Friday, August 1, 2008

Integration 2008

Thank Beamish for this blog.

Having been sent a video link the other date about sex without condoms (how ridiculous a thought, honestly)....I started to peruse NPR's website. Those of you who may not know, will soon find out through confession that I'm not overly fond of NPR, if only for the fact that when I'm driving in the car I tend to be screaming too much or singing beautifully. I tend to get my news from other sources. That, however, is besides the point.

Surprise, surprise when I actually read that a Mississippi school held their first inter-racial prom in 2008. OMG! 2008, 2008, 2008. I mean seriously. It's been over a hundred year since the Civil War and over 40 years since the Civil Rights Movement. I thought that least we could have achieved since then is integration. Apparently, I was wrong.

Read the above link for more on the prom.

(I must also add at this point, that this blog is heavily influenced by my recent viewings of The Great Debaters and my absorption in all things Toni Morrison and this new found book (thanks Hall) by Octavia Butler, Kindred.) (I'm also sort of really upset that I haven't been able to watch more of this "Black in America" stuff on CNN. I think it's really very fascinating and its just got my blood boiling.)

So, it has to go on record that I am the most liberal person and my family and that I was particular shunned from most family gatherings because I would not admit that white people are better than black people...okay, so it didn't go down like that, but I felt that it did. Everyone in my family is obsessed with race. Sure, we live in the South, but I think it's time to move past that. I was recently in Jersey visiting a friends, and rest assured, there are racists in the North. But really, what is a school holding their first integrated prom in 2008.

The weirdest thing about the blog was how it nonchalantly dropped in that Morgan Freeman was a local from this Mississippi town who wanted to sponsor an integrated prom for years without any success. Wow! If Morgan Freeman wanted to have sponsored Ehret's prom, we would not only have accepted, we would have demanded he be there to get down with us. As Karen says speaking for Morgan Freeman, "I gotta bad feeling about this."

So all of this has my thinking about a lot of things. Like when Stave and I were at the conference in Louisville and one of our (yes, I guess I'm a professional now that I've started teaching) colleagues was talking about post-race issues at Emory. How students actually that race was a moot point when discussing African-American literature of the 20th century. Wow! Really. And then there is this kick ass CFP that Kate had me working on for TSWL about how can we conceive of race beyond nation or family. I mean mind was blown away. How can you think of race that way? And then of course, there was that really awesome dynamic conversation I had with Courtney about African-American inspirational sports dramas.

I just think it's really sad that at this point in time we are still struggling with integrations when what we should we really be struggling with is equality. I find it horrible that races can't even interact together in some places because of ingrained socio-economic hegemonies and because of this weird propagandist mis-education of American youths and individuals. Race is one of the founding principles of our country (according to Dr. Means). If it wasn't for different races, America wouldn't be the same. Well, to be honest, sometimes I wish America wasn't the same. Why do we (here insert Americans, I include myself here) have to hate one another so much? I really do wish sometimes that America could be a better place, and I think to myself sometimes that it can be if we makes steps to make changes.

The recent Robert Redford movie ripped to shreds because of its dealings with this war we are at has this really interesting message embedded within a class room scene. Perhaps a little too overly didactic, the students, Derek Luke and Michael Pena, propose that there is one way American can becomes better, which is start practicing what we preach and start living in the other's shoes to see what we can do to actually improve the quality and equality of life. For instance, they claim that instead of having a junior and senior year of high school, students should be forced to live in one of the 500 poorest neighborhood in America, or to work from Green Peace in foreign countries. Could you imagine if students actually had to do that? I wonder how many would resent it, but I also wonder how many people would be touched by a possible epiphany they would have when they realize that the systems are in place to keep people down. To keep people broken.

A work colleague just mentioned to be in passing the other day that what made the original Star Trek show rather progressive was the writing not the technology or shooting of the show. She mentioned that their Earth was a place where there was no hunger, there was no war, and there was no racial separation. Maybe it really will take us another 1,000 years before that happens. But I sure hope it doesn't.

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