It was another lazy day for us. We got up and did not get on the road into the city until noon. We missed the Pride Day Parade but did see folks who had gone proudly wearing their rainbow colored garb. In fact a couple of black youth (a boy and a girl) passed by me while I was waiting for Connie who was inside the REI on Halsted picking up some much needed spare inner tubes while I stood guard over the bikes. They were both dressed as if they had attended the parade and were reminiscing about the experience.
My first acquaintance with the event was several decades ago when the father of my families next-door neighbor had died as was cremated. He was having a memorial service just blocks from the parade. The traffic was horrid. He was an interesting man. He and his wife had come to America from Japan and had been interned at Manzanar, CA during the war.
I could not understand the fact that like African-Americans there were other non-whites who had suffered such things. Having been in the South and experiencing segregation in its rawest forms in of all places Birmingham, AL I could understand what such treatment could do to people. I after all had been born to parents who had migrated up from the South (Birmingham, AL and Winn, AK) and both related their horrifying experiences. My father had seen at least one lynching and knew firsthand the terror of those times. But for me the defining moment was standing at the casket of the son of one of our church members when I was about 6 or 8 years old. That young boy was Emmett Till.
I learned from that very moment that there was a vast difference between what you could say and do if you were black rather than white. And that fact is reinforced for me this very weekend when I read some of the musings of ChainLink members online. Emmett Till was supposed killed for sassing a white woman while in the corner store in the area in Mississippi where his grandfather lived. He had grown up in Chicago and did not quite understand the seriousness of his actions. He found out later that evening when two men came to his grandfathers home and kidnapped, tortured, mutilated and killed home before dumping his body in the local river.
Now fast forward to 2012 where a thread titled “If mobs weren’t bad enough – someone set the LFP on fire yesterday” begins with someone decrying what they assume was vandalism by what one respondent terms “urban youth”. Eventually the conversation turns to the question of whether the new art installation at the 31st Street Harbor survived the fire. A thread member responded by saying about the trees in the installation “Definitely eyesores. Wouldn’t mind if those went up in smoke. ;)”
I know this person and that they good people. But what they perhaps does not understand is that just days before some vandals took spray paint to the Firemans Memorial less than a couple miles up the trail and defaced it. Now if this thread had been taking place between several black youth on a similar type of forum and someone in the police department had read what was said, I doubt seriously whether the site would still be up. There would have been a move afoot to pull the plug on site for inciting destruction of property. So you bet I am over sensitive to this kind of talk.
But since I know the individuals in this conversation are all white I can suppose a few things are true:
- The reference to having the installation will not be taken as anything other than an offhand remark
- The tenor of the conversation from the original poster seemed to me like a lot of the conversations on the ChainLink to have racial overtones
- I realize that the reference to “urban youth” is evidence that I am not alone in that feeling
- ChainLink denizens are as closed minded about things such as Art as ever their parents were
A Tale of Two Couples
While we were dining at Native Foods Cafe in Wicker Park. I mulled over my comments of last night on this blog. Perhaps they were stronger than I might have wanted. But I think at their core was a sense that some of the ChainLink Community is is sore need of some fast “growing up”. There is still the tendency of the group to lapsed into unnecessarily profane conversation when its use does not help in understanding the situation. Take a look at the Search feature on ChainLink and introduce your favorite obscenity. You will usually find dozens of threads that contain it.
Having taught Junior High School I am hardly unaware that young people find their voice through obscene language. But after high school there really is not much use for the usual four letter word garage unless of course you managed to sleep through most of your classes in creative writing. What I have noticed is that some of the biggest offenders who have now begun their own blogs have cleaned up their act quite nicely. It would seem that being the one whose name is on the banner makes you a bit less susceptible to lapsing into needlessly profane twaddle. I am glad that this has happened because it shows a change in behavior towards that of a maturing adult.
Across the seating area from us tonight were two couples. On the side closest to us were a guy and gal who were married and she at least was from the East Coast. They had a very nice Bouvier de Flanders canine who was tether to the table beneath them. Sitting across from them was a Lesbian couple with their 3 year old son. It was the conversation from the Lesbian couple that struck home with me.
One of them was saying that their community in the city was ideal for raising their child. In fact their block was jam-packed with other new couples raising children and everyone understood the necessity to be mindful of one anothers toddler who might be playing out in the front yard. She seemed quite taken with the idea of being a parent and was relishing how it had changed the lives of she and her partner.
It got me to thinking that the one ingredient missing in the lives of so many of the ChainLink is that sense of responsibility that comes with being a parent. It is kind of hard to let a torrent of profanity fly from your keyboard if you are contemplating the fact that in a few all too short years your offspring are likely to be reading your words.
All those offhand remarks about allowing Art to burn because you don’t care for it could come back to haunt you. In fact I was thinking about a mural that we passed on an elementary school was on our way back to the van. It would be a shame for a young person to suddenly decide that he or she did not care for it and decide to destroy it. Then imagine the conversation you would have with the police, social worker and your child who tells you in front of the cops that you had been his inspiration to destroy the artwork! Yikes!
He could point the police to the very thread in which you had decided to air your opinions and defy you to point an accusing finger in his direction. Wow! That is enough to make you aware of everything you say. And if it is not then something is probably out of kilter in your relationship with your offspring and your awareness of your duties as a parent.
Hurry up ChainLinkers, let’s get more of you into long term relationships where your behavior has lasting consequences. Life is not really like Critical Mass Rides. It has all sorts of consequences that spring from what you say and do. Would that I could snap my fingers and have the bulk of the members of this forum suddenly wake up tomorrow morning as “urban youth”. You’ve already got the speech patterns down, all you need now is to wear your pants a little lower and try to get a job in the work-a-day world. A year or two of that sort of thing might be enough to get you to change your ways. But as long as the world gives you a free pass there is little hope that you will “see the light”.
A Sobering Set of Convictions
This was also the weekend of the convictions of both a Catholic Priest for essentially doing nothing when he knew that priests in his parish were abusing children, and a coach at Penn State who had his superiors turn a blind eye to what he was doing. Had that coach been black he would have been “out on his ear” with the first breath of scandal. But white folks give themselves the benefit of the doubt all the time. And that is what makes it difficult for anyone who is white to rat out a pedophile in their midst.
Society is used to allowing those in the ruling class to act of their fantasies anytime they wish. The same kind of cursing and profanity that makes white adults give the stink-eye to “urban youth” they tolerate amongst their own. George Zimmerman will probably get a free pass on the killing of Trayvon Martin. But we see how the very same sort of “stand your ground” approach fell into disarray for a Hispanic man who dared to try and film his remarks during a confrontation with his white neighbor.
His biggest mistake was in thinking that he had made it across the color barrier. He after all was a retired fireman and knew lots of cops. But what he did not have was white skin. And for that you need to apply at birth. He was convicted and will spend his life in jail for the very same approach that George Zimmerman took. George was smart enough to pick someone of color upon which to try out his frustrations. That is a sad but true fact.
Distance: 10.3 miles
Time: 1h 21m 31s