It was a typical summer party at the West house this summer. The company invited included Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Jews, Gentiles, male and female. The only group that was not diversified was our dogs – who are English bulldogs and Winston is particularly unfriendly when faced with a new friend (smile). The West’s just like nice people, the West’s just like smart people and quite frankly we like people who are willing to listen to other viewpoints they don’t agree with, necessarily. And this requirement goes both ways. But we are still part of what is considered as the “Old Folks”. We look at “race” as an issue; we look at “gender” as an issue; we look at religion as an issue. In fact, we have so many issues, they make up volumes of “hang-ups” and memories that hold pain and anguish. In some cases these pains are legitimate and sometimes they are as ripe and palpable as the day they occurred.
I remember being at the youth center on post where my Dad was stationed at the time. Reality tells me that I could not have been older than 10 years old and that means that my first set of brothers were 8, 6, and 4 respectively. A boy told us his father told HIM that we were nothing but “uppity niggers”, we did not know what that meant but “them were fighting words”, and we beat him and his brothers up. Soon after we were all friends, but we knew our boundaries. Playground justice. I also remember when a substitute fifth grade teacher told me “you think you are so cute because you are “light skinded”, my girls could kick your butt any day”. This was an example of an “old folk” brining the bitterness that she experienced as a darker complexioned Black woman to rest on the shoulders of a 10 year old (me), who was clueless about the unhappiness of her past. We all have “junk in our trunk” and this is counter-productive to progress and harmony in our personal lives, in our business lives and in society as a whole.
Why the personal background, well, mainly to outline the fact that that we bring our baggage to a situation today that resembles nothing like the “bad old days”. And this is not to suggest that everything in the “old days” were “bad” but on the issue of race and a number of other categories……. let’s just say the times were not all that good or even good at all.
So, it is against the backdrop I am looking at the issue of the San Francisco middle school principal Lena Van Haren saw which kids on her campus had been elected to the student council, she was disturbed at the lack of diversity among the winners. There were no Latino or black candidates chosen for the top four spots. So, what did she do? What she did was probably something that should cost her, her job. But to her superiors and colleagues, she might be considered a “hero”. What did she do?????? Principal Van Haren decided to withhold the results of the Oct. 9 election for more than a week, saying the school community needed to figure out how to have a more representative government.
In other words, she decided to insert her “junk” into something that the children decided on their own. Why, because they can not be trusted to use their own instincts, they can not be trusted to be “color blind”, she has to instruct them that people are people, they are a color, they are a gender and SHE has to be the “decider”. Under pressure from parents and the district administration, the principal announced the election results Monday afternoon, going class to class with the information.
She said that she wanted it to be a “teachable moment”. The only thing that she taught the pupils is that she is “out of step” and “over her head” in the issue of diversity, fair play and democracy. In addition, aside from the obvious box that was filled in by the parents, how does she know what these kids consider themselves, if anything at all. These kids no longer think the way that we do on race, religion and gender issues. And for the most part, THANK YOU JESUS.
Interracial marriage has been fully legal in all U.S. states since the 1967 Supreme Court decision that deemed anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, with many states choosing to legalize interracial marriage at earlier dates. Multiracial Americans numbered 9.0 million in 2010, or 2.9% of the total population, but 5.6% of the population under age 18—- it is on the rise. Wikipedia
A record 15.1% (as of 2010) of all new marriages in the United States were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another. This compares to 8.4% of all current marriages regardless of when they occurred. This includes marriages between a Hispanic and non-Hispanic (Hispanics are an ethnic group, not a race) as well as marriages between spouses of different races – be they white, black, Asian, American Indian or those who identify as being of multiple races or some other race.
Among all newlyweds, 9.4% of whites, 17.1% of blacks, 25.7% of Hispanics and 27.7% of Asians married someone whose race or ethnicity was different from their own. This is an amazing number. AND among the marriages that are LEAST likely to end in divorce are those in which a WHITE MALE marries and NON-WHITE FEMALE — Black, Hispanic or Asian.
Gender patterns in intermarriage vary widely. Some 24% of all black male newlyweds in 2010 married outside their race, compared with just 9% of black female newlyweds. Among Asians, the gender pattern runs the other way. Some 36% of Asian female newlyweds married outside their race in 2010, compared with just 17% of Asian male newlyweds. Among whites and Hispanics, by contrast, there are no gender differences in intermarriage rates.
But even without the specter of “interracial marriage” ….. which sets some parents on edge because of THEIR OWN preferences, the friend set of your average teen today will include many colors, creeds and ethnicities, if they are left alone without parental engineering. I recall going to a Shabbat dinner at a family’s home and my eldest daughter played the piano and sang while the family’s pride and joy — their eldest son played the guitar. The mother cornered me before we left and told me that although my daughters were beautiful, her sons will marry Jewish girls. Pretty interesting since my girls were just 8 and 12 years old at the time. I was not measuring them for their wedding dresses that evening. We never spoke to that family again although the dinner was good and the conversation intelligent. I don’t miss them nor their bag of “old folks thinking”.
So, while we focus on differences, the kids are doing just fine moving towards the “color-blind” society. The only thing that us “old folks” can do is “mess it up”….. At least on this issue…… what do you think?