Opinion

America's continuing obsession with race | Walter Backstrom

I was talking to a kindergarten teacher recently. She showed me a textbook that they use. In that book, they talk about slavery. I'm not kidding.

When I saw the passage related to race, my blood pressure spiked, and I decided to throw away my double short latte. That is all we need: A book that makes white people feel guilty and black people feel like victims — in kindergarten.

I was under the impression that they were supposed to learn their ABC's and colors. Clearly, I was wrong.

This is what happens when the politically correct crowd, white guilt and black victimhood meet. I must tell you, this is nothing but foolishness run amok. We continue to be obsessed with race. Every disagreement that a minority has with a white person does not have to have a racial component to it. Both people could just be jerks. In this country, right below the surface is the continuing legacy about race. I realize we have a black president. But even he has to walk between two worlds. He can't be too white-acting for black people, and he can't be too black-acting for black people. All this has to be accomplished before lunch.

Several months ago, I was having lunch with a friend who happened to be white. He put down his sandwich and said, in a very serious voice, "Can I ask you a question?"

I could tell by his demeanor that it was going to be one of those "black questions."

He said, "How come black men don't smile more?"

I thought about that deep psychological question and said, "I don't have a clue."

However, it could be because of the 50 percent of black kids who drop out of school. Or it could be an unemployment rate of 30 percent. Or it could be that when a black man is not smiling, he looks dangerous. Or it could be that no one has told me any white jokes lately. I just don't know.

I thought about that ridiculous question. I determined that Hollywood and the press had a lot to do with the perception that you must be afraid of a black man if he is not smiling.

People like Barack Obama because he is black and smiles a lot. He is an example of a black man that white people can feel safe around. I haven't tried to smile anymore than I normally do because I have not found a compelling reason to smile more. What I do know is that my generation and your generation are still obsessed with race. You see it in the schools, with all this political correctness. You see it in business, and you see it in government — to the detriment of all of us.

I get tired of dealing with the race issue. I am keenly aware that racism still exists — with its ugly actors and actions. However, the hope that I have for future generations is that they won't be burdened with color as we are. I see so many biracial kids and children from other countries that the issue of slavery and race won't be below their surface as they grow up.

In the meantime I will continue to smile, or not, based on what life has presented to me. I will assume everyone will do the same. No excuses.

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