mad in pursuit journal


Four Little Girls

Last night we watched "4 Little Girls" (1997), a Spike Lee documentary currently playing on HBO On Demand. It's the sad recounting of how 4 black girls were killed in the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. The interviews with their parents and sisters and schoolmates were wrenching. It happened the September I entered high school. I'm sure I was only vaguely aware of it at the time. I'm still surprised at both the hatred and the legal repression of African Americans in my "enlightened" times.

During the movie I was asking myself whether that era was truly behind us. It hasn't been such a long time since 1963 yet here we are poised to elect President a man who is the offspring of a mixed race marriage.

It makes me realize how important civil rights and human rights legislation are. Last week I heard someone say, "I don't think the country is ready to elect a black president." In 1960, good people were saying that we weren't "ready for" integration. Are we ever "ready" for change? Is a person ever really "ready" for what parenthood brings? Maybe we should get rid of the mindset of "ready" and simply decide what is "right" or "just" or "fair."

Gays. Mexicans. Political prisoners. We are full of excellent justifications for denying people rights -- immorality, illegality, evil. But we are blind to the consequences of being mean. We get all huffy at their anger. We tell people how they must "earn" rights, instead of admitting that humans are born with rights. We always think a wall is the solution -- around Guantanamo, between the US and Mexico, between Israelis and Palestinians, around Bagdad, around all our gated communities.

Sigh... I don't have the answer...


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