Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Warmth of Other Suns 

I was in Wangfujing today, so I stopped by the Foreign Languages Bookstore. I have not been in that place more than a couple times since I have come to China. I guess it's because I have not had that much trouble getting books at other places. And now I get lots of books through Google Books that I don't have to pay for, so there is less and less need. But I figured it couldn't hurt to just stop in and see what they had.

I probably shouldn't have bought this book--I'm definitely not short of stuff to read. But I was intrigued by the subject. It concerns the mass migration of Blacks from the South to find a better life in other places. I read The Underground Railroad when I was in elementary school, and that book was very enlightening. But it seemed somewhat remote, because I grew up in Japan, where whites were minorities. But we were not mistreated because of it. After we moved to the States when I was thirteen, I read Black Like Me, and this alerted me to a problem I had not well understood before that, I guess because I spent most of my childhood in Japan. I lived in Williston, North Dakota for four years as a child, but there aren't that many Blacks in that part of the country. I only remember one black kid from my younger years in that town. I do remember Mom telling us that we must never say the word, "nigger." She said we were supposed to call them "colored people." When I was in junior high in the late sixties in Minnesota, I was part of a discussion competition. One of the kids in our group, a bookish kid who was always pontificating about something or the other, said one day, "you know, actually they prefer to be called 'Blacks' now." The other kids ridiculed him, "No they don't! Would you like it if we called you 'whitey?'" But the kid was right.

After Obama was elected four years ago, much was made about him being the first Black president. Nonsense. The whole thing was a complete fraud. Obama does not have anyone in his family who is even remotely connected with Black America. His father was from Kenya. Obama is not descended from Black America, he is descended from white America. Some day there will be an American black guy who becomes president. But probably not anytime soon. Obama is black and he happens to be an American citizen. But he is not a Black American. Obama is an Irish-American politician just like Reagan, Clinton, Tip O'Neil, the Kennedy's, and a whole host of others. If you want to know the truth, the first "Black president" was LBJ. He was the one who pushed through the civil rights legislation of the sixties. Martin Luther King got all the attention. But Martin Luther King would have been nothing more than a blip on the radar of history if anyone else had been president. And he thanked LBJ by castigating him for the Vietnam War! I have never been much of a fan of MLK. But I did like Malcom X. Martin Luther King taught that racism was a result of ignorance, and that the solution lay in education. But Malcom X believed that racism was evil. To be sure, Malcom X was a little extreme. He was a Black Muslim. The Black Muslims were led by Elijah Muhammad, who taught that the White man was descended from Satan. I read The Autobiography of Malcom X during the years I was driving over the road. The book wasn't actually penned by Malcom X. It was written by Alex Haley, the same guy who wrote Roots. Malcom X was probably too crazy to actually sit down and write a book. But reading him was refreshing, because Jesse (I may be well dressed but I'm still oppressed) Jackson was on the scene then, and I always found him to be quite annoying. He always talked about racism, but in fact, racism was his bread and butter, and to make a good living he had to stir it up as much as he could. If racism came to a grinding halt today, Jesse Jackson would have to go out tomorrow and get a job like everyone else.

Not to say that there isn't racism in America. But true racists stand out. They are there, though. I was talking to a driver from Idaho once, and we got into the subject of race. I said, "If you hear a white boy from the old south bad-mouthing Blacks, you can be pretty sure he is doing it because he knows that the average Black man is a good bit more intelligent than he is." Well, this guy's response was immediate. He lived in Idaho, but he was born and raised in Alabama, and he definitely did not like my analysis. But I stand by it. Racism is evil, but I detest all of it--both the southern white boy kind and the Jesse Jackson kind.

This book is called The Warmth of Other Suns. As I mentioned, it concerns the "great migration." I am curious to see if this is anything significantly different from the migration that was a natural part of the depression era. I'll let you know what I find out.

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