Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Race Matters

Guess what we had for Monday night's party?

That's right.  Bubba burgers.  (Had that one for leftover lunch yesterday; short on lettuce but still good).

And guess what I wore?  

Right again.  I wore that t-shirt my Jewish American buddy Gary gave me.  He, Maggie, and their kids joined our family for dinner, so I thought it'd be fitting.  His cousin had made several hundred of the shirts to try to sell on ebay for a few hundred more bucks, a failed venture.  Valerie and Germaine our African American neighbors came over too, and laughed loudest at the slogan on me.  Julie had just coincidentally picked up WonderBread buns from the store shelves, when the popular local brand is Mrs Bairds.  And I displayed the bag and the burger patty box, as in the pic above, for more chuckles.  (What hasn't been so funny is that someone keeps stealing the Obama signs from our yards).

Anyway, my in-laws were with us too, one of them really named "Bubba," so it was quite a great mix of people.  Lots of laughter!  

We did talk and disagree some about U.S. presidential politics (as the in-laws can't believe anyone--in a red state anyway--would support such a liberal inexperienced candidate), ate banana pudding outside by the pool under the moon (to celebrate the latest draft of my dissertation), and then went in to watch the Browns trounce the Giants (and since we're mostly Cowboys fans, who cares right?).  

Of course, during a commercial, I had to go and quote something out of Cornel West's Race Matters:

"In white America, cultural conservatism takes the form of a chronic racism, sexism, and homophobia. Hence, only certain kinds of black people deserve high positions, that is, those who accept the rules played by the games of white America." 

Then, yesterday, as I'm getting ready to leave for work, my father-in-law, a Euro American pastor of a fundamentalist west Texas Cowboy Church gives me something.  He opens his Bible and in his drawl reads:

"Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.  Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body."  

More laughs.  He's a history - Bible double major who's been to two different seminaries for two different advanced degrees and now rides horses as much as he preaches.  I get that he's telling me, "It aint the learnin' but what direction your schoolin' takes you in that matters most.  Don't go hurtin' nobody with your smarts."  (Which also translates to:  "Conservatism in America is what we want most, and if you're one of us, then don't go rocking the boat.  Why change so much").

Makes me wonder who I am, and who "we" really are.  But on the drive in to work yesterday, I kept thinking about what my sponsor says from time to time:

"It's better to be a resentment than to have one."  

Normally, I could live with that advice.  But I've been reading too many of Aristotle's "it's better to" statements lately.  

I don't want either (A) to be a resentment or (B) to have a resentment.  
I don't want either (A) to read lots of certain books and offend my conservative in-laws or (B) to stay quiet about "our" "white" America.   
When race matters, and class, and gender, and language, I want my family friends and neighbors to have good change in all directions, not just in one or the other.

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