Thursday, February 12, 2009

Black History Month

This link has a new face and a new quote each day throughout this month of Black History. I'm finding it really interesting, especially since I've heard of so few of these people. I'm also interested in how many of them clearly are not completely filled with African blood. I don't know why that surprises me. It shouldn't, but it does.

I remember meeting a black man in a Laundromat. He asked me out to lunch "if you don't mind a half-breed." Turns out he's half Italian. Well, me too. So why am I white and he's black? I mean, yes, his other half is African and mine is god-knows-what, but why isn't there something to describe our shared blood?

But then I had a black co-worker who didn't consider Italians to be white. He didn't call them black either. Hmm. I don't know what he thought of us.

Somewhere in my teens, I started being ashamed that I was a WASP (white anglo-saxon protestant), and was relieved when I finally figured out that Italians don't fit that profile. My mother's side does but when you've got even One Drop of Italian, it's like all your drops are Italian, no matter what you look like, no matter how lacking in ethnic excitement your upbringing. This is why I can actually believe I'm not a WASP when, in fact, at least half of me is. Hmm ...

My former mechanic's last name is Chan. Since he looks like a plain ol' white guy, I asked about that. Well, many many generations ago, a Chinaman moved to Trinidad and married there. A bit later, one of the descendants moved to the U.S. More generations later, here's Mister Chan, with no sign at all of that One Drop that at least was demanded to make a person black if not Chinese ... or mechanically inclined.

One of the worst things about having changed my name at marriage was that people said to me, "You don't look Swedish." My mom got rejected from a jury because of her last name. Oh wait. Because of her husband's last name, Nicolazzo. If she'd retained her maiden name, Huckabone, which is, um, IrishSwedishGermanMutt, she'd have served on the jury.

I recently saw a giant pickup truck with a grey-headed couple in it (meaning: my age). The front license plate -- the fake one here in Florida where we only require the back plate -- said WASP 1. In the back was a bumper sticker: America -- Love It or Leave It. Talk about a blast from the past. I suppose that was in response to the tee shirts and bumpers stickers you can see now that show the peace sign and say, "Back by popular demand!" I guess rigidity -- something WASPs are famous for -- would oppose America -- Love It or Change It.


Anyway, go check out that site. While you're there, click on the button and give food to people. Go all the way to the top and click on other tabs to click on other buttons to inspire the sponsors to give books, cat food, mammograms, Green Stamps, whatever ... You, too, can become a clicktivist and Change It.

Here's something I love about Black History Month: At least it pins down the word "black." I don't have to fuss with African-American or Afro-American. I can just say black and be done with it. For one month, I can be politically correct. That why I love the Bureau of Indian Affairs, too. This is a sign of middle-age, of course, but I don't care. I'm right on schedule.

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