All my life I've been at odds with the word 'Choice'. As American's we're told from the beginning that we live in a country where we can actually have a 'Choice' in our lives and, yes, sometimes they're not particularly good or smart or even right (I have problems with the word 'Right', also. We'll talk about that later), but we have the right to choose.
In the last decade I, and a whole lot of others, have awaken to the truth that the American's who have 'Choices' are usually white and not a person of color and that women of all races have even fewer options and if you're not a cop or wealthy politician or head of a drug cartel it doesn't matter if you're white and the whole 'Choice' thing goes out the window with all the other fairy tales we've been fed over the years.
I'm one of those white people who never really thought about race. I grew up on the south side of the tracks, my friends were Hispanic, Black, Asian and Native American. We hung out, we played, we shared, we had hopes and dreams, went to movies together and it never mattered to me about their skin color...But that's the thing, isn't it? I didn't have to think about it. The first time it actually came up was in high school when Tommy and I went to see 'The French Connection', an Academy Award movie where every white person couldn't speak without using racial slurs. I began to feel uncomfortable and angry and when we walked outside my black friend summed it up with: 'Why did a movie like that get an Academy Award?'
I had no answer.
Tommy and I were close. When my sister slipped out of the house one night he and I went looking for her, going into a few bars where the white crowd literally went quiet when we walked in. Tommy was one of the best men I've ever known, always there and a friend in every way possible.
When I went away to Bible School we kept in touch for a while then he stopped writing. Upon coming back I went over to his family's home and discovered he'd (Allegedly) committed suicide.
I still can't understand why but as I look at the world today and think back with an enlightened mind about the way small towns like the one I live in had a ladder of social acceptability and it wasn't until I did some digging into Casa Grande's history that I realized it had always been more than a tad racist...Probably not like Mississippi racist but to those who are never allowed to choose for themselves comparisons mean shit.
I kept on trying to believe we had a 'Choice' that went beyond picking out a meal from a menu or what flavor ice cream to eat, even wrote and illustrated a story for a magazine entitled 'The Choice' in the late 70s. It was about 'God', a black man with a 70s everything, a white son who didn't want to carry on his 'Chosen' legacy and a sister who would do anything to sit on the throne. (I have this problem with religions and tend to try and work them out with my writing). In the early 80s I expanded the story and it was released as a Graphic Novel, still called 'The Choice', and I added in the whole LGBTQ equation as well and it did okay in the market...It was really popular with prison's and I kept getting requests for their libraries...Don't go looking for it, please. It's dated in so many ways.
But it still ends with the truth about us having any real 'Choice' in much of anything important. I sometimes think the only real choice we have is to stay silent when those around us are filled with immorality, racism, sexism and all the other 'Isms', or speak up and maybe lose friends and family because our society is one where you either fit in or you are the enemy. Believe in their 'God', believe in their politics, believe in their laws or pay a very heavy price which sometimes means your body being dropped off somewhere in the desert.
A while back I decided I wanted to know more about the history of our country and the last ten years have been really kind of depressing. Thanks to the whole Freedom of Information act so much of what we'd been taught in school, what we've seen on the big and small screen as 'Historical Re-creations', every freaking thing about our way of life has been a lie.
Unless you're white and rich.
Just look at the laws this administration is trying to pass, look at the laws they've broken and keep breaking and the racists words coming out of their mouths every moment of every day...Look at the police and their answer to any situation involving people of color...Look upon America's works and be afraid.
Like I said, I never thought about 'Race' being an issue with me. It should have been and I really wish I could have been a better friend, a better person and have actually gone out into the world back in the 60s and 70s and tried to help change the wrongs instead of just reading about them or seeing them in passing on the news.
Maybe we will one day grow up...But I'm a really bad 'Prophet' and it's more likely we'll destroy ourselves and our planet before we can fix this species of ours. Life is precious and even now, with age beating me up every day and the aches and pains and bad dreams, I love life. I still have hope for our species. But we no longer have the comfort of turning our eyes and looking away from the wrongs and sins of our culture.
We really have no choice but to make things right.