Monday, January 14, 2008
Beyond race and gender~
I'm colorblind, racially speaking.
A black man told me this.
Back in the day when my ex gambled, and my youngest was not yet two, I delivered The Boston Globe before I went to school. Why I was scrambling to compensate for money he threw to the dogs-- literally-- is a story for another time.
During this exhausting, but strangely empowering year, I met men and women, each with their own story. Victims of corporate downsizing, victims of divorce, victims of gambling husbands, we were all victims of something.
We talked and joked, squeezing past each other on the crowded loading dock and jammed parking lot during the pre-dawn half hour it took to load up our cars and check the manifest for changes.
After a year, when I was able to quit and survive economically, Al gave me a goodbye hug. His comment, not the exact words but the gist, sticks with me today. He thanked me for being a friend, said my smile made a difference in his life, and that I acted like he wasn't black, only it came out nicer than I've paraphrased.
I remember blinking at him until his skin color came into focus-- a nice shade of brown-- coffee, one cream. I guess I'd just been looking into his heart via his eyes and bypassed his skin, his gender even.
He was a person, a friend. No more, no less. But that's a lot.
I don't remember what I replied, but nearly two decades later I still wonder: how did I act toward him that was different from how others acted?
Now we have a black man and a white woman running for president of a country that espouses racial and gender equality. Demands equality. Legislates it.
Both Hillary and Barack use race and gender to divide. They make it a big deal, pulling it front and center, sticking it in our faces. It is to their advantage to do so politically, I suppose. All's fair in love and war, and a political race is a battlefield. But such warfare serves no purpose beyond their own. It hurts the country they claim they want to improve.
Give us the facts, your plans, even your hearts, but cut the childish bickering over who called who a what!
We see your race, your gender. Those who care about such things need no reminder. Those of us who don't, say, "Get on with the show. Let us look into your eyes and see what really matters."
Take the high road, the road less traveled. It leads somewhere better.
Sex and race, because they are easy and visible differences, have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups . . ..~Gloria Steinem