Brand New Day – Part 3

| January 20, 2009

Obama Takes Office Observed and Reported

And it’s an unusual thing, that southern dividing line so much more distinct than the Mason-Dixon. When I arrived at UNT in 1980, I landed in a University that had more students than my hometown had people. Growing up on the South Texas border, [ppw id=”133616486″ description=”History Lesson – Obama Takes Office” price=”.10″]

I can count on one hand, and precisely one finger – the number of African Americans in my entire high school of 1500. That is no misprint – one, or uno’.

Imagine being thrust into a micro society where the vast majority of caucasians around you had clear notions of the proper places for whites and blacks in the grand scheme – and those orbits rarely intersected. There were things I saw on both sides of the coin that were an assault on my sensibilities. I remember clearly, while waiting for my team to take the court in intramural basketball, watching a game where a white fraternity was playing a black fraternity (not co-ed). The white fraternity fans in the upper deck looking down on the game were hollering at their opponents, the most vile and racial epithets you could imagine – everything except the N-word. There was no attempt by anyone to intervene, or confront – nothing.

My perception of a reverse reaction was the huge number of black fraternities and sororities, and the (to a white boy) radical things they engaged in — from these rhythmically wild stomp routines and shout performances, to the way they segregated themselves on the basketball court. I wanted nothing more than to play with them because they made me better, but let’s just say I wasn’t always picked for teams (and I am sure it had nothing to do with my skills).

I got used to their stomp practices echoing through the campus over the years, and it finally faded into the soundscape. I finally acquired an ear for their language. People around here started to get used to seeing black & white couples together on campus and in the malls – not stepping away and staring as they had done just a few years earlier. The color blending had finally begun. It came much earlier to this area of North Texas, but it was getting real and some of the lines were finally beginning to blur.

Fast forward to today, and what do we have but a young woman in a restaurant feeling “strange” about the fact that even now groups of all varieties need their space, and need their space in their moments. It really isn’t, or wasn’t discrimination. It was … distinction. Sure the lines get blurred, crossed and moved. Sure the lines exist, but … damn if this wasn’t a day where one line wasn’t erased and redrawn in a place so many of us never dreamed possible so soon, so very soon.

POST SCRIPT
When history happens, you remember where you were and what you were doing when it happened. I don’t know where you were or what you were doing, but I finished this fine day fishing in some sweet tanks in Sanger, Texas. I guess I fished about a solid hour or little more, and must have caught 50 fish at the behest of the owner who wanted to know how the fish he stocked last year were doing (and also took a casting lesson from LK while we were there). I can’t recall a day when I caught Largemouth, Crappie, and three varieties of Bream in rapid fire progression. His tanks are low on water and high on fish. I’ll never forget this day – all of it.

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Category: Life Observed, OFF TOPIC, Writing

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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