If you can't say something nice, at least make it funny!

Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Monday, January 17

The Truth. According to TinfoilMagnolia

Truthfully? The first time I remember hearing a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech? It was in this video:

It has a good beat, you can totally dance to it. Right? In 1986 a group called OMD released an album, The Pacific Age, containing the song which was an instrumental written around this speech given by Dr. King the night before his assassination. Pretty prophetic to someone like me who reads something into everything.

Truthfully? I must have learned about Dr. King in school, wouldn't you think? And yet I don't remember anything about him, I mean I knew WHO he was but I  didn't know a lot about the speeches he made. Once I found out that it was him, I immediately went to the library. (yes kiddies, this was 1986/87 and there were no *gasp* iPhones or internet back then) I did a lot of research on Dr. King and read as many of his speeches as I could find. Back then when something caught my interest it became a temporary obsession. Like much like the obsessions I later had with Kennedy, Charles Manson, and (god help me) Jim Morrison. I was blown away by his message and had a hard time understanding why he was so controversial. I was born in 1967 so I didn't see much of the civil rights struggle. By the early 70's it was mainly about women's liberation and gay rights and the like.

Truthfully? I have always struggled with the concept of equality in this country. I just don't understand why it is so hard just to treat everyone the same. Prejudice, while understandable, (we all have a notion of what someone will be based on how they look don't we?) doesn't make sense to me when it is elevated to the level of racism. I know the hatred comes from fear. Logically. But I can't imagine beating someone to death over their skin color or denying them the right to vote or sit at a table in the same restaurant as me.

Truthfully? I don't know how I grew up to have the attitudes that I do. I was raised by parents who were, and still are, very prejudiced. The only thing I can point to early in my life was a film and experiment in which we had to take part. (in typical 70's fashion) I guess I was in 3rd or 4th grade and they did that old blue/brown eyes segregation thing. Do ya'll remember that? I of course had brown eyes and got treated like crap. It sucked. I still remember how it sucked. Even after we were told what was going on and watched the film explaining it, my feelings were still hurt from being deemed "stupid" and "unworthy". My best friend at the time was a girl who was African American and I just couldn't imagine why I shouldn't be friends with her or why she would ever be treated that way.

Truthfully? My parents are 76 and 83 and they still use the "n" word. They still use all kinds of racial names that I would never in a million years let go through my mind, much less out into the world. They still hold firm to the argument that "it's how things were back then". In fact, I got into a huge disagreement with my brother over this a couple of years ago when he made a nasty comment about our president that I find utterly full of hate. We had a huge argument which ended with me basically telling him that "if" there is indeed a heaven, as he proclaims to believe, he is going to be 10 kinds of disappointed to see people of every race, color and religion inside those mythical pearly gates. Probably wine, too. And music, definitely music. None of which he or my parents feel fit in with their religious beliefs. Why else did his "god" in whom he proclaims to believe put them here if it was only to suffer torture and ridicule. If one of us is made in his image, so must we all be. Right?

Truthfully? This is one of the three main reasons I made the CHOICE to walk away from organized religion 12 years ago. I don't understand the intersection of christianity and racial inequality. At all. I was taught in church to "love one another". But then see people who look like me saying such horrible things to people of other races. We are taught to treat well the least of us, as if he were jesus. But then we hear such vile, vitriolic comments coming from folks who consider themselves christians. In our town, the churches still remain segregated. The "white" church of christ and the "black" church of christ. I remember growing up and the murmuring that went through the building if a black person walked through the doors for a church service. Don't get me wrong, I don't hold christians responsible, nor do I hold them to a higher standard. It is up to all of us to learn to live together or none of us will achieve peace.

Truthfully? I really do try to treat everyone the same. I object to using the color of their skin or their race as an identifying quality. I hate it when people have to say "my black friend" or "the black waitress". Why can't it be "my friend from design class" or "The waitress in the blue top."? Many times I have questioned myself about whether or not I am being overly sensitive. Is it right to try not to see color? Is it better just to be OK with being divided this way? Because I was always taught that America was a melting pot, not a salad bowl, and we were supposed to all co-exist. I got into a huge argument with a "friend" of mine in Pennsylvania a couple of years ago over this very thing. She was making what I considered to be racist remarks. She said I was overly sensitive to the issue because of my southern background. I said, well if I am what's wrong with that, really? I mean, really. In anything else in life don't we say to err on the side of caution?

Months earlier, when Obama was elected, she texted a racial joke to my husband's phone. The same Catholic friend who admonished myself and others for not going to church or believing in heaven and that if we didn't we'd "get the chance to see it firsthand" someday. Her defense for these remarks, other than saying I am not a racist over and over? She received an award during her days in the military for promoting equality. Now, I am sure it's just me but I don't think the US Military is a yardstick of acceptance and equality in this country. Her other defense? Well, they brought it upon themselves. It was Africans who sold their own people into slavery. Needless to say I just stared at her with my mouth gaping open.

She maintained that defeating racism isn't about not seeing color. I beg to disagree. But what do you think? Am I wrong? I strongly believe it isn't just a black and white thing either. Some of the most horrifyingly racist hate speech I have ever been subjected to firsthand occurred when I was dating a guy of Korean descent. I never, ever told him of the things that were whispered to me when we were out in public. The tamest of which was that I could surely "find a real man, an American man, a white man" as pretty as I was. My stomach still churns thinking of all the horrible things that people thought was OK to tell me because I looked like them and he didn't. The sad thing about it was that this guy I was dating? He was a 3rd generation American and his father was a American veteran. It isn't just a black and white thing.

I have a friend who was burned to death in his home because of sexual orientation. I have a friend who I saw treated like a second class citizen because of her learning issues. I have a friend who is talked to and treated like a servant by her husband because it is how he believes their roles should be. I have a friend who has been passed over for a management position time and despite her being perfectly qualified. I have a friend who has obtained a coaching position at a major university and sitting in the crowd at a game I hear him compared to the guy selling cokes in the stands, who is also African American. I have a friend who has been mistaken for a gardener while mowing his own yard in a very nice subdivision. I myself have been subjected to jokes and images about and relating to my weight. It isn't just about race. It is about equality. And treating people with basic respect.

So this morning I attended a breakfast here in our small southern town to celebrate MLK Day. I was asked to attend so that I could write a story for the local paper. I was warned by a friend that I might be one of a half-dozen "white" people there. When I walked in I noted the "white" people, save one or two, clustered together at one table. I had hoped this wouldn't be the case. Determined not to fall into the patterns we all do, being comfortable and sticking with those who look like us, I sat across the room at a table with three of the nicest women you'd hope to meet. I had a wonderful chat with them about jewelry and children and the weather and all the things I would talk about with my own friends. I sat with them and wondered, without asking, what all they had seen or encountered in their lifetime. I came home to write my story covering the event.

But there's just this nagging in my head. Still, there are no answers. Has there been change? Yes, I think there has been. Amazing change. Is it enough? Not by a longshot. The sad thing is that you can't regulate or legislate changes to people's attitudes and opinions. Do we have a long way to go? Absolutely. But I have hope that even though not everyone of my generation can be so accepting, maybe the next generation can. Maybe they can ignore race, and religion, and all those other things upon which we judge people. If only we will let them.

Peace be with us all. And grace upon us fall.


  1. You know what an accelerant is? You get those industrual glues for carpet and they give you a tube of epoxy to add to it and suddenly you can attach a car to an airplane because of the accelerating agent? That's what Martin Luther King Jr. was. I believe society evolves. Some things, like gay marriage, race relations, are slower evolving than others.

    My daughters are so much more tolerant than I was at their ages. I carried the same prejudices my parents and grandparents did because I was ignorant. My kids don;t have that dilemma.

    In 50 years gay marriage will be commonplave and legal. Race relations will be better because racial integration through marriage and friendships will make the stupidty of the 20th century seem...well....stupid.

    I think we've come a long way, because I see it in my children.

  2. I feel that the fact that we are aware of inequality shows that we have come a long way.

    I feel that writing about inequality without suffering repercutions shows that we have come a long way.

    That inequality still needs to be addressed on a daily basis shows we still have a long way to go.

  3. Cake, great perspective as always, thanks. As a left-brained type I tend to have issues with seeing the big big picture.

    Christina, you have said in three lines what I rambled on about for several paragraphs. Thanks for your very succinct comments.