Something Is Happening!

To read this morning that Obama is leading McCain in every part of the country including the South signifies that something new is happening in the U.S. — perhaps one of those qualitative changes that signifies a radical change?

When I was working with a gang of little guys in West Harlem back in the mid 1950s there was one African American cop patrolling the precinct. Nearly all the rest were commuters in from either New Jersey or Long Island. Harlem was an alien land occupied by a foreign military. Even the attitudes of the social workers in Manhattanville Community Center were distancing. A very Germanic psychiatrist insisted that 9/10 of our kids were borderline schizophrenics. And they were treated that way.

What I am seeing now, I hope, is a new United States in which most people are working with diverse others whom they have been getting to know as friends. A few years ago an Obama would have had no chance to win a nomination of a major party. But now we are seeing African Americans performing key jobs in both major parties. A barrier looks to be being shattered before our eyes. Or at least I hope so.

Even Harlem, itself, is being diversified for better or worse with many moving in through the gentrification process. Our family certainly is close to many many African friends. When my wife and I were in college we were likely to have less than a handful of African American classmates. Vassar when I started teaching there in 1963 had 3 lonely African American students out of 1,700!

Let us hope that Obama is bringing us a new day.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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