As we approach the Holiday recognizing the contributions of Dr. King, I always tend to think about where we were, where we are and where we have yet to go. To me, this is a day to stop and think. And remember.
As a Southerner of a certain age, I just can’t let this day pass without comment. I don’t see how anyone of my generation can.
I grew up in the South before integration and during the Civil Rights Movement. I’m not sure if I even spoke to a black person, other than our maid, before the schools were integrated when I was in the 5th grade. People seem to forget the South in the early 1960’s was like South Africa under apartheid. It was a very separate and scary place. Everyone–and I mean everyone– had their place and society tried to keep them in it.
I think the late, great Molly Ivins said it best. Molly once wrote: “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point — race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.”
That was certainly the case for me. Realizing the falsities of racism made it possible to question many things, including homophobia, and to grow into acceptance and happiness about who I am today. This realization made it possible to meet and get to know people who have made my life much richer than it would have been without them in it. It made me value the need to learn and explore ideas, people and places that many people I knew wanted to ignore or discount. It made me think and grow.
Dr King once said: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Well said. That was, and sometimes still is, our biggest danger.
But, thankfully, a lot of us asked questions. We still do. Some of us are still trying to learn and figure things out. We have come a long way but have a long way to go. That’s why it’s so vital we ask questions and don’t accept simple answers. That we get to know and talk to people who aren’t like us. We sometimes discover they really are like us. That leads to more questions…
Racism is still very much with us. Don’t ever think the Teabaggers aren’t about racism. They are. They just may not even be able to admit that to themselves. If they could ask questions, they would ask why they weren’t upset about George Bush taking us from a budget surplus to a horrendous deficit. Instead, they blame Obama…
You figure that one out.
This is a re-post from last year on my other blog. I promise new posts- real new posts- are coming!