Friday, November 27, 2009

A Mavericky Thanksgiving Day Message

A few days ago I asked my father if he shared my growing suspicion that my generation (those of us born after World War II) had really made a mess of things once we got in charge. My father was born in 1923, was 6 years old when the stock market crashed, grew up during the Great Depression and had just started college when the United States declared war on Japan. People of his generation were running the country until around 1992 when Bill Clinton was elected President. My impression was that life had been steadily getting better for most Americans all during the period his generation was in charge and that trend had started to reverse right around the time my generation took over. Was that, I asked him, how he saw it.

No, he said. What really impressed him about the last 20 years was the progress that had been made in regard to race. His generation, he felt, had been an impediment to progress in many ways in racial issues and apparently had to pass from the scene before fundamental progress could be made toward a truly color-blind society.

So that will be my Thanksgiving Day message. I am not sure where our country is going but we are going there more united, at least in terms of race, gender and sexual orientation, than we ever have been before, and for that we should give thanks.


Anonymous said...

Teaching in a public school for 35 years has given me a similar perspective on improved gender and race. For more than half of my career, I found that girls who attempted to be assertive were socially ostracized by both the boys and the girls in my 6th grade classroom. The social leader in the class was always a boy. The one or two middle-class black students in the class sometimes found limited popularity for their sports or academic abilities but were never in the popular social mix (parties and sleepovers). That changed in the late 1990, perhaps best illustrated by Mia Hamm, the soccer star. At the high school I noticed that the homecoming queen was often the captain of one of the school’s sports teams. And in my sixth grade classroom, the class leader could be a girl. Indeed, during the past ten years the social leader in my class has been a girl more years than not. And black students can now enjoy more popularity, although they still have a ways to go before they approach anything close to equal opportunity.

I credit the popular culture of the media (TV shows, commercials, movies, and billboards) for much of the leadership in this cultural change. Gay rights has especially benefited from TV shows and movies. Dan in Rockford, IL

Tacky said...

I agree with Dan that the media has contributed to changing the images we see on TV, newspapers, magazines, etc. This change has been brought about as the buying power increased for minorities. Manufacturers began directing some of their advertising to this "new market." Thanks to the civil rights movement and people like Rev. Jesse Jackson and others who demanded changes in how the media portrayed minorities, or omitted them completely in newspapers, TV, movies, etc.
This is the first Thanksgiving with a "Black" President. Yes, your father is right about our generation: we helped bring about a change. The older generation though still wields a lot of power ( in Congress--mostly graying men)and influence, so we may have to wait for future generations to really end wars as they know and love it.