Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Response to Scoop Jackson's ESPN Page 2 post 11.2.05

I just read your article lambasting Phil Jackson for his recent remarks. I think he deserved it. But your tirade coupled with Phil's remarks only pulls back the curtain on trouble that is brewing in America. I happen to be white. My best friend in black. I was best man in his wedding. But, he is from Jamaica. I don't regard him as special because he's black. He's simply my best friend. But he's not from the culture you describe either. I couldn't be friends with a white guy from the Hip Hop culture you describe. And it's not because I feel any hate; it's because I don't have anything in common with my perception of the attitude emanating from that culture.

I'm very glad you included Eminem in your references. My contention has always been that we don't have a race problem in America, it is a culture clash problem, whether the people in that culture are black or white. I once argued with a black student of mine about blacks that had done well that are Republicans such as Colin Powel and Condoleeza rice. Her reaction? "They ain't black!" You know, she's right. They don't represent the Hip Hop culture that you ably defended in your column. They represent the ruling elite culture, regardless of color.

And that is the trouble brewing under the surface. I felt such intense righteous indignation and anger in your column. Phil Jackson probably feels the same frustration and incredulity (and hence anger) in his views. How are we going to come together? How do you begin to reconcile such disparate views?

I'm thankful you made the first step to redefine the argument away from skin color. No, it is a culture difference that is dividing Americans. We are no longer a melting-pot of cultures. Thanks to multi-culturism, we are all free to feel our culture is best with no outside objective standard of what is best or what could be worse.

I don't have the answers. I know that I don't identify with any attitude of Hip Hop. From my vantage point I see a lack of humility. I see "in your face" aggression. I see blatant flouting of civility and respect for others. I see a proud smirk that makes me just want to slap it off every face I see it on. Your culture seems to value power and money, no matter what it costs or where it leads people.

Granted, I'm not defending the Martha Stewarts, Karl Roves, or back-door dealings of Tom DeLay. I detest their "salesman-slick" smiles as they gently ease the knife in your back. I don’t represent those values either. I value honor, humility, integrity, truth, and competence. I value freedom, respect for others, and mutual understanding. I also value appeals to an absolute truth, that truth can be known and that there is a standard by which we should all measure ourselves, regardless of race, creed, or culture.

But, how can I come to the table when my counterpart values completely opposite things and will view my honor and humility as weakness? Therein lies the frustration that I feel and I would guess that most people I represent feel.

Thanks for opening the discourse. I'm willing to lay aside that past if you are. Can the Hip Hop culture get over it's anger over past hurts and realize that I and others in my generation are not responsible for past injuries? Will you be able to lay down your desire to lord your newfound economic power over others and have a civil discussion among equals? Am I racist for thinking such things?

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