Sunday, July 27, 2008

Race Relations

Ted and I go to a fantastic church, Judson Memorial Church, on Washington Square South, led by our minister, the genius Donna Schaper. The church is liberal, creative, artistic, smart, out-there -- we love it. Come visit us. Marc Jacobs did.
One of the issues the church talks about often is race and the problems of race in our country. It has helped to move me forward.

Where I grew up in Utica, New York, -- well, in New Hartford actually, outside Utica, I did not know one black person. Not one. There were projects in downtown Utica but that was many worlds away. But my parents had no tolerance for any prejudice or prejudicial talk. It was wrong and absolutely not allowed; they were very clear and raised us well on that.

In New York City in 2008 I think I'm pretty good on the issue but I am far from perfect and the church inspires me to be better. I think this really is a nation of two different countries and it takes a lot of work and talk and change to bring them together and cross the divide. There is so much anger on the issue, from all sides. Everyone has very strong opinions on the subject; after the sermons at two services on race at Judson Church that I have been to, parishioners have stood up and pushed back on what they heard.

I was appalled and depressed by the court decision in April in the Sean Bell case. How can it be OK in New York City to pump fifty bullets into an unarmed black man?

But I am happy to read that the Italian Vogue issue that features all black models is a sell-out at the newsstand. Hats off to photographer Steven Meisel for instigating this project which was produced to counteract the scarcity of black models used in fashion shows, advertising, and editorial. Get a copy if you can. I haven't seen it but it looks crazy beautiful:

The other morning on the V train going to work sitting across from me in the subway car was a mother with two daughters. The mother -- pale white skin, long red hair, not young, maybe European. The daughters -- dark skin, crinkly black hair, one daughter maybe eleven, kind of tall and entering the gawky stage, the other daughter, younger, maybe five, both beautiful. The three of them were kind of intertwined on the seat. I thought there must be a striking dark-skinned father in the picture here. As they stepped off of the train in front of me at Third Avenue I thought why on earth should this family endure for one second any grief because of race. It doesn't make any sense. I think that with Barack Obama, we have an extraordinary, breathtaking opportunity for change.

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