Harris: Why don't you and other Republicans get over the fact that America's face is changing?

Why don't you all get over the fact that we've now got a president named Barack Obama...and start learning to work together with him and other non-Republicans? 

Why don't you stop having all these phony investigations in the hope that you'll impeach Obama and start passing laws the people can actually use...like a jobs bill, for crying out loud?

Why don't you people start putting us rank-and-file citizens first...and not your party?

If you want the votes of this country's Black, Brown, Red, and Yellow people of both genders...as well as women of all colors...why don't you STOP dehumanizing and demonizing them?  

You folks ever do that, those of us who don't feel welcome here will start to feel better. 

And we'll finally get closer to the postracial environment so many pundits predicted would come out of Obama beating McCain in 2008.

Thanks for reading "Boston's Blog!"  

No comments:

Post a Comment