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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Identity Crisis 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comMy mother worked for a time at an organization that brought culturally enriching programs to the school children of Fort Worth. She got to meet all sorts of interesting creatives and impresarios this way, and part of her job responsibility was to squire these artists to parties and events in their honor. Her favorite performer she met was a half-Japanese half Caucasian American story teller who grew up in Los Angeles. She told my mother that she had attended a culturally diverse public middle school in L.A. during the turbulent sixties, a time and place fraught with racial tension. One day all the schoolchildren were in the playground when they heard the sound of screaming and gunfire from the offices of the school building. After the deafening whine of feedback, a voice came over the loudspeaker:

"This is Bobby Seale. Your school has been liberated."

Hysteria ensued. Everyone immediately assumed that the Black Panthers had taken over the school and they would all be murdered, which is a bit of an overreaction, but funny now to look back upon. She watched in horror as her teacher, a sedate, normally dignified, middle aged woman, abandoned her pupils and tried to scale the fence in her miniskirt. All the children ran to form groups along race lines: the African-American children gathered together, the Japanese children gathered together, the white children gathered together, the Hispanic children gathered together, etc. Because she was half white and half Japanese, the artist was unsure which group to join and remained is the middle of the pandemonium, standing there like the cheese, all alone. She said that that this was the first time that she was truly aware of her unusual status, the first time she felt truly as if she didn’t know where she belonged.

Comments:
That is a very poignant story. It still irks me how we seem to divide into our "groups" to this day. I work at a University here In Hunstville - SHSU (this is jacob btw) and the mall area on campus is always subdivided along racial lines for the most part and it it bothers me.

I always thought we enrich our lives when we associate with folks who are different from us. It is really reminiscent of Jesse Jackson's patchwork quilt speech.

Unfortunately we still seem to suffer that divide whether it is a comfort zone, security blanket or just force of habit.
 
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