Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 8:00 pm

“Unlearning racism”

Filed under: Y'all go read this — Lex @ 8:00 pm

Everyone has to follow his/her own path to racial reconciliation. A few of us, I think, may, by the grace of God, already be there. Some of us haven’t started. Some of us have and, lucky ones, know exactly where we’re going. And many of us have started and, while having no idea which direction to choose, keep faith that the path is there, that we will find it and that the journey will be worth the candle.

My longtime friend and colleague Susan Ladd, in a speech adapted from her master’s thesis, discussed her own path recently at the Diversity Forum Breakfast, which was sponsored by The HR Group Inc. and the News & Record:

There was a time when I was in love with all things Southern. When I really believed that “Gone With the Wind” was a wistful epic of a more fine and genteel era swept away by the dirty Yankees. I think I may actually have believed the unstated premise of “Gone With Wind” — that the end of slavery actually made things worse for black people, severing them from what had been a benevolent patriarchy.

There was nothing romantic or genteel about the racial landscape of my childhood. Blacks and whites lived in two separate worlds, and the worst thing you could call somebody was a nigger-lover.

These were fighting words, an insult of character that surpassed all other character flaws. It was often spat in anger, like a hard slap. Or it was said in a sneer of loathing by people who considered themselves self-respecting Southerners. Of course, it wasn’t really about love. Just showing kindness to a black person was enough to earn that designation in those days. Actually loving one was unthinkable.

We have come far. We have far to go. God willing, we will get there, all of us, together, free at last.

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