As you may know I am not getting any younger and having lost my transportation recently, I dared to walk a few blocks to get a "C" battery so that my constant companion, my wall clock, could get "her moves" on again. It was easier than I had feared. Then, came tomorrow. It felt as though my shins were frozen in place. Ache? You really do not know "ache" until both shins are cramped and literally, screaming, every time you try to walk.
Fortunately, time heals all wounds (and also, wounds all "heels") and as my pain had reached a stage where I could walk about, I found my favorite chair and turned to MSNBC on the TV, hoping to hear what might have happened while I was asleep. Instead, I watched as Melissa Harris-Perry initiated a conversation on race, referring to the recent Oklahoma University ban on students from the SAE fraternity because of a recording of members singing a song about blacks - something I have to believe goes on behind closed doors on many campuses. It did in my years and since the college students of today so closely resemble my compatriots, I have to believe OU is not the only place we could hear similar chants. Such is life. At least in my day, the chants might have more closely resembled the "my Daddy can whip your Daddy" boasts of our younger years,
Nevertheless, here we go again What do we do? Ms. Harris had gathered a group of interested others and the discussion began, at "warp speed" according to my ancient ears, and her listeners had an opportunity to hear opinions on the subject. Opinions! Educated opinions, obviously, but as they spoke I heard the same kinds of impassioned comments that were popular in the late '50's. At least, those thoughts brought about reasoned legislation out of Congress and the rest of us moved on. hoping as I did, the matter would resolve itself. There are indications that it helped as today, our nations's minorities have many more opportunities in the work place, and the market place, to demonstrate their qualifications. Still, behind closed doors, we can believe the chants and the insults continue.
I was and am today, a white kid, born and raised in an environment where "nice" people used "gentile" tones in our conversations in the open. At home, we tended to resemble those OU students when the subject of race was raised. Then, I left home and soon found myself in the military in another nation and heard the words of our Commander regarding our relationships with native citizens. We were to "love" them. That is the word, I heard. I knew about love I thought, because I had been raised going to Sunday School every weekend. As I would meet some of the natives, I followed the Colonel's orders. I loved them to the best of my ability and I am pleased to say, in the four years I would serve in Japan and Korea, we had a excellent record. That included the integration of black Airmen into our all-white ranks and I was privileged to be the "lead" Airman for our base as that process unfolded. I met black men for the first time in my life. Proof that we got along well is the fact that three of them and I became life long friends. I was present at each of their funerals, dead too soon, because of the lack of sufficient health care in their youth.
Then, I left the USAF and enrolled in college in Atlanta, GA, and it was't long before I experienced race relations, from a Southern perspective. I was witness to an action where the ushers in the church I attended in downtown Atlanta, refused the admission of four, nicely dressed and very polite in their demeanor, black couples. They turned around and walked off as the tears began to well up in my eyes. I had made a choice to live there, attend college there, live where Mother lived, and I said nothing. Why? Because I was merely one and the others were my peers.
I stayed in school during the days when the blacks arose and supported by many more gallant than I, they re-wrote our history. But the whole truth is, many are still involved in the wars.
That was made evident when someone made a video of college students singing their songs on a bus headed for a party.
It clearly personified the days in which we live. There were innocents on that bus, but they will pay a price that far exceeds the costs of just "being" there. The name plates on the fraternity house have been removed, but the stigma will linger for years. The national fraternity will survive as the truth is, they stand for excellence in every aspect of college life except for the key words, acceptance of others. That problem is not just the problem of that great university in a great State. It exists every where in our great nation.
It exists on the streets where I live, where you live and others live. Just beyond our borders, there are millions hoping for, indeed praying for, an opportunity to live here and many of them are "colored".
That is not the problem, we have invited and enjoyed the lives of those who have fled from the turmoil in their native lands. There have been a few problems, but they been few and far between.
The problem is, and I waited patiently for that panel to get to it, only to be disappointed. I doubt that in the years I have left, I will hear the conversations that needs to address our real problem.
I know about it as when I was just a youngster. along with the sons of a neighboring farmer, we acted to burn down an old abandoned bar. We didn't mean to, of course, but we ran and hid and the other boys' father was quick to get them to admit their guilt. No one ever mentioned the possibility that I was involved. If they did, I don't recall. My play mates never mentioned it. I have never forgotten my part. I lived with that guilt for years and yes, many years. Had it not been by the grace extended by my Lord, Jesus Christ, years ago, it would still be eating me alive.
Because I know personally, how guilt can extend beyond one generation, as mine did, so the guilt of our nation in not dealing with the "black" problem centuries ago, still eats the life out of of those who cannot recall the guilt of those who went before us. Am I responsible, this white boy who became a mam before I even knew of this problem? Yes, I believe I am. Certainly I have been remiss in not sharing what I have just revealed. We can be healed of that guilt, but the fact is, the only way we will ever recover from it will come in that day when all of those who harbor - make room for it, stop setting the stage for youngsters who claim they did not understand, only because their parents did not understand. .We are a great nation, we will become a great people, if and when we hear what I heard, nearly forty years ago, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand,"