Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Building Bridges in Montgomery, Alabama

If neither blacks or whites in Montgomery can move beyond 1955, see what needs to be done in the city to improve life for us all and put aside the past, we are destined to have warring factions as has been the case in the uproar over school Superintendent Carlinda Purcell. I’m not saying to forget the history or injustice behind the anger. As many in the community have done and are doing, what I’m asking is for everyone to build bridges, not burn them. Much work remains. Talking about race is hard. We need to do that and admit where we can do better. And we must be willing to ask ourselves, “Do I feel this way because of my race?”

Let us choose our words as well as our leaders carefully. Let us make sure that they are not a part of Montgomery’s ingrained “Good Ole Boy” network or the usual crowd of politicians (both white and black) looking to throw their influence around. Let us look for our similarities rather than our differences.


Tim said...

And if they can't build bridges, at least start with a ferry.

Sheila said...

Thanks Tim, you made me smile. Lots of folks have been taking this issue and elevating it to another Montgomery Bus Boycott. I hope it doesn't escalate into that. I am somewhere smack dab in the middle, seeing truth in some of what supporters and detractors are saying. There'll probably be at least one more post before I can move on. My husband wants to retire to Italy. Ah, a whole 'nother set of issues. Does everyone there in Norway get along pretty good?

Tim said...

We have our small amount of racists here, but violence is almost entirely restricted to Oslo. Racism, violence, murders, rape, etc. is almost non-existent in Norway compared to other places in the world. Most people here just prefer to protest peacefully when it comes to current issues.

I've made so many acquaintances here of foreign origin since moving here 5 years ago that only watching American news reminds me of racial issues. I've even had coffee and tea with muslims that would make you forget about the extremists.

It's all about what frame you put around your mind. Hate's much easier than kindness, understanding and love for your neighbor, of course, but it also causes more stress.

I'll never understand racial hate or anti-foreign feelings from Americans, since after all, isn't the U.S. all about being a melting pot and racial diversity? ALL of our ancestors were immigrants - what right have we to complain? And as far as race goes, we all share the same dna origins, so those who hate a black man, a chinese man or a middle-eastern man is only hating his brother, in essence. Ok, I'm off my podium now. :)

Norway is a great place to start a life, but not to retire to, unless you come carrying a mass quantity of money. It's been voted the best place in the world to live, but also the most expensive place in the world. I'd pick Spain for retirement - it's what the wife and I dream about.

Sheila said...

Thanks Tim, I do share your view. It's interesting to hear how Norway deals with issues. Be glad that you are not in America now with the anti-immigrant focus many folks are stuck on. We had a primary candidate on the ballot in Alabama who actually suggested armed militia on the Interstates to turn away illegal immigrants. He lost but got over 40 percent of the vote I think. The Democratic Party told him he wasn't wanted in the party.

niCk (Mem Beth) said...

Hi Sheila, I came across your comment in my blog cruised over to peruse your posts.

I see you are a "To Kill A Mockingbird". Did you happen to catch the play while it was at ASF?
They did an excellent job. I was amazed what a good job with limited amount of sets and props, gave good focus to the theme and dialogue.

I have been in Montgomery for three years and have noticed a subtle racism still practiced here, and it is more appearent than other places I've lived in the South, like Atlanta, Birmingham, and Southern Virginia.

Sheila said...

Yes, we did see the ASF production. I loved Scout and the narrator, but I couldn't picture anyone else playing Atticus except Gregory Peck. I'm not being fair I know. Despite that I did enjoy the play--just not as much as the Shakespeare plays that I have seen there. I am amazed we have such a fine theatre and they do such a good job.

Until recently I would have agreed that the racism was more subtle but not now.

AlexD said...

Hey Sheila,

I want to say I like your blog, and I think that you and I are the only two (active) blogger in the city of Montomery. Honestly I am confused as to what happened to Dr. Purcell and how her subsequent dismissal occurred. Keep up the good work and please honor me by reading my blog.

Keep up the good work.


Sheila said...

Welcome Alexd! I'll come over and check out your blog. Funny, I missed it. Anyway, as far as Dr. Purcell goes, I think she started out of the gate and excuse my French, pissed off the powers that be, a.k.a. Montgomery's Good Ole Boys--the ones used to running things their way. They don't cotton to outsiders and once in a while they have to give an outsider or two a job that they'd really rather give to one of their own but circumstances don't allow. Now, Dr. Purcell didn't win me over with a couple of decisions and that is why I became disenchanted (well, I was sort of a fence sitter before the graduation issue). The horse had left the gate and whether it was orchestrated or not, I don't know. I have my theory but no facts. I didn't want her to stay, but I think there's more than meets the eye. Anyway, I have gone on too much. I will still support public education whenever and wherever I can. My son is a senior at BTW, but I will still care.