We take what we want from situations.
I grew up thinking the problem with segregation was the separation. Similarly, I thought the problem with “separate but equal” was the part about separation.
I now know better, I think.
I’d never participated in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony until I moved to the South. Honestly – and call it what you will – I’d never done anything to honor black history.
Mainly because that kind of event was hard to find there.
I don’t recall black people back home being too preoccupied with it. Black people in western New York and, I suspect, a lot of other areas “up there,” seem more interested in the “separate” part of doctrines.
The struggle back home seems to revolve around creating one culture – American culture – and allowing everyone of all different backgrounds to embrace it.
Not down south.
According to black leaders here, you’re disrespecting the work of many when you don’t – in my opinion – rehash struggles of the past several times per year.
For a time Monday, I walked alongside a local black leader in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march. Throughout the course of our conversation, he asked me what ethnicity I was. I told him mostly German.
“See? What we’re doing here is no different than you remembering where you’re from,” he told me.
No disrespect to Germany, but I could give a crap about the place. Been there for two hours once to change planes during a flight to Italy – and I definitely don’t care much for German food. I’m an American.
So what they were doing on Monday is different.
The prevalence of self-imposed segregation became stronger during a speech following the march. A black preacher talked about another city having community centers apiece for its Jewish, black and Chinese neighborhoods. He applauded the premise that I found disturbing.
Another speaker talked about how leaders need to make sure tax dollars are working for their neighborhoods, which, by then, I knew was the “black” neighborhoods. I know they exist, but shouldn’t meshing all neighborhoods of a city together be the goal?
“Remember the struggle.” That’s what I hear every time I attend an event that celebrates black history.
Yeah? And then what?
I mean – what are you supposed to do after you rehash the past? Grow? If so, how do you do that while remembering “the struggle?”
Sounds tasteless, but it’s an effective example: Do Jews force themselves to relive the Holocaust every year?
No. They don’t. They pay homage. They don’t relive it.
Yet, for the most part, Jewish people get along with Germans today. They’ve moved on since the Nazi regime, probably because they didn’t hold the entire race responsible for the injustice of the early 20th century.
And they were rounded up on trains, many forced to work in prison camps before getting their heads shaved and being wrangled into public showers naked, where they were gassed to death. Then they were buried in mass graves in a country that, for a long time, refused to acknowledge it had ever happened.
Remember the struggle?
Seems to me it’d be better to remember what the struggle was for, and continue to work toward it.

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