Dean Clough

May 4, 2021

Portico Darwin: Arrival & Exit Mendocino + Race

As I listen to my new obsession, Santana’s “Waves Within “ I'm also marveling at the same without on our last morning here in the only-in-California-Mendocino. 

It was quite a party at the Killer Glendeven Inn:  Husky trainer George Valiant Walker and his drastically better half, Sherry Pace.  Sherry's sister, the gifted educator Anastasia Pace Scarf and her hubby, AC/DC fan club charter member Bob Scarf.  And Phoenicians (actually, Queen Creek-ers) Champ Hustler and his radiant fiance', Chloe' Storm.  So basically from Friday until now, it's been one big fog, weather-related and not.  And not always my own fog, either, and in fact, it was Chamber of Commerce the last two days.

If you want more, here are the best photos, and be sure to read my Travel Guide.

Today, I’m going to go meta about our brains, and no, this isn't some Emerald Triangle hangover.  Specifically, I want to remind you we’re built for complexity and nuance.  For example: two things apparently in opposition can be true at once.

For example, when I say "I love America", it's true. 

And when I say "Our history with racial justice is objectively brutal and awful," it's also true.  And I feel I was misinformed (intentionally or not) on the subject as a child.  More on that below.

Remember all that as we witness the clamor from Droopy Dog and his fellow primitives about the Education Department even just discussing changes to how our country’s racial history is taught.  Remember, the facts are:  McConnell and his America-killers are raising a big fuss because the Education Secretary simply asked for comments

As a refresher, here's what I (and I think many others) was taught growing up:
  • Yes, we had slaves, but our Founding Fathers meant well when they defined blacks as less than a whole human, and
  • Lincoln and the other Union good guys won and freed the slaves (and the losing side could still even proudly fly their flags - like forever, 'cause, heck, it was just good ol' Johnny Reb and The Dukes of Hazard - not the treasonous would-be destroyers of The Union).
  • The post-Civil War period gets almost glamorized for blacks (especially by Hollywood), if you call being a domestic and swatted on the ass by your white boss as he and the family laugh "glamorous".
  • While there were teeny-tiny problems like Jim Crow and segregation enforced by naked violence, most African Americans moved to Detroit, Chicago or Philadelphia, joined the middle class, and became "Julia".
  • Whatever problems that remained were fixed way back in the 1960’s by LBJ, with the martyred MLK right at his side.
  • And thus, in 2021, America is not racist and we don't have to talk about it any more.

But, uh, no. That’s objectively not what happened:
  • Emancipated slaves were given nothing, exemplified by the lie of “40 acres and a mule.”  Unlike their newly arriving European counterparts (who got land on the cheap from the Feds as they chartered the Transcontinental Railroad), the average freed slave got exactly nothing.
  • That was not the only problem.  Emancipated slaves were terrorized at best and simply killed at worst, by defeated Confederates and others who took to wearing white sheets and going by three initials.  Some didn’t even bother to conceal themselves with sheets - why bother when there was rarely punishment?
  • While a black middle- and upper class eventually came to exist, it was stymied every step of the way by official things like Federal redlining and unofficial but still racist things like neighborhood covenants.  One must be honest and admit that if African Americans had been allowed to build wealth like many others in the USA (like returning GI's), the picture for blacks here would be different.
  • And I ask you this, in terms of street-level racial justice:  think about all of the abuse and maiming we've not seen.  There was a fair bit of time before the advent of smart phones and body cams made it easier (but definitely not foolproof) to see the abuse.  OMFG tell me that's not horrifying.

Are there bad black people?  Gee, I don't know, are there bad white people?   To me, we are perhaps finally getting real about what has gone on for a very long time.  Don't believe me?  Ping me, and I'll be happy to send you a copy of "Separate and Unequal", a book about the LBJ-sanctioned Kerner Commission from the mid 1960's - fully sixty years ago.   It's a tragic book, because the problems discussed and fixes suggested are as relevant today as they were then.  That's not progress; in fact, it's the opposite.

So yes:  it's possible to love America but also get real about our past, as a way of bettering our future.  For everyone.  Why the hesitation by McConnell and other R's to even discuss teaching the objective truth? 

You guys are too good to me.  From Bob Scarf's hilarious if deranged in-person attaboy's in Mendo, to childhood hero Steven Simon's encouragement for me to go big, and on to the wonderful ongoing support from a certain 5 Star professor emerita, getting this blog going and its reception has been super fun and gratifying.  Cyd Darwin and Primo Harvey, PhD also sent along their typically very kind words after my last post.

So a big thank you to anyone that is reading this blog.  Feel free to point people you think might be interested to my website, - it's easy to subscribe there.  I'll be humbly pleased if this should organically grow, but I'm not sure if I'm going to do anything more beyond that other than just keep writing.

Here's Ella Fitzgerald and her wonderful "Duke Ellington Songbook".   I hope as you enjoy her dulcet tones on Sir Duke's tunes, you'll consider the bullshit both had to put up with their entire lives, despite their obvious talent and for no other reason than being black.  

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.