Thursday, November 6, 2008

Not Sugar Candy: Multicultural America

These two have a lot in common.

My goodness, what a lot of fuss in the New York and Washington media about America’s first African-American President. Their surprise is what surprises me. I’m reminded of some lines Sidney Poitier says to his father in the 1967 movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” when he finds his father disapproves of his interracial marriage. “You see yourself as a black man,” says Poitier. “And I see myself as a man.”

Oprah Winfrey, not Katie Couric, is the most popular woman on television and one of America’s wealthiest women to boot. Katie just gets a salary. Will Smith, not Kevin Costner, is America’s hottest movie star. Think sports heroes, and Tiger Woods, Michael Jordon, and Alex Rodriguez come to mind long before Cal Ripkin, Jr. And young people are lining up to see Beyonce Knowles, not Debby Boone.

Sorry, mainstream media. America has been multicultural and colorblind for a long time. You just noticed it now? As Winston Churchill said during a visit to North America in World War II: “We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.”

By the way, the restrained British barely raised an eyebrow when they elected Margaret Thatcher as their Prime Minister. A woman? I say, she certainly is, but jolly good for her.

I remember when I was a young reporter and I interviewed a developer in Portland, Oregon who had just turned a former downtown factory into one of the city’s most successful indoor shopping malls. He was Japanese-American and his parents had been interned during World War II. Now he’s a multi-millionaire. When I asked him about that he laughed and said “Yeah, my Dad would be really surprised.”

America is not perfect, but it has always been about opportunity. With each wave of immigration and each wave of change, the newcomers, the different, the “other,” have faced discrimination from the ignorant. None more so than the descendants of slavery, that stain on America’s past. But we got over it.

Now it is time for the mainstream media to do the same.

President-elect Barak Obama is an articulate young man who is taking office at an extremely difficult time in American history. I don’t care what color he is, I just hope he does a good job.

What color, by the way, do you think those people were in the Bible?


lflarson said...

Well put, but I was still surprised by the weight of history when Obama's election was announced. Perhaps it's in one's experience and point of view. Perhaps, like water currents, there are some layers of change in history that move quickly; others more slowly. In any case, you're right, Obama is just a man. Hope he can lead us out of the thicket we're in.

lflarson said...

PS: GREAT Lincoln quotation.

lflarson said...

Ah, Mike put it more clearly...he wasn't surprised at the outcome, he was surprised about how he felt.

Anonymous said...

Robin, I put this here because I tried twice to email your blog but it came back saying unable to deliver.

Ok, I made this recipe. Goodness!!! I never really paid attention to the measurements until I was actually assembling the batter. I thought there were errors, one cup of oil? Anyway, I couldn’t believe how well it turned out. My family loved it!!! Even my picky, very selective 12 year old daughter thought it was awesome. Now, that is a compliment. I think you won an award or contest here in Portland back in the day, didn’t you? Seems I remember you making a comment like, " I was going to make a lemon meringue pie but meringue is so hard to do."

Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. It is so easy that will most definitely become part of the my repertoire for holidays and special gatherings. Yes, I do all the cooking and baking in our family so the more simple the better. My wife thinks that I think she cant cook. So this is what she tells me. I know she can she just doesn’t like to.

Thanks again!

Robin Chapman said...

Well, thanks for the comment Anonymous. One whole cup of oil seemed strange to me too, but it works as you discovered. Wait a few days. It is even better after it sits a bit.