I was thinking....
We can look back now and wonder, how we 'got' over - in
consideration of the changes that have been made?
If we keep doing what we have been doing
We will keep getting
What we have been getting!
Author: Said Derrick Bell of Faces At the Bottom of the Well
Tonight I had the pleasure of hearing
Professor Angela Davis speak in an
intimate setting at Mills College in Oakland California,
and she nailed it - more on her talk in the future!
A decade or so ago, I was in a conversation with one of my closest Filipino friends. Lourdes, her husband and I became friends at Stanford University. I enjoyed sharing their beautiful Time Share accommodations one winter, at the foot of Heavenly Valley in Lake Tahoe some years ago. Lourdes, it turned out had been a victim of prolonged and systematic racial and sexual discrimination at Stanford, well, until the Rev came along and helped to bring her trial by fire to a close!
I. What Happened To Lourdes?"
One day, I noticed Lourdes cowering following some uninterpretable words that were directed at her in the Pilipino language by a Stanford staff member. I went to her and inquired, what did he say to you?
Lourdes and her extended family were recent newcomers to the U.S.A., she did not understand that she did not have to put with the sexual and racial harassment that she endured from this white Stanford faculty member. Lourdes was so new to the U.S.A., I was told that when she met her new manager at Stanford she actually bowed in front of her when they met!
We didn't know each other that well at the time that I witnessed the incident, and she would only tell me that what her co-worker was saying very nasty things to her. The next time I heard him, I jotted down the words that he spoke, took them to a translator - and was stunned to learn the meaning of the salacious words that he constantly tortured this woman with on a regular basis.
I went to the staffmember, and subsequently to his boss - given his negative reaction when I confronted him. To my surprise, his female boss defended him. And no wonder, she subsequently expressed her upset over being forced to attend 'multi-cultural and sensitivity training classes at the University'. She felt that the one's who were guilty of any infractions should be made to attend those classes, not her!
Given my newly acquired status at the University, I discussed the problem with my colleagues and believe me something was done. It took a while, and in the end there were financial payouts and the perpetrator was eventually suspended. He didn't like me, but like most bullies - he was nothing but a coward (I grew up with one of those so I was completely unfazed by his antipathy).
II. American Institutions Run Rampant With Racial Discord:
There were many infractions of this kind on the campus. In speaking with the VP of Human Resources, a friend and colleague - he said, at Stanford we advocate multi-culturalism, however, we really don't know how to manage it.
We were also having problems within our classes, a student actually called a black professor a nigger during class. Other white students began openly taunting minority students as well as black staff during class, proclaiming that the only reason that they were there in the first place was because of 'Affirmative Action'.
The University, like many other colleges and universities that were experiencing similar problems (no hanging nooses at the time), didn't know what to do at first. Some of our bold white students insisted that they had a First Amendment 'free speech right' protected by the constitution, that protected their right to say whatever they wanted; even the right to call a professor 'nigger' while class was in session.
Clearly the past few centuries in America and the multi-cultural experiment that ensued, which was responsible for bringing disparate and disparaged cultures together, had not run as smoothly as one would have hoped. And given this nation's creeds, one would certainly have expected that if any nation in this world would have done a better job of dealing with multi-culturalism, the United States would have been the one to do so.
What were individuals of disparate races actually saying to other races and diverse people? In short they were saying: You are not going to make me love you!
Even when Alexis de Tocqueville and his comrade visited the United States in the 19th Century in order to write about America's successful democracy, and democratization across the land, he did not shield the unfavorable facts. In spite of his otherwise glowing assessment of the American experiment, he wrote about the economic disparities and social stratification that persisted in this land, in deference to all of its noble creeds.
And how far have we come? Believe it or not, things have gotten better - so much so that some Americans who fought for a multi-cultural society, and for freedom for all people regardless of one's racial ethnicity are beginning to balk at it. Wouldn't it be something if we discover one day that God chose America to conduct this racial experiment on, hoping that its outcomes would be beneficial for and to all other nations of the earth?
III. Why Are You Bringing That White Girl To My House:
A former black girlfriend's son reached dating age a few years ago. His mom became very disheartened because her son preferred white girls over black ones. He was receiving notes, gifts, phone calls and all from white girls. His mom discussed her feelings with me. I said, well isn't this what we fought for during the turbulent 60's and 70's, the right to choose?
And I asked her, isn't this what Dr. King envisioned, a day when little black boys and little white girls would walk hand in hand...? Many of us did not realize what we were saying, neither did we take the words of Dr. King's speech literally. It was as if we wanted the freedom, however, we did not expect anyone to take it this far, especially when they wanted to bring individuals of other races right into black domiciles.
Dr. King, we now know dated a white woman during his college years. And frankly, many of our black civil rights leaders have from time to time been involved with women of other races - if not married to them. A group of us at Stanford rolled with laughter when we were told about one of of our 'down with the cause - power to the people right on - afro pick - Mandingo warrior - Afro-Centric organization leading brothers', who was previously exposed! How?
First of all this brother was black through and through, he looked, walked, talked and exuded blackness. This brother was so black that when he got into a car, the oil light would come on. He lived in Ujamaa, Stanford's black theme dorm. The problem was that over the weekends, he was always missing in action according to his dorm mates. Different students began to wonder about his weekly disappearing act, well that is until...!
One day, one of the students happened to be visiting nearby South San Francisco, a city roughly 30 miles from the campus. And who did they stumble across that was all hugged up with his white girlfriend, their 'down - black is beautiful - power to the people right on - afro picking - Nubian black leadership - Mandingo Warrior- brother! Given his strident viewpoints with regard to Afro-centrism, he did not want anyone to know that he had crossed over to the other side! No one had to make this brother love white women!
IV. Shocked Black Parents Will Have To Reconsider Their Own Racial Attitudes:
Many parents today will have to deal with their personal racial animus. The days of saying that it is the whites who do not want the blacks around, are being replaced by many black parents who are saying to their youngsters: Why are you bringing that white girl or boy up in my house?
In News Orleans where the paper bag test used to be prominent, some kids were shown paper bags and told two stories, if they aren't lighter than this paper - or, on the other hand if they are lighter than this paper bag, do not bring them home. And how about that other saying in the black community, 'if they can't use your comb don't bring her home'!
Okay, over the years there have been some exceptions. However, when most blacks witnessed multi-cultural couples in their neighborhoods or at sporting venues (O.J. and German girlfriend and late wife Nicole Simpson come to mind) a couple of decades ago, it was still somewhat of an anomaly back then. The Rev was was once dressed down by a couple of his college classmates.
I was the president of the Student-Faculty League of Social Workers at one of my college Alma Maters, I had been elected to office by both blacks and whites. One day, a white classmate invited me to go and to watch Prince's new movie at that time, "Purple Rain". The movie was showing in an on-campus theater. I said, sure why not? And we proceeded to walk a couple of buildings over, where we entered the campus theater and proceeded to watch the film together.
Ah, but a day or two later two of my black female campus classmates attacked me in the hallway. Their question went something like this, what is it when you brothers 'get up there' (I was President remember of the league, and they likely voted me in) that you have to run off and get a white girl? Eek, and 'shiver me timbers'!!!
Folks, I was stunned and about to catch a beat-down from the looks of things. Neither of these women had ever asked me out. And frankly, I hadn't considered going to watch a film with one of my student classmates, an infraction - after all I was her president as well as their president. I didn't tell them this, however, there was nothing between Becky and I. She never said anything out of place to me, and she did help me to get elected by campaigning and by petitioning the overwhelming majority white social work department to vote for me.
VI. What's Missing?
I know of many other black parents who are struggling, given that their kids are coming home with beaus and girlfriends from every color of the rainbow, as well as from various ethnic groups. Can't we all just get along? Not yet apparently!
A professor who later became a friend of mine, that relocated to our state approximately two decades ago, asked me to tell him where he could find a home, in an upper middle-class neighborhood where there were blacks. This dark hued and bald professor, was concerned that his black on the outside kids, were more white on the inside. Prior to relocating from New York, he had always resided in white communities. The professor wanted to turn his girls black inside, by exposing them to the black culture.
During my talks with Lourdes - who offered to introduce me to a few of her female friends and relatives, just as another friend (last name Chou) offered to fix me up with a relative of her's from Taiwan - we discussed our common heritage. The Filipino people are aware that they are descended from 'the Negritas'. Negritas' were direct descendants of Africans who mixed with islanders to produce the Filipino people.
With our new found ability to trace one's roots today, by using Mitochondrial DNA, it has been confirmed in an anecdotal sense anyway, that many of us share a common heritage. In other words, we are all related and or at least mixed with other races. I learned recently that my late maternal grandmother is part German. And that means that I have some of Hitler's blood in me!
In fact Hitler was related to the Salomons. He might be a relative of mine, or at least a relative of one of my family's Jewish slaveowners!
My God, I have always blasted the Germans for their racist attitudes and for their claims of Aryan purity and superiority, as well as their mistreatment of the Jewish people. And to find out that I had a little German in my blood, man, this was the thing that not only was Hitler trying to avoid, I was trying to avoid it too. Cousin Hitler and I might have been homey's, had we lived at the same time!
Hitler wanted to rid the world of the 'schwarze' and the Jews, the latter by extermination, so that the pure Aryan race would be free from the Jews that were so powerful in eastern Europe, and as he once noted in America.
It must have stunned him, if all accounts were true, to know that he had the blood of Jews running through his veins. I have always been equally as proud of my purely black (Jesse Owens like) pedigree. Man, all of us are mixed!
Astronaut Mae Jemison, one of our many infamous Stanford Alumni always appeared to have a tint of Chinese in her as far as I was concerned. I would study her closely on her return visits to the campus. Don't get me wrong, she was a FINE looking woman, may I add; but she wasn't fully black I thought. Did I say that she was fine! Sorry, I am a Rev but the Rev has good eyes, and he appreciates the 'finer things in life' er herm! Okay, I admit it I look at some women and say "LAWD have mercy! But I don't act on it folks!
Recently, with the help of Professor Louis Gates from Harvard and Yale, Dr. Jemison learned that she was part Asian, just as I had always suspected!
So what are we going to do now that it is being confirmed that many of us are mixed with Irish blood, or Indian blood or God forbid..., I won't say it? Similar to the Brasilians, we are a mongrel country. Reverend Al Sharpton must have..., well, let's not talk about that either. Years ago I met a white woman who wanted to date the Rev, she accused the reverend of being a reverse racist , when I declined her invitation to date.
Now folks, maybe somewhere deep down inside I did or did not want to date her given that she was white, however, my real reason for not wanting to date her was because the Rev was simply not attracted to her.
I asked another white woman who wanted to date the Rev, why do you want to exclusively date black men? She answered me this way, she said, 'some people like pork chops'! It took me a week to figure out what she was talking about, pork chops? Hey, I'm slow! She was saying that some people like pork chops and some like beef shanks, and that some people like white meat and others black men! By the time I figured it out, she was long gone anyway, besides, I felt that her reason for wanting to date black men was mostly shallow even if I didn't know what she meant by that pork chop comment.
VII. Dr. King's Vision Has Become A Reality:
So what are we going to do now that the King vision, along with its unexpected consequences has become a reality in our lives today? We could return to the 50's, and admit that the white segregationists were correct! But before we do that let me tell you a few more short stories.
I was speaking with a white woman on the phone some years ago. We were engaged in a business discussion, when she drifted off and began sharing her feelings about her daughter and her mixed granddaughter. Now get this, she did not know that the Rev was a black man, and she went on to tell me how her daughter had a child by 'one of them'; that is what she actually said. Her daughter even married him, she went on to say.
Never pausing to consider how I might react regardless of my race, she explained that she treated the child nicely, because it wasn't the child's fault or something to that effect. Poor woman I thought as I hung up later without telling her that she was talking to a black man. She was obviously very comfortable with me over the phone, and we agreed to do business together before I hung up. It was a good thing that we did our work over the phone!
And on yet another occasion, when the Rev attempted to reach a white gentleman to conduct business with around the same time, his wife reacted differently when she answered the phone. I had phoned this gentleman's house a couple of times before, and each time she would answer the phone. Her husband asked, in the background, who is that on the phone? His wife responded so that I could hear her, "its that damn nigger again'. Ouch!!
When I was young, about 17 to be exact, I started searching for my first apartment. I had already been turned down at one place, despite the fact that I qualified, had a great job and could easily pay the rent. Why? Because the whites didn't want a black in the building, that is what the apologetic and apoplectic owner of the building told me.
While continuing my search for my first apartment, another white woman who was pleased at first speaking with me over the phone, apparently, detected that I was black. All of the sudden she cut the conversation short, saying as she hung up - "I don't rent to niggers", . Tears tears!!
Today, there has been a positive shift in race relations in this country to a certain degree. Instead of, I don't want you here, now it is - how do I get you over here? And the interesting thing is, I don't want to be there, I am happy being right where I am, black and single! Is the Rev a reverse racist? I like to think of myself more like what Theologian Dr. C. Eric Lincoln from New York described as 'conscious of kind'; something that is apparently innate!
All of us discriminate with respect to what we eat, drink, wear..., and who we date. All of us are more comfortable with people with whom we feel that we have something in common!
I frequently encounter women from various cultures and different ethnic backgrounds, who are absolutely gorgeous. And even though technically, I have never dated outside of my own race - some might not agree, I don't see anything wrong with dating or marrying whoever you want to marry. Simply make sure that God approves of it, and that you don't see the person as a 'pork chop', er herm!
Now because the Rev tended to be somewhat erudite, doctrinaire, articulate, successful and perhaps snooty back in the day some have told me, I suspect that is why a black woman menacingly asked me or stated, 'you are married to a white woman aren't you'?
From antiquity, to slavery, to integration and to the possibility of America electing its second black President, this time a mixed half and half brother (I suppose you have to do this thing in stages), we have entered into a new era in the United States of America, despite the ' re-emergence of noose sightings in the south'. By the way, the black community, in my opinion, mis-reacted! If only we could come together as such to address real problems (even the ones within our own neighborhoods), as opposed to wasting too much energy reacting to superficial ones!
VIII. The Country has Undergone a Change:
The majority of whites have changed, and now it appears that it will be up to blacks to change from their pent-up up feelings of racial self-consciousness, and cultural anomie. I debated a couple of local professors, both black women, just over a decade ago. I had just began dating one of them, when during an intimate dinner for three party that was held at my soon-to-be girlfriend's house, we engaged in spirited dinner conversation.
These two beautiful and professional black women tried to convince me that no one wanted them, or their other beautiful and well-educated cohorts. All of the 'sistahs' in their cohort group were succesful MBAs and PH.Ded Bay area professionals. From time to time they would go away and have 'sistah meetings' at places like Mt. Talmapais - where they would camp out and have 'waiting to exhale girl talks'. We all know what they were likely talking about, trifling black males who possess the spirit of the dawg?
The other times, when this group of accomplished females were not teaching or tending to their other business affairs, they would go together to beauty and health spas, where they 'would float' in whirlpools (just kidding), have beauty treatments, get 'cucumber wraps', facials treatments or have the skin on their faces exfoliated. Even though all of these women that I was hearing about, and the two that I was with, apparently had it together, I couldn't resist interrupting. I asked my new sweety, and how many of you have a man? She laughed out loud and replied, well none of us actually!
She asked, wanting to get a man's perspective why I felt that prior to our meeting that neither she nor any of her attractive and accomplished friends had a man? I proferred, well perhaps everything that you folks have been doing, was done in order to satisfy the standards that have been set by other women. Oftentimes, both sexes are guilty of this and decide among themselves, what the other 'should want'!
And what is so interesting about that, neither side has sat down to simply talk with the other side to find out what they were looking for, particularly the 'individuals' on the other side. I also told her that for sure she had noticed in the past that most of the times the work that she put into being what she thought that the other side wanted, that they didn't even notice. She agreed!
Men can relate to this, how often does a woman come home or to you from the beauty shop 'or floating', and she wants you to notice that she has had a facial, a manicure, a pedicure, a manicure or that she got her ends clipped? We always say the wrong things like, yea you look good baby and how much did that cost? Does a man want a woman to be beautiful, of course he does? However, when it gets down to the intricate details of whether or not your skin has been exfoliated, or your ends have been cut, oftentimes we don't know anything about that.
I will admit that half the time I cannot tell whether or not a woman is sporting her real hair or whether or not she is donning a wig. One woman that I dated before, I did not recognize at first on our second date. The first time we got together she donned long silver-glazed locks, the next time that I saw her she had short black hair. I wondered, is this the same woman? She was an Ebony fashion fair cosmetologist, and she also did makeup work for television news anchors in Los Angeles, prior to moving up north. She could really do some very exotic things to herself!
Well, back to the 'Professor Sistahs' (let's call them) hee hee. I spent the evening trying to convince them that they 'had issues' because men of all races desired black women, especially attractive and accomplished women.
So to prove their point that they were right and I was wrong and that men simply did not want 'black women', they told me about a recent experience that they both shared. One week before my new sweety and I met, there was a party held that a lot of the progressive brothers and sistahs from the Bay area attended. The' Professor Sistah's', PhD and all told me that not one of the men crossed the invisible plane to speak with or attempt to dance with them. Then they asked Mr. Smarty pants, and how do you explain that? I asked, did you walk across the invisible plane and attempt to speak or dance with them?
As they looked at each other, I proceeded to dig in and eat some of the home-baked and still in a transparent glass baking dish home-cooked banana pudding that I brought to the dinner party. I agreed to bring dessert for the evening. By the way, everyone loved the pudding. It was a hit, albeit the dish that it was served in was out of place given the elegant table-setting and flambe'd main course entree and meal that was prepared and served by my (model-gorgeous, snooty, Lexus driving, proper speaking, home-owning, cucumbered-exfoliated-facial-faced, FINE, professorial, on the way to becoming my girlfriend and at the same time soon to be history girlfriend, was out of place on that table! Country me?
How long did this black on black relationship last? Ah we lasted for several weeks and we had a lot of fun, however, she was too snooty for the Rev, fine but snooty. And besides that she kept calling me Cornelius (my real name by the way) in this real high register with the emphasis on 'Corn'. She also kept asking me, Corn - elius, about my financial worthiness. I ignored her pedant requests over the first two weeks while we talked and dated. However, during week three she announced that she was tired of being 'filabustered'.
Filabustered? When is the last time that you've been in a disagreement with your woman and she invoked the term, 'filabuster'? That ain't bein' black! Black women talk about 'yo mama', or something similar to that.
I told her that I was not filabustering her, and that my financial worthiness was none of her business - she had not known me long enough to be prying into my personal affairs, I told her. Snooty and PUSHY! Hit the road toad, I said, or something to that effect. She didn't like that! Perhaps that might have explained more than any other thing - why men as she put it, did not want her or her PhD. accomplice.
Having said all of that, she really was a kool human being! The truth is that we were moving in two different circles. She loved attending white-collared, snooty and stuffed-shirt affairs. I told her that I was used to doing the same, however, only on and as needed basis. She on the other hand, loved it! Black love? Folks, we still have some issues to work through within our own community!
Shortly after, I met and dated an Ebony model. I didn't believe her when she told me over the phone that she was in Ebony magazine, however, when I went to the library and got a copy of the magazine - there she was in Ebony magazine. And by the way, did I say that she was actress Diahann Carol fine? We didn't last a week. After a few elegant outings in wine country, and in upscale and luxurious BlackHawk California - we began to fight about east coast, west coast values. She didn't have any. Just kidding, but let me tell you why I said that!
She explained that west coast people needed to get in the real world, that we were too altruistic, and that money was all that mattered. She claimed that she learned that money was all that mattered from the Jews that she lived with while residing in Manhattan, just prior to her having relocated back to the west coast herself.
I told my FINE nubian Diahann Carol actress look alike and superficial 'sistah' that she was snooty, and was always giving people her resume, and that there was more to life than money. I also explained that Californians, frankly, were more socially conscience, and that we wanted to make the world a better place! She replied, well no man has ever talked to me that way before. I said, well one should have! End of that relationship, however, did I say that she was Fine?
Frankly, too many women today have done what author and speaker Lyanla Van Zandt talked about several years ago. Lyanla said that black women, she was speaking to a black audience, placed too much emphasis on looking good on the outside - instead of on what was on the inside! Okay, why am I telling you all of this? Folks, opportunties abound given the work that has been done over the past 40 years to improve race relations in this country.
Certainly, there are some hold-outs, however, the majority of us are getting along fine, and as a result we all can be more selective, and choose those that we are compatible with by factors other than race, and whether she is FINE!!!
Today, all of us have the freedom to find the one that we feel that we are compatible with, regardless of one's race or without worrying about being 'hanged' if we show up in public with them. With respect to the 3 professional women that I just discussed and there were others, I suspect that all 3 of them would be happier dating white men. They truly were acculturated more for them, and would be more comfortable thriving within a white cultural paradigm.
And there is nothing wrong with that! Filabuster? I read a report recently where white men who attempted to date white women overseas (in England no less), found that they were more culturally compatible with black women here in America! And what about the Rev? He will be happier for the time being simply staying home and watching, peacably, football games on a 'truly black' television screen!
Seriously, this is what we fought for, so that blacks, Jews, whites and every other race would be free to mix and intermingle with each other, and so that each of us could have equal to public accomodations, as well as to the opportunity structures of this nation. And this is what Dr. King died for as well as James Chaney, a 21-year-old black man from Meridian, Mississippi; Andrew Goodman, a 20-year-old Jewish anthropology student from New York; and Michael Schwerner fought and died for in Mississippi.
And as a result of what they died for, and what we fought for, your child might be bringing home a Filipino, Caucasion, Pacific Islander or someone of another race to meet you someday - someone that they love that happens to be of another race. You had better get used to it, and get used to knowing that your grandchildren are going to be of obvious mixed heritage, because your sons and daughters no longer view color as a barrier to love!
Oh and by the way, you might even be asked out by someone of another race yourself at the multi-cultural church that you attend, or at work or in the community where you live. However, if you think about it none of us are of a pure pedigree; there is likely some Native American, Irish, Asiatic of Teutonic blood in you already, no matter how you may deny it!
In Christ the scriptures teach us that there is neither Jew, Greek, bond or free. Get ready, for a new history is being written today - and more and more our young people are telling us, we don't carry the racial baggage that you folks have carried. And how come they don't, because we fought hard to they wouldn't have to!
Hopefully, in a few more decades if not sooner, people will look back at turbulent racial history as a period in human history, when all of us, some more than others, had to learn to live together. And when that time comes in the future some will have learned to love each other regardless of race, ethnicity or color. At least I hope so! For the time being history has been and still is being rewritten in this nation of ours!
Peace & Grace
Rev. C. Solomon
Great Books: Volumes I and II
Democracy In America by
Black and Single
Dr. Larry E. Davis
Joe R. Faegin
Addenda: Next challenge will be the total diversification of this nation. In less than two decades it is projected that the white race will be the minority
race in American. The aggregate number of today's minorities will
surpass the total number of caucasian American.s
Today, latinos and Hispanic numbers have
surpassed the number of blacks that are in
this country. And the disparity is
even larger, if you add the
total number of latinos
who are in this country
legally, with those
who are illegal.
Then their numbers will far outstrip the population of blacks in this country. The animus that has grown in some regions between the two cultures have been pronounced and noticable even during the current 'primary elections'.
It should not be that way. However, having said that, the
Spanish cultures were here, especially in the West,
long before whites and blacks apparently
showed up. And blacks and
latinos shared and
portions of California!
The largest state in the nation, California, is apparently named after an
Amazonian woman (gorgeous woman apparently), one so intriguing that
the Spanish explorers, named a region of the world after
'Califa'. And aparently the name stuck because
soon the whole state carried her name.!
And most cities, highways, valleys and
missions have Spanish names!
And who helped found the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.
The name recorded in the incorporation papers in this region
were spanish, however, the people were spanish blacks!
So, can't we all just get along and get pass
this period of homogenization. Some
don't want it to happen, fearing
that America will become
like Brasil, where
openly mixed with slave women to
produce a mongrel race! Mongrel
or not, those are some good
looking - Okay, better