Alive & Well

The year is 2009. At least that is what the calendar tells us, but sometimes there are events that take place in this world that make you wonder whether its 1969 … or 1889.

Two recent events come to mind. The first happened across the state, outside Philadelphia, where a group of African-American children say they suffered the ultimate humilaition. They were campers – paid campers – at this private swim club. However, when the 65 kids dove in, they say they faced derogatory comments from the people already there … and some parents pulled their kids out of the water.

The group, Creative Steps, was later told their swimming privileges were being rescinded and their $2000 fee for the summer was being returned. The club president later told a Philadelphia TV station that club member complained because the children “fundamentally changed the atmosphere” at the pool, but it had nothing to do with race. They say the isssue is overcrowding and lack of facilities. 

The club board has since said the any chares racism is completely untrue.

Obviouisly, I would be more sensitive to cases of racial discrimination, but we should all be outraged that this is even going on. There really is no defense for the members of the swim club and their alleged behavior. The least they could do is come to sort of comprimise on pool use if “overcrowding” is the issue. Racism or not,  to put children in the middle of this is the worst form of child abuse I can imagine.

However, racism need actually take place for it to hurt and anger. A recent story on ABC left me wondering if we had made any progress at all. The title is “Will Michael Jackson’s ‘White Kids’ Get Along in a Black Family?”. The gist of the story is that Jackson’s three young children – Paris, Michael and Blanket – must not only deal with the loss of their father but must adjust to life with a black family, should a Jackson family member end up with custody.

Not to oversimplify, but this article turned the children plight into a story of trans-racial adoption and the difficulty for the children to adjust with their lighter skin to the darker-skinned members of their family.

Are you serious?

Does anyone realize that these kids are not suddenly being thrust into an African-American family and culture? Janet Jackson has been their aunt since the day they were born and its quite obvious that these children know the rest of the family and what they look like. Anyway, does anybody remember that Michael Jackson ( appearance aside ) is an African-American?

Its an insulting theory to the children and to the Jackson family. Its also an insult to African-Americans when you say that you wonder how “white kids” will adjust and yet no one is ever concerned with a white family adopts a child of a minority group. It reminds me of the comment I heard when Sharon and I first started dating. She is Serbian but her appearance is Caucasian. Someone asked me “what do her parents think?”. Never was she asked what do my parent think.

Race has always been that issue that we – as a country – have never been able to deal with and always walked around with kid gloves. Unlike the comments of Attorney General Eric Holder, I do not think we are “A nation of cowards” when it comes to race. We just have a subject that is not easy to break down, filled with a strange and painful history and one that has no easy answers.

All that being said, there are examples of stupidity in the racial discourse of this country. These are two clear examples.

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