But in a way we're all students, aren't we? Most of us want our lives to get better, and realize if it gets better for our neighbor it will, by osmosis, get better for us too. Some, as has been made very, very obvious in the last week, profit from racial tension and are perfectly happy with racial discord.
Some have been profiting from it all their lives.
When Obama was elected President, one of the few things that gave me a glimmer of hope about the future was his promise to "be a uniter".
Well he sure dropped the ball during the clutch play, didn't he?!
Two things happened to me almost simultaneously several years back...
I got a telephone call from a prospective helicopter student. From the outset of the call it was obvious the guy was a black man... cadence, accent, word usage, sentence structure... all indicated "I'm a black man".
Okay, I have no problem with that... his money was green and he wanted to share it with me. He sounded like an intelligent dude. Let's go flying...
We did, and he was... black, and intelligent.
Almost the same night I happened upon a British movie titled "Secrets and Lies". It portrays a black English woman who knows she is adopted and is searching for her birth mother.
This is a wonderful movie, well written, directed, and acted, and I recommend it to you. But one thing struck me about it... at their first meeting, after several telephone conversations, the woman's birth mother is surprised that the daughter is Black...
Apparently in Great Britain, Blacks don't have their own "talk". (This was verified by my lead pilot, who was born and raised in Bristol, England.)
So what's the advantage of "Black English" here in the U.S.?
Some Blacks in the U.S. make fun of others for "talking White".
Bill Cosby, trying to point out how counterproductive this is for job seekers, has been called an "Uncle Tom".
Blacks want to maintain a "Black culture", and that's fine...
It's been a long, ugly road for Blacks to reach this point in history, where an African-American can be elected to the highest office in the land. Black folks have a right to be proud.
But even the term "African-American" is a divider, isn't it?
As a White man I bristle at some things:
The Congressional Black Caucus,
Black Entertainment Television,
Miss "Black America",
The National Association of Black Journalists,
The Urban League,
The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives...
And on and on and on.
Let's talk about true equality here...
Where are the similar "White" organizations?
...Oh, I see... that would be RACIST, wouldn't it? Then why aren't these Black organizations racist?
My simple answer? In my opinion they are, and yet we tolerate,
no... cultivate them.
Are you familiar with Brown Vs. The Board of Education?
(I took just enough Law in college to be dangerous.)
In that decision, the Supremes decided that "Separate", by definition, meant "Unequal".
So by separating themselves with all these "Black" organizations...
Separating themselves even by their easily identifiable manner of speaking, for whatever reason, many Blacks seem to prefer this inequality.
And now comes Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr...
A man who, as a Harvard Professor, has reached a pinnacle few of us can hope to achieve, and he's claiming discrimination because of color. Horribly, when Barack Obama had a chance to make this a "Teachable moment" he failed miserably, because his entire life had been devoted to fortifying the "separateness" of Blacks by reinforcing organizations like those listed above.
Here's my open letter to the man who got the most votes for POTUS in the last election:
You now have the chance to truly lead.
You can, as you promised, be a "uniter". You have a moment in history and a pulpit from which to give us the "Change" you promised. You now can make a bigger impact on our society than even the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..
Let's move away from the racial profiteering and divisiveness of the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
Let's move away from "Separate but equal".
Because as an Attorney you know better than most...
Separate, by definition, is NOT equal.
Please, don't waste this moment.
UPDATE: 1738 hours-
Fellow Harvard Professor Ruth R. Wisse, in "An open letter to Henry Louis Gates" asks the Professor what advantage he thought he'd gain by "talking black".