Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Labels Part one and a half

Okay, I have been exceedingly slow in getting to this and, to be very honest, I still haven't come to any sort of conclusions about this just yet.

I've been putting together a diversity and conflict resolution program for an outfit in Boston and I suspect I'll have some good background material from the young participants afterwards. But as of now there's nothing more to say, at least nothing new to offer from my perspective. know that's a major fib.

But I'm gonna wait for a bit before pontificating on this again. I'm also going to talk to that other expert in my house. No, not Robert. This time I think it's time to see how Esther sees this whole racial issue. I'm guessing that at almost five she has had little influencing her aside from knowing that the Disney TV show "Sister Sister" was about dark skinned people. She relates pictures of black men to me. And she knows her momma isn't black.

More soon, I promise.

Meanwhile here's some of the latest. Robert just was accepted into the gifted and talented student pool for Fairfax County! He's so very proud of himself and mom and dad are a bit taken with him too!

A contemporary of mine from college just died,

Rotan and I were never really close (in fact at one point he and I shared the attention of a lovely young sister and he attempted to punch yours truly out over it. He later married her and subsequently they divorced) but we did share a common passion for doing things right and standing up to the nonsense surrounding and sometimes overflowing our college campus in the late sixties. Both of us, as well as many others, were involved in student government, protests, and generally doing as much as we possibly could to help the Eastern Shore of Maryland ease into the twentieth century. As you can see from his obit, he continued that tradition over the course of his life.

My favorite moment with him came in the begining of my senior year, seated next to him in the general survey course of English lit, which I had discovered was all I needed to take to be able to declare a double major in History and English. Our professor had just moved back to the States after considerable time in England where she had been teaching.

After she began her first lecture Rotan and I turned to one another, perplexed as hell as we could barely discern that she was speaking English (which, naturally she was). We ended up taking notes on her vocabulary for the next month or so. My senior year, both semesters, that was the only course I really had to work on! I think rotan was so impressed with her ability to confound us with words that he continued that tradition too!

I've been back to the school a few times since I graduated in 1970 and have warm memories of my time there (see Fraternity Brother for a quick snap shot) and I also know that I developed a more healthy self image after being immersed in African-American culture there. My fellow "Hawks" and I share a bond that only those who attend a historically black school know and understand (even those white students who attend have a deep understanding of this as well. We had several and they proved to be just as 'down with the program' as any of us). I wonder if that atmosphere has changed that much over the years.

But, and here's a hint, the most profound lesson I learned there was that unless and until one could transcend labels one was condemned to hold a very narrow view of the world.

As Anais Nin wrote: We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.

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