Thursday, December 29, 2005

My Dad's Barbershop - -

- - and personal responsibility

by Larry Elder - December 29th, 2005 -

While off for the holidays, I took my 90-year-old, former Marine, Republican dad to his inner-city barbershop. Dad goes to the same barbershop that my brothers and I went to when we were growing up. Different people now own the shop, and I hadn't set foot in there in probably 35 years. Is it still, I asked Dad, the same "afro-centric," white-man-done-me-wrong, trash-talking joint? "Yes," sighed my father, who taught my brothers and me to overcome racism through hard work and personal responsibility.
Read this article and you can understand why Larry Elder is one of my favorite writers. This is an important issue that he deals with in a truly human way. I can't see anyone here in the Inner Banks saying some of the things he said, can you?

There are times when it seems that the Inner Banks is in a time capsule. Read this article and you hear the voice of a black man who has made it big, but who did not do it with government assistance. He did it by working hard. That is the American dream. It is a dream that is available to everyone. It is time it became the dream for the Inner Banks as well.

Can anyone honestly imaginge what would happen if someone said something like Larry said in this article, here in the Inner Banks? I mean not in an article where people can think about what it means in the abstract, but sitting in a real Barber's Shop? As Larry Elder said in the article, "When can we blacks get to the point where you and I can have a disagreement -- about racism, affirmative action, the War in Iraq, whatever -- without someone who thinks like me being a sell-out or an Uncle Tom? Is that at all possible? Am I asking too much?"

This is at least being talked about outside our area. We still have a 1960s desgregation case going on in Bertie County and most of the people are afraid to say, "This must end." The portion of our county that is not afraid is nevertheless still too nervous to talk about the issues in anything but the most evasive terms. Even outside the Inner Banks, no one could imagine this article being written by anyone but an African-American who would not immediately be denounced as "racist" but at least it is starting to be discussed. I will probably be called racist just for mentioning the article. It is time for this to change too.

In the world of Colin Powell, Condolezza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Barack Obama and Snoop Dogg, it is time for the Inner Banks to end its 1960s attitude towards race. We are part of America and it is the 21st Century. It is time to start talking . . . . honestly.


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