Sunday, September 28, 2008

KKK at Presidential Debate

This really shouldn't come as a shock to me, however, I am shocked. When the news reported the KKK was planning on attending the Presidential debate my face became long and sorrowful and my heart turned to Michelle Obama. I can only imagine as a wife and mother what she is feeling at this point. Somewhere in my idealistic spirit I would like to believe this ongoing display of ignorance, hatred and anonymity would come to a close. Watching movies like Mississippi Burning seem like a chapter of history that needs to be remembered so it is never again repeated. But not a story that continues to exist in our modern day in a more "appropriate form" meaning not blatantly murdering, coconspiring with the police and active cross and church burning.

No where in my rational or irrational brain do I find a place to wrap around hatred for skin color. No where. Yet it still lurks in the silence places of America. The Klan members chose to remain anonymous in their interviews, stated they would not be wearing their "clothing regalia" and people would just have to "guess" who they were. Additionally, they chose NOT to use the designated protest zone as a location to display their silly cross-burning antics. A cause that cannot be backed by a visible face and a name seems weak. Hiding behind statements that are said but not owned and sheets that show only calloused eyes by no means seems like a strong force in society. However, I'm sure those African-Americans or blacks (however you choose to define yourself) living in the south or other parts of the country where the Klan exists don't really care the size of the group. It's just knowing their is a hate group that exists where they despise you for no substantial reason. Knowing you can't' speak logic to someone or someones so illogical.

That takes me back to 2001, 21 years old, where I went to Atlanta, Georgia to meet my business partner at the time. He was black and I was white and rather than pretend we were the "same" we had great discussions about the differences that were present in both of our lives and how they effected us. I think it was through these conversations we connected at deep levels revealing more similarities and differences and opened doors beyond what we thought. He told me that as a black man or black community in Georgia, you tend to not go outside the "parameter" that loosely surrounds the full radius of Atlanta. He told me how a high school out the "parameter" was celebrating their first integrated prom in 2001 after a long fight the kids put up because the parents were still supporting segregation. My little naive Utah mind jumped wildly through the roof thinking, "What? This stuff doesn't still exist! People have evolved, moved on, let go!"

It is sad to me that it does and is present at the most incredibly diverse election. Even during the primary's we had a Mormon, a Woman, a Black Man--it was great! Not that anyone of these candidates it to be defined by their outward trait, but I'd feel amiss to not at least acknowledge for the first time we moved beyond the white, male candidates!

There was a fantastic article that explains more in depth about the history of where the presidential debate took place, Ole Miss or more formally, University of Mississippi. A historic place where desegregation began, and where James Meredith was escorted by US Marshalls to class as the first black man to attend the university. With a 16% black population as of today, the debate location was more than mere availability and geographic location.

It boils down to 2008 and we're still hearing about hate groups spending significant time and energy to perpetuate what...more hate. I hope to see the day where my children are not writing about the KKK or the significance of a diverse primary pool but that the norm is reestablished and we have moved on.--@DP

To read more from Time magazine, CLICK HERE