I've had this *wonderful* day today ... it's been rainy, yes, but I have been busy and accomplishing things all day long.
So, the burst of anger that erupted when a friend sent me an op-ed piece from the New York Times really surprised me.
Branson is not all that far from Memphis... and Memphis is definitely a little blue dot in a vast sea of red, so it would seem I should be happy to see this apparently like area in our geographic vicinity.
But, I'm not.
Memphis has a good history of being a liberal stronghold the past several decades - and even before desegregation was known as a relatively progressive city. However, don't let the facade fool you.
There are deep lines of demarcation here. And I'll bet they're in Branson, too - but the reporter was too white to see them.
You see, we are a town - and a region - of white privilege.
A man walks into a gun shop in Memphis... or Branson. If he's white... he's a gun enthusiast and a patriot. If he's black... he's someone to fear and has criminal intent.
A man drives a tricked-out SUV in Memphis... or Branson. If he's white, he's merely affluent and a representative of the American dream. If he's black, he's involved in the drug trade.
A white kid in a school uniform is walking down the street at 2:30 pm ... he's simply been dismissed from school. A black kid in a school uniform is walking down the street at 2:30 pm ... he's a truant and up to no good.
White men and women standing on a street corner holding up signs and shouting out their support for their chosen candidate in a presidential race are 'doing their part for democracy'. Black men and women standing on a street corner holding up signs and shouting out their support for their chosen candidate in a presidential race are misguided, uppity and inciting a riot.
Do you see where I am going with this?
There are deep, clear lines of demarcation in this city - and throughout the South - a vile vestige of segregation and a mindset of white privilege.
It's not just seen in the places of worship - very few black men and women go to certain Presbyterian churches, just as very few white men and women attend COGIC services, for example - but it is seen in the snap decisions people make on the street and around the town about racial difference. The above examples I gave barely scratch the surface.
However, most people are terribly, horribly apathetic about doing anything. They are attached to the television and unwilling to get out in the heat or cold and actually motivate to do something about these issues.
The only people who are forced to get out and interact on a regular basis are our public schoolkids - and you see how well that works. Constant disruptions, guns in schools, racial slurs and epithets... and kids segregate themselves in the lunchroom and between classes.
There is no culture of oneness, no hope of understanding until the larger culture changes. And I see no hope of that happening right now. Until the larger racial divides are breached within the larger society, until the ideas of white privilege - and you can't tell me that a majority of this problem ISN'T that of white privilege - are eradicated there will never be any form of true progress.
Memphis and Branson may claim to be progressive, liberal cities... but just live here a while and really, truly look. Just as in the Op-Ed piece, there is an assumption of white privilege on which that progressive liberalism is based... and you need to ask yourself if that is really progress after all.