Monday, October 18, 2004

Racism and the Drumbeat

When is enough enough? After listening to the local sports station over the weekend I have to wonder if there will ever come a day when race won't be used to make us - all of us - feel bad about ourselves.

You see, there is a quaterback for the local NFL team, the Minnesota Vikings, who is a black man. He is also one of the very best quaterbacks in the league this season. Daunte Culpepper has wowed the sports community with MVP-like performances all season long. In years past he has shown flashes of this ability but has he never put it altogether like he has this year. Still, he has his detractors. To this I say - so what. Just because there are people out there who will never be satisfied with Culpepper's performance does not imply they are racist. For the local sportscasters on KFAN to state categorically that Culpepper will never be universally loved because he is black is offensive to me. The truth is, until he wins the Vikings a Superbowl ring he will never be given his proper due.

These sportscasters forget about another local hero who has been celebrated lavishly for his ability and his contribution to the game and the community. He name is Kirby Puckett. Puckett was loved by everyone - black and white - because he was very, very good on and off the field regardless of his race. Kids loved him, little old ladies loved him, heck, I loved him! Puckett helped his team (in fact, in 1991 he carried it on his back) secure a World Series championship. For Puckett and the Twins it was the 2nd time in five years. The difference between Culpepper and Puckett is the rings they wear on their fingers.

When will the day come when a black man can be legitimately or illegitmately critisized without the race card being played? Perhaps, as I have said throughout my life, it will take one or two more generations. My Dad was a bigot as were many men from his generation. Somehow I have "seen the light" and have not passed that on to my son. My son has never heard me say one word that can be construed as derogatory toward anyone of another race because of their race. I have rightly critisized the behavior of people of color when they deserved it. I have stopped my son from using negative characterizations of Hmongs in our city because he needs to know that Hmongs act as individuals just as we do.

To ignore the history of this melting pot and the unique circumstances for our racial diversity is folly, bigots will always be with us. But to constantly use it as a club to make one group feel bad about themselves is disgusting.