Keep Hope Alive!

We shall not be moved!


I doubt that I have anything revolutionary or ground-breaking to say on the topic I’ve chosen for this installment. I’m sure that by this time in our social development, everything that I am going to say, has been said more eloquently, more sagely, and more entertainingly even than I ever could. But still, I want to say them with a particular emphasis on how these universal conditions relate to our community of Toronto, Ohio.

Today, as I post this message, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States. Even in Arizona. Even in Jasper, Texas. Even in Toronto, Ohio.

I remember as a child growing up in this town that there were far fewer black families than there are today. I’m not saying that we were guilty of apartheid. In those days, so far as I knew, black families were welcome to move in – at least officially they were. I’m also certain that there were those who did their best to make the idea intolerable for the few who might have considered our real estate offerings.

I’ve been told that before my time, there were Klansmen who marched in the streets of Toronto. I never saw them, because it was impolitic by the time I was born, but perhaps they were still here. Perhaps they are still here today. That is their right, if they exist, though I’m just as happy that they remain an underground movement.

This is not to say that there are no blatant examples of racism to be found. I’ve seen rebel flags flying, and I’m sure that at least some of those are meant to serve the purpose of alerting the neighborhood Negroes that the flyer’s daughters are off limits as dating fodder. Also, I’ll admit with reservation that I’ve known specific people who have as much as told me that they hate “those people.” Sometimes the reason has to do with some perceived slight, but more often than not, it just has to do with the color of somebody’s skin.

Of course, racism is legal. Every man woman and child in America, regardless of his race, creed or country of origin has the perfect right to hate whoever he likes – or dis-likes as the case may be. The thing is, it’s just so damned stupid.

It’s a self perpetuating cycle. I’ll hate him, because he obviously hates me. Well, duh. Maybe he hates you, because you so obviously hate him.

The white liberals of the world tend to feel guilt over this situation. They know that their forebears were responsible for atrocities against the black race, and they feel a responsibility to somehow right the wrongs. Let me tell you something. We can’t right those kinds of wrongs ever. For one thing, the actual people who were first wronged are long since dead. For another thing, the descendants who have taken their place are being wronged by people even today; so while we are making up for past wrongs, new wrongs are occurring. For even another thing, you can never make up for somebody else’s wrong doing, and the original offenders are as dead as the original offendees.

Another point to be taken under advisement; racism is universal. No matter what laws are passed, no matter what barriers are broken, there are always going to be some bigoted black people, just as there are always going to be bigots amongst the whites and the Asians and the Hispanics, and the indigenous peoples, and every other sub-sect of every population on the planet. I suspect it is built into us. It’s probably what killed the Neanderthal.

Does this mean we should accept it and incorporate it into our social structure? Certainly not. Urinating on trees is built into our wiring as well, but we don’t do that if we can help it. It’s a juvenile impulse that civilization has tried (and rightly so) to suppress.

Consequently, the main obstacle that I see to improving race relations even further is the perceived slight. When a white person gets a spot on the team, the black man sees it as a racial perque. When the black man gets an acquittal due to insufficient evidence, the white man sees it as an unfair legal concession. Both claims might have merit, but they are also both un-testable, and not worthy of grudges

All that said, all of that aside, I have to say that I’m pretty proud of the way our little community has gracefully transitioned into the segregated community we are today, imperfect as that segregation may be. I’m not black, so I can only speak as a witness who hopes he’s impartial. It seems to me that compared to some communities, we do a pretty good job of treating our black brothers and sisters as equals; even the ones who can’t play sports.

To read the complete text of Mr. King’s famous “I’ve got a dream'” speech, click here . And enjoy the day off, whatever color you are.

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