|

Elliot: My skin has color

BY BEAU ELLIOT | APRIL 30, 2013 5:00 AM

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

On the day NBA player Jason Collins came out of the closet (the first active male player in the big pro sports to do so), I was thinking about segregation.

Not because Collins happens to be African American, in the same way I happen to be Irish American and you happen to be whatever you are. Until we get to the Brave New World 2.0 in which we get to choose our parents, ethnicity means as much to me as eye color or hair color.

And yes, I mean “ethnicity.” There’s only one race among human beings. Go ask the Human Genome Project.

Or don’t. It’s really hard to talk to a project, even one with “human” in its name. It’s a one-sided conversation, and Lord knows, humans have more than enough of those.

On the day NBA player Jason Collins came out of the closet, I was also thinking about Louie Gohmert, a Republican congressman from Texas (where else?) who last week, apparently coddling his inner Joe McCarthy, said:

“This administration has so many Muslim Brotherhood members that have influence that they just are making wrong decisions for America.”

Hmm. The Muslim Brotherhood is running the White House? When it comes to President Obama (not a Muslim, so far as sane people can tell) and, say, his policy on drone strikes, I thought Dick Cheney was still running the White House.

In fairness to Gohmert (not that he is, given that he has no evidence that anyone from the Muslim Brotherhood is involved in the administration), we should hear the full quote:

“It’s very clear to everybody but this administration that radical Islam is at war against us. And I’m hoping either this administration will wake up or a new one will come in at the next election before irreparable damage is done. Because radical Islam is at war with us. Thank God for the moderates who don’t approve of what’s being done. But this administration has so many Muslim Brotherhood members that have influence that they just are making wrong decisions for America.” 

Um, yeah. “Where have you gone, Joe McCarthy, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” Oops, wrong song. Wrong Joe, too.

On the day NBA player Jason Collins came out of the closet, I was, indeed, thinking about segregation. That old segregation. The kind that, when you traveled in the South, you saw the signs (or at least I did as a little kid): public restrooms — “Men, Women, Colored.” Public water fountains — “White, Colored.”

I was thinking about a particular water fountain in a park in southern Mississippi where my family had stopped to refill the water bottles, and the line at the “White” fountain was 50 or 75 people long (well, OK; I was a little kid — the line was probably only 18 or 20 people long). There was no one at the “Colored” water fountain.

My father was honking the car horn to tell me to get on my horse and gallop. So I walked over to the “Colored” water fountain, had a good drink, then refilled my water bottle.

Immediately, a white woman was towering over me, yelling, telling me I was not allowed to use that “Colored” water fountain and ordering me to dump the water out.

I was 7 or 8, I think, but already a smart-assed kid. I used to think that it came from being Irish, but more likely, it came from being a kid.

I stuck my arm out (easy to do; I was wearing a T-shirt) and told her, My skin has color.

On the day NBA player Jason Collins came out of the closet, I was thinking about segregation.

You go, Jason Collins. Maybe one of these days, people will be allowed to marry whomever they want. Talk about a Brave New World.


In today's issue:





 
Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.