Reconciling the Races ‘Under God’ - Part 3
Craig: In America, it seems like we've had cycles where Whites and Blacks have gotten along very well with each other. In the 1920s, during the Harlem Renaissance all things 'Black' were in vogue. We saw the same thing in the 1960s. And today it's the same way. Since the days of slavery, we have seen cycles where the common people have risen up and said, 'Why can't we just get along?' I believe that it is becoming more like that, and will continue to be like that.
Michael: I think it will be that way. I think we've entered into this zone where 'Black' is accepted. It's o.k., and once again we are all moving ahead. Once again, regarding the knife analogy that you used earlier, I think it depends on the demographic. I think for people fifty and above, maybe, that mentality is still there. A fifty-five year old parent or grandparent might look at a young Black kid and White kid playing together, and on one side they're excited because they see them getting along. On the other side, they're envious because they never had this. On another side they're doubtful because they don't believe it will last.
But what I see from my nieces and my nephews, and from traveling the world and the States relentlessly, and from MTV once again – I see a new day. I really see a new day. And I see the day that my Dad dreamed of and talked about and worked towards in raising his family. I see the day the day that King talked about, where Black boys and White boys get together, that day is coming. That day is upon us. And it's kind of sneaked in on us. All of us adults are talking about race relations, and we now look around and say, 'wait a minute, it's going fine over here.' Let it take its course.
Craig: This book is a celebration of that, isn't it?
Michael: No question.
Craig: It looks at both the good and the bad of race relations, kind of like the Jews and the Holocaust Museum with a message of 'let's not forget.' We've got to teach our children the right way. Just like Rogers and Hammerstein in 'South Pacific' had that song, 'You've Got to be Carefully Taught' that says, "You've got to be taught before it's too late, before you are six, or seven, or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate, you've got to be carefully taught." I think this book is saying just the opposite. Before our children get too old we need to teach them to love, and to understand, and to work for reconciliation. We need to teach them that these are the negative things that could happen, and we must guard against it.
Michael: And the scary part about it is the old cliché, 'history not taught will be history repeated.' Sometimes we don't want to study it because it's embarrassing. It kind of shows our scars as a nation, as a people. But we went through it, man. It's a part of who we are. It's made us who we are.
I definitely feel responsible as an African-American to my Dad for what he put into me. That's how I was hard-wired. I don't want to prostitute this platform. I don't want to abuse it. I want to use it for the betterment of people, period, always. In being given a chance to have a voice, how sad it would be to allow this to be smothered or tainted because of ignorance or pride.
A lot of people are telling me that 'Under God' is like a reference book. Right now, Toby and I are touring together, and we sell these at our shows. A lot of parents, and kids, and Sunday School teachers are using this as a source book. Which 'Jesus Freaks' kind of was to, in the sense of what happened and who died for their faith. In this case, who tried to conquer an area in history, whether it be racism, or just survival of the fittest. People are touched by it because it's a part of who we are. It's factual and it's in easy-read form.
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