Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish – so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
Sam Wolter Foss
We live in a house by the side of the road and, on sweet summer nights, we sit on the porch and watch the race of men go by.
From our perch we’ve seen chubby babies take their first step, eager little boys chase hundreds of baseballs, happy families juggling ice cream cones while pulling wagons full of sticky kids, grey haired couples strolling hand-in-hand, and rowdy teenagers with lead feet driving old cars with pounding bass, and burning rubber as they go.
The view from our porch is pretty sweet, but it isn’t perfect.
From where I sit on my front porch in the middle of a charming city recently cited as one of the smartest cities in the country, I’ve seen ugliness too.
That’s why I believe the people vilifying an obtuse Southern chef are missing the point. The people defending her are too.
The problem in this country isn’t that an older white woman said a racist word. It’s that racism still exists at all.
And it does.
It’s right here on the street in front of my house, a word flung from a passing car and aimed at a group of kids. Sometimes, it’s not the word at all, but the tone used by the person speaking it. “Mexicans.”
It’s a threat some drivers feel when they pass through neighborhoods other than their own. “DWB” — Driving While Black. It happens. Right here.
It’s the inclination to clutch her purse a little tighter when a woman passes a black man on the street.
It’s the bad joke told at the expense of a good person and the laughter that follows.
I believe we live in the greatest country on earth. But we’re young and we’re sometimes foolish. We react swiftly to the day’s news and we don’t always take time to digest it. We expend mind-boggling levels of energy debating endless minutia when actual problems stare us right in the face.
The first step to solving any problem is to acknowledge it.
How do we change that? We choose our words with care and we monitor the tone in which we speak them. We let go the foolish notion that the color of a person’s skin is any indication of the quality of their heart. We don’t tell the nasty jokes and we don’t laugh at them either.
We take the time to know each other and empathize with the challenges we all face.
We live in our houses by the side of the road and we be a friend to man.
God Bless America!