Wednesday, March 19, 2008

a time to heal

The racial divisions that continue to plague our country need to be healed. Too often, we are afraid to discuss this difficult subject, with friends of the same race or other races.

Barack Obama's Philadelphia speech sent the right message about this thorny issue. The speech is a long one. Please take time to listen or read the text. It's worth taking that time.

I grew up with a mixed legacy of racism. I've lived in mixed neighborhoods for most of my life, having friends and neighbors of many different nationalities and races.

My Mom's parents did not believe in racism. Their Polish family and the black family next door became like one big extended family. The grandmother of that family, still alive and kicking at 91, is like another grandmother to me. I consider her daughters to be my aunts and her son to be my uncle.

My Dad's parents were the opposite, often making bigoted comments about our n***** neighbors and being less than thrilled about visiting our neighborhood. I've always taken pride in the fact that Dad did not follow in their footsteps. In his later years, he enjoyed time volunteering at a community center in a poor black neighborhood, coaching basketball and teaching crafts.

We need to keep speaking out, tearing down the walls that divide us. We have the power as a nation to choose a path to healing. Barack Obama's words can help begin a dialogue to aid in that process. It begins with many smaller dialogues.

Each of us can talk with our family members, children's teachers, neighbors, anyone. Teachers can include the idea of healing in their lessons. Ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders and teachers can promote the idea of healing. Parents and grandparents can talk with their children.

Spread a million seeds and many of them will take root. The power to heal comes from individuals choosing to help it happen.

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