Wake-up Call?

by Steve on January 22, 2009


I took this shot in a predominantly minority/industrial section of north Birmingham yesterday (1/21/09). Now I’m not going to pretend to know what the owner of this sign actually meant to convey to the passing public but taken within the context of its location, it carries a heavy racial tone. I interpreted it to mean, “Now that we have the White House it’s time to make something of ourselves” – but I could be wrong.  Over the last 28 years here in the south I’ve met some racists – on both sides of the aisle. I find the message on this sign offensive but I can’t do anything about it because I’m white. Never mind that the sign implies a certain subset of a segment of our population has been sandbagging, if I complain about it I’m a racist. The ultimate irony here is that it has become PC for some African Americans to participate in negative racial behavior yet they remain untouchable.

A person’s race should have no bearing in today’s world. Rice, Powell, Cosby, and Tomlin are just a few examples that come to mind of individuals who have made remarkable achievements without making race a defining issue. Growing up in a suburb north of Cincinnati I never thought about race. The city of Cincinnati proper had its share of racial strife over the years but in my childhood bubble my friends included black, white, asian, Jews, Catholics, Protestants and more yet it never occurred to me to label them as such. The only distinction made was between no-good slackers and achievers (I fell somewhere in the middle). Race had nothing to do with it – you could be worthless and white just as easily as black. Some of the brightest students I graduated with would be considered minority. I never noticed. They were loved, admired, and yes even envied. As a collective group our parents worked hard and paid higher taxes so that we could benefit from a solid public education. Most of us went on to college, some entered the trades, and a few did whatever it is that slackers do. I don’t remember their names or what color their skin was.

Maybe the reality of President Obama will motivate slackers of all races and creeds to get some pants that fit and become productive citizens.  If it takes “reverse racism” to get some individuals to “step up their game” I guess I’ll tolerate it.  It’s not like I have much choice.

I’ll let Bill Cosby say what I’m not allowed to:

“Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal,” he declared. “These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids — $500 sneakers for what? And won’t spend $200 for ‘Hooked on Phonics.’ . . . “They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English,” he exclaimed. “I can’t even talk the way these people talk: ‘Why you ain’t,’ ‘Where you is’ . . . And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. . . . Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. . . . You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!”

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