When I was a child in the '50's, growing up in Chicago, interaction between whites and blacks was quite different than it is today. Most of the black people whites knew were cleaning people, or took care of children, or were cooks or laborers of some sort. No black people lived in our modest suburban neighborhood. When I attended high school in the '60's, out of almost 4,000 students, only a handful were black.
Today? In Minnesota suburban neighborhood - the land where 40 years ago people wondered "what my country of origin was" because I had dark brown hair (!) - people of all races are everywhere ... No matter where you go, you see people of color who are doctors and salespeople, attorneys, CEO's - you name it. Walk through Costco and you'd think you'd been dropped in the middle of the United Nations. My friends and I are all colors, all religions, from various parts of the world - and - so what? We share common interests in bridge, real estate, politics, photography, movies and more. Skin color is irrelevant.
Yet, day after day, year after year, to read the pages of the mainstream media and to listen to the bleating of too many politicians, you'd think that we were still but an inch removed from the days of Jim Crow, when blacks couldn't walk through certain neighborhoods, or ever think of going to medical school, or marrying a pleasant blonde girl. And I, for some time, am of the opinion that this constant harping on racism and venom and hate does little more than exacerbate the hate that does still exist in the minds of a few, flaming it and keeping it alive - even growing it. These people are not reporting; they are parasites, harming the lives of millions so they can sell papers or magazines or get elected.
One recent example of how this plays out occurred in Detroit. Some poor man happened to be driving in a neighborhood when a child ran in front of his car. Unable to stop in time, the child was hit - and the man immediately got out to see what he could do to help the child.
What did he receive for this honorable behavior? A beating that nearly cost him his life.
Need we remark that the victim was white, and the child and assailants black?
Personally, I think that at least part of why this occurred is because of the race industry - keeping hate alive so that those who make a living off of racism don't see it die off.
Today, I read a fine opinion piece in the New York Times about this awful event - and what it means for all of us. Please read both the column - and the comments. Then, the next time that someone starts ranting about the terrible racism in our nation today - tell him to STFU.
Sadly, the talk after the attack on Mr. Utash wasn’t about a man who stopped to do the right thing. It wasn’t about Ms. Hughes, the gun-toting angel of mercy who saw no color except the red of his blood. It wasn’t about the use of justifiable force or the value of carrying a sidearm.
Instead white people asked: Where were the old-school civil rights advocates who usually spoke out against such beatings? Where was Reverend Al? Why did it take Jesse Jackson almost two weeks to say something? Not that any of them really wanted famous civil rights leaders coming to town and marching around. What they seemed to be demanding was an admission from black leaders that blacks harbor racial hatred, too.
But leaders nationally and in Detroit stayed curiously silent. A medical fund was established for Mr. Utash, but it took more than a week to convene a vigil for him as he lay in a coma. Until that vigil not even Mike Duggan — the first elected white mayor of Detroit in 40 years — made a public appearance about it. (Though he did put out a press release and a tweet.) Nor did any City Council person that I’m aware of. And nothing from President Obama. Rage and hopelessness are no excuses here. All Detroit, whether black or white, noticed the silence.
The fact is, it’s often hard to be white in America, too, especially in a struggling city like Detroit. Just ask the Utash family.
Three black men I spoke with at the gas station a few days after the beating acknowledged this two-way street. They called Mr. Utash an honorable man for stopping to help when too many people in this city don’t. They mocked the silence of civic leaders. They wanted to know why the mayor had not come to their neighborhood. They knew the score. They’re Americans. And they also know that we can’t expect those leaders to solve this riddle of ours called race.
If you’re looking for any hope in this story, go back to the corner of Morang and Balfour on the east side of the city of Detroit, where two very good people named Steve Utash and Deborah Hughes met one very bad day.
There are plenty of Mr. Utashes out there, and Ms. Hughes. I want to read more about all these fine people who Do The Right Thing - no matter the race of who is involved.