Sunday, April 14, 2013

Which lives matter?

Welcome to the 21st Century's unexpected task.
We thought we'd finished with prejudice and other such wrong thinking at least in our own country.
There remains not a single defensible position for racial discrimination.  All the remnants of those arguments are ignorance, fear, and unreasoning hatred.

Did you know that skin color changes with location and UV levels; your family was probably a different color somewhere in the past.  In a hundred generations (the blink of an eye) and without interbreeding, a population can change color from light to dark or dark to light.  Melanin magic; ensures we can make the vitamin D we need but not get too much UV damage. Pretty cool design. Color is really neat; I'd prefer green next.  Not that it matters.  Color is NOT reliably distinctive of anything other than where your family lived for the last hundred or so generations.  HA.  I wonder if Governor Deal and the Wilcox Georgia town council could stand knowing that.

We so have many reasons to be thankful for the legacy of our forefathers. So much good has been bought and paid for by men and women of good conscience.  Many died that we might live in liberty.

   Not all that has accompanied the process has been noble, however.

      Some of the leftovers like racism were just wrong.

Scientifically wrong.
Morally wrong.

... and we thought we were done with lessons about race.

When western expansion was young, we were told that the lands we saw were ours for the taking, and that we need have no concern for the indigenous savages.  We did that in Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Colonialism.  And manifest destiny.

Slavery and slaughter filled the years.  White superiority made sense to some.

They told us there were quality differences among the races with the white people being superior to the colored ones.

We were told that the dark ones weren't smart and couldn't learn much.  It has taken two hundred years to pull that one down.  So far.

Emerging from the lockbox of cultural constraints, now non-white talent and skill, leadership and erudition have emerged and taken their place at the top of relevance and significance in human history.

Fifty years ago, it was illegal for a white to marry a person of any color.  In 1959, a bricklayer and his wife pled guilty in a Virginia state court. A trial judge sentenced them both to one year in prison, suspending the sentence on condition that they leave the state and not return for 25 years. In considering his verdict, the judge wrote:
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
OK, that's embarrassing, but it gets worse.

The US Supreme Court overturned all such laws in 1967, but many laws against interracial marriage actually remained on the state  books for decades.  It wasn't until 2000 that Alabama finally voted to remove that anti-miscegenation provision from their state constitution.  It wasn't a landslide; 40% voted to keep the provision in place.  OK, that's worse.

Of note at the turn of the century, mixed race families have crossed the line from lamentable to admirable in most common public conversation.  Unfortunately, their acceptance is not yet uniform across the country.

Just this year, we hear of a Georgia high school having their first integrated (multi-racial) prom in history.  A group of courageous students are doing it against the expressed will of the majority of residents including the town council and parents groups.  APR 12, 2013, the governor, Nathan Deal (R), declined to comment, saying he didn't want to take sides on the issue.  DIDN'T want to TAKE SIDES on SEGREGATION?!!!!!?  Give us a break gov, it's the 21st century.  (His spokesman called the all-included-prom a "silly publicity stunt.")