Monday, January 09, 2012


Lonesome landscape
As mentioned in a previous post, Maty and I made a day trip to Sedona, last month.  During the drive north from Phoenix, we stopped at a maintained viewpoint along the highway to snap a few photos.  Among the handful of tourists gathered there was a young family:  a tall, blonde, broad-shouldered Caucasian man, his petite, black-skinned dark-eyed wife, and their two cocoa-colored children, three to five years of age.  They made a beautiful, touching picture as they walked from the restroom to their car.  They walked hand in hand, one parent on either side, the two children between them.

I recognized the woman as African.  Not African-American, mind you, but African.  (I can always tell.  It has something to do with the set of the eyes, the depth of expression.)  Being married to an African woman myself, I felt a kinship with this little family.  It was a kinship tinged with sorrow and compassion.  I can't exactly say why.  Maybe it had to do with the silent, lonesome landscape and the stark blue sky.  Partly.  But partly, it also had to do with the ugly, racist undercurrents that exist in these United States. 

Back in the bad old days, some states (I'll let you guess which) had laws that criminalized interracial marriage.  But in 1967, the United States Supreme Court declared these miscegenation laws unconstitutional. (The ruling came as a result of the famous Loving versus Virginia case.)  Well, those days are behind us, hopefully forever.  Nonetheless, we're a long way from a color-blind nation.

Later that same day, as we walked along the main drag of Sedona, I became aware of an older woman, perhaps in her mid-60s, giving Maty and I a wide-eyed stare.  She was trying to be discreet, but I noticed her out of the corner of my eye.  When I looked directly at her, she shifted her gaze to a point somewhere over my shoulder.  But I knew she was looking at us, at the black woman and the ambiguously-colored man.   She turned to watch us as we walked past.  She was Caucasian, with bright, startled eyes behind round-wire framed lenses.  She was not smiling.

Maty noticed her too and we had a laugh at her expense.  I suppressed an urge to approach and confront her.

Doing just fine, thank you very much.
No worries about Maty and me.  We're doing fine and we sure as hell aren't going to let some frightened old woman affect the way we feel about ourselves and each other.  But I thought of the family we'd seen earlier that day, especially about the children.

It is a terrible, mortifying realization that there are people who disapprove of you, distrust you, perhaps even hate you for no better reason than being who you are.  People who hold these attitudes are cruel and ignorant, and I find it hard to tolerate them.  If I were a better man, I would pity them.  Theirs is a fearful and despairing existence.

Vestiges of miscegenation, the residue of institutionalized racism, pollute this country.  Miscegenation!  Just as with the hysteria about gay marriage, it doesn't make a damn bit of sense!

What kind of a society puts restrictions on the types of people who can love each other?


Urban340 said...

You were in AZ......whaaaaaaat?

idwan said...

Powerful post brother.