Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Kiss is Just a Kiss

Ran across a story from Seattle this morning about a lesbian couple being asked to stop kissing at a baseball game because their smooches were making someone uncomfortable. I thought back to an experience in Savannah about 15 years ago when I was in the hotel lobby gift shop of a Hyatt or Hilton with a colleague from the Council of State Governments. We were picking up gum or some such thing, and as we paid an inter-racial couple walked past the window holding hands. The clerk muttered under her breath, "just makes you want to go get a gun." I don't think she thought anyone could hear her, but my colleague did and said to me, "can you believe what she just said?"
We were appalled, but not terribly surprised. It was, after all, Savannah, circa 1990, and the remark was uttered by an older white woman who, considering where she worked, was probably not particularly worldly or well educated.
But Seattle? 2008? You'd think folks there might be a little less concerned about a kiss.
Apparently the "incident" has stirred up the blogosphere there (and here, obviously). I wonder if there were any random acts of senseless violence in Seattle that night. Probably so. They seem to happen. And we don't get too stirred up. But a random act of love? Well, that's something to boil the blood apparently.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Audacious Hope

No matter what partisan perspective you hold, Barack Obama's victory in the long slog of the Democratic Party's nominating process must be a sign of remarkable hope for this country. For those of us who are roughly contemporaries of Sen. Obama, we can look back at coming of age during the midst of the Civil Rights era and feel viscerally just how far this nation has traveled during our lifetimes as we collectively try to live out the creed that all of us are created equal. For those of us who are Southerners, who were born into the Jim Crow South in places where black folks registered to vote at risk to their lives, the nomination of Sen. Obama is part of the fulfillment of the truly audacious hope that the Civil Rights Movement embodied.
None of that is to say that he is anything like a perfect vessel for carrying forth such hope. Indeed, no one is. Nevertheless, the entire nominating process -- the long, long, long, slow march ... -- has been itself an imperfect vessel for carrying forth the audacious hope that all of us, black folks and white folks, men and women, are created equal. Given time, we might come closer to embodying that hope as a people. As we do, this particular season will be seen always as a milestone along the way.