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Men to Fathers: Racism…What We’ve Learned

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By Archie Wortham

“My father hated people who preached about morality. We’re all good when it suits us…that doesn’t count. It’s when you want so badly to do something wrong—when you’re about to make a fortune from a dishonest deal…or lie to get yourself out of terrible trouble—that’s when you need rules. Your integrity is like a sword…you shouldn’t wave it until you’re about to put it to the test,” Sister Caris, a nun, says on page 545 of Ken Follett’s book ‘World Without End’ when confronted with why would she give someone starving the last of her food.

Is that the situation we’re facing now? Is America asking us to get up off our behinds to help each other? Is it criminal to help our fellowman by taking from Peter to pay Paul? Is the racial divide broadening or are we just being lead to believe that as long as we are doing well, we don’t have to worry about those who are not, particularly if it doesn’t take any bread off our table? I can’t be sure.

But one thing for sure, giving handouts is not the same as giving a hand up. Empowering others is not the same as enabling them. And we must be weary of change for change sake, as opposed to programs that will in fact effect change, and the people who might want to resist that. Some of us have worked hard to get ahead, and there is nothing wrong with giving others the knowledge to do the same, but be cognizant that there are
many who don’t want minorities, whether they are men, women, black or white to succeed if it will affect their status. Each of us deserve to be free, but sometimes those that get freed deny others the same rights or chances.

Consider what someone sent me about a scene that supposedly happened on a British Airways flight between Johannesburg and London.

A well-off white South African woman, about 50 years old, was seated next to a Black man. Obviously disturbed by this, she called the air Hostess. “Madam, what is the matter,” the Hostess asked. “You obviously do not see it then?” she responded. “‘You placed me next to a Black man. I can’t possibly sit next to this disgusting human. Give me an alternative seat.’

“Please calm down Madam.” the stewardess relied. “The flight is very full today, but I’ll tell you what I’ll do-I’ll go and check to see if we have any seats available in club or first class.” The woman cocks a snooty look at the black man beside her (not to mention many of the surrounding passengers). A few minutes later the stewardess returned with the news, which she delivers to the lady, who cannot help but look at the people around her with a smug and self satisfied grin: “Madam, unfortunately, as I suspected, economy is full. I’ve
spoken to the cabin services director, and club is also full. However, we do have one seat in first class.”

Before the lady has a chance to answer, the stewardess continues … “It is most extraordinary to make this kind of upgrade, however, and I have had to get special permission from the captain. But, given the
circumstances, the captain felt that it was outrageous that someone be forced to sit next to such an obnoxious person.” With which, she turned to the black man sitting next to the woman, and said: “So if you’d like to get your things, sir, I have your seat ready for you…” At which point, apparently the surrounding passengers stood and gave a standing ovation while the black guy walks up to the front of the plane.

What’s important here is that… people will forget what you said…people will forget what you did….but people will never forget how you made them feel. I’ll admit the veracity of this story has not been proven, but it still tells us that though some of us may have earned the right to a first-class ticket, it sometimes takes others to be strong enough to stand up, be counted and support the fact we’ve earned it.

Some of you may see yourself as the stewardess. Some may see you as the young man. Others may even identify with the South African lady as you prejudge someone of a different race. But how many of you realized that you will sit comfortably in your seat and not exchange places with the lady or the young man who was insulted. We all have an opportunity to earn a first-class ticket, but some of us either won’t use it, or once we have it, we don’t want to share it with anyone we think doesn’t deserve it. We do good when it suits us,
unlike what former Congressman J. C. Watts tells us, “Character is doing the right thing when no one is looking.”

Well the whole world has been looking at what’s going on in America. Way before the guard changed in the White House, America has been engaged in trying to cope with incestuous relationships among it’s politicians, media, pop culture and Hollywood where no one was being held accountable for the images we have been flooding the mainstream audiences. Men are emasculated and effete, ignorant and immoral from Raymond Baron to Bill Clinton. Women are iconic saviors [even in James Bond movies] from Nancy Pelosi to Hillary. The white knights saving the damsels in distress are damsels themselves in pants suit. The picture has to change.

The fulcrum of change begins not with hope, but an admission that something is not right in our capitols around the country if we cannot see the writing in the chalk boards: boys are failing in school; men no longer aspire to teach in schools; and prisons are becoming the only ivy league schools many of our young men of color are granted admission. And many feel like the South African, these men don’t deserve it any better.

We need to fix this. Our integrity, no longer the sword of our forefathers, has become dull and blunt so many of us are afraid to wave it let alone use it. Pick up the gauntlet regardless of the political correctness that has caused so much ED in our country we have lost all understanding of what it’s like to have men in the classroom, in college, or even in the home. That’s the bailout this country need: a renaissance of educated men.

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