Thursday, March 30, 2006

Another Experience in America

Our African-American fellow citizens are confused.  I have recently had the pleasure of editing a magazine.  As you might imagine it has allowed me to come in contact with a variety of personalities and talents. As a free-lance writer it has also made it clear why many editors probably toss material sent to them without reading it or only giving it a cursory glance.  Those comments are for another column, I digress.

Several of the writers and colleagues at the magazine are African-American or Latino. The divergence of cultures is obvious, but perhaps the similarities might surprise some of those whose experience in America has been rather sheltered by comparison.  I won’t name names as it will serve no purpose.  One of my writers is a young man who is extremely skeptical of white society and whose writing is mostly a disorganized reaction to and defense against perceived slaps against blacks.  His one saving grace is his passion and his ideas.  I have tightened up his work and published it; I can’t wait to see the letters.

Another one of the team is simply writing because he loves it; this comes through very clearly.  His computer skills are limited but cut and paste is simple compared to the task of getting writing that can be published.  His approach to his subjects is fresh, and interesting, always with a black cultural slant but not obviously angry.  The difference between the two: the former is part of the entitlement culture while the latter wants his work to stand on its own.  Both are very interesting people.

The other colleague is a well known NBA and Collegiate star.  He is quite artistic, and intelligent.  His formal education appears to have been just that: a formality.  Yet he is amazingly considerate, diplomatic, and as might be expected goal-driven.  He too keeps the undercurrent of black resentment under control as he views it as unproductive.

Finally my Latino friend.  He is laid back and goes with the flow. The picture of his feelings he presents the world is false.  As he relates his experience “We Mexicans learn to do the work and keep quiet.”  This appears to the way, from this limited sample, that many if not most minority group citizens respond to the Anglo environment.  Of course this is not healthy in the long run.  Our country was made great by arguments regarding what is best for all, even though the few often won out.

I said that African-Americans are confused and the reason is that they are no longer in a life or death struggle for equality, prosperity, and respect.  Their leaders take the opposite view to maintain their own power, not an unusual position for demagogues to adopt, but because the Civil Rights wound is still relatively new, the pain has not fully dulled.  The collective memory will never fade as they get a reminder every time they look in the mirror.
Latinos are a different case, particularly those who have come from professional families or who are 2nd or 3rd generation.  These citizens still have something of an abashed mindset.  It will surprise many in Anglo land that Latinos consider them, albeit quietly, as foolish and untrustworthy.

These are just some thoughts you might consider during your next encounter with friend or acquaintance of a minority background.  They don’t like you as much as you think they do.

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