Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Oct 21st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

He’s the First Bi-racial President

tom_honig_sSo much was made about Barack Obama being the first African-American president, that more subtle—and more important—issues were ignored.

Obama, at 48, is decidedly not a Baby Boomer. He wasn’t part of the raging segregation debate of the ’50s, nor was he an adult during the tumult of the ’60s—black power, white rage, all the rest.

Obama’s election was instead a triumph of a new generation, one that is more comfortable about diversity than the generation that came before. Nowhere is that more obvious than the recent public discussion of whether the rude outburst by U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican. A number of columnists, and no less an observer than former President Jimmy Carter, almost reflexively maneuvered themselves to an allegation of racism.

That reaction is perfectly understandable to those of us of a certain age. Anyone who’s a veteran of the ’50s or the ’60s can be excused for looking at things through a narrow lens—the first African-American president and a racist backlash. We lived through those things.

But one of the greatest things about any new generation is just that—it’s a new generation. And the one that follows the Baby Boom—Gen X, or maybe the Baby Bust (it’s been called a number of things)—has an experience far different from what came before.

That freshness and lack of experience can easily be criticized by huffy older folks, but it also gives us all a chance to start afresh. In the late ’60s, black and white people started teaming up in a way never experienced before. Biracial became a new part of the population, and biracial identity is one that really isn’t discussed much, certainly not in the mainstream press.

Rarely do we hear President Obama described as the nation’s first biracial president. Or even the first multi-racial president. But he is. Think back to his brilliant and memorable speech on race in the aftermath of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright flap. Anyone with an interest in race in America ought to remember that speech, because it will probably be one of the most celebrated speeches in our time. “I can no more disown (the Rev. Wright) than I can disown the black community,” he said. “ I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother.”

Then, in the aftermath of Rep. Wilson’s interruption, Obama shrugged it off. That’s a powerful strategy. He shrugged it off.

That’s not to say that race is somehow a closed subject. In fact, race isn’t discussed—either here in Santa Cruz or around the country—near enough. But the subject of race is a far more complicated one than many of us—and mostly the media—realize.

To someone under 40, the outdated, simple story of race in America makes little sense. What race are you discussing? Diversity means just that—there are no set patterns here. When election results are announced on television news shows at election time, we hear a lot about the black vote, the Latino vote and even the gay vote. But ever-so-slowly, those descriptions mean less and less as new shades of gray are introduced into the American population.

The Census Bureau has had a tough time keeping up-to-date on its racial categories, because the increasing multi-racial nature of our population is getting harder to document.

In one of the great old-time blues songs, the late Memphis Slim weaved a tale about going back home to the South and how he had to re-learn the old ways of segregation. Happily, that song sounds dated today, and in his song, he had the answer. “It’s youth,” he said. “They’re changing things.”

That process doesn’t slow down. Rep. Wilson’s outburst reflects only on him—and his supporters. It doesn’t reflect on the president. And the president’s reaction was perfect. He shrugged it off.

And it’s not only race. The recent vote in California to support the anti-gay marriage Prop.  eight will be unthinkable in 10 years time. To those under 40, being gay is roughly equivalent to being left-handed. It’s what someone is. No big deal.

Racism, and prejudice, of course, still exist. They will as long as there is diversity in America. But what’s important to remember is that racism—like race—gets more complex over time. Race remains a subject of key importance —just as President Obama showed in his speech.

But the whole discussion requires more thought than before. And those of us who were around in an earlier era would do well to regard how things have changed, and how we live now.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay