I was raised in the 1960s and 1970s. My parents taught me, in no uncertain terms, to consider individuals through a lens that evaluated their character, not their skin color. When I didn’t, my attitude was “adjusted” and I am thankful for their unyielding insistence on that issue.
I remember all too clearly the evening when my Father returned home from his office the day he found one of his best friends – a Black man – dead on the office floor. He was devastated. Eddie Kaine was more than an employee to my Father. Each day as he arrived at his fledgling business – a new and struggling metal manufacturing company – he was greeted by Mr. Kaine. Each morning they took the time to have a cup of coffee, or two, and discuss family, life, and current events. It was irrelevant that my Father was the boss and Mr. Kaine was the custodian. Both men looked upon each other with respect; as family men both struggling to achieve so as to take care of their respective families. They were men of equal honor talking like the friends that they were.
Many times, my Father would confer with his friend on business realities that weighed heavily on my Father’s mind. Many times the common sense advice that Mr. Kaine offered my Father – as a friend – was advise that helped to ease my Father’s mind. I like to think that it was out of the catalyst of their friendship that my Father was moved to institute a profit sharing plan that included all of his employees. Mind you, this was in a day and age when such things were considered revolutionary. The harder everyone worked – from the custodian to the CEO – the more everyone would financially benefit; capitalism at its purest; everyone has “skin in the game.”
On the day that my Father arrived home from the office after having found Mr. Kaine dead on the floor from a heart attack – the water for their morning pot of coffee together spilled across the floor – I could see, even at my young age, the heartbreak a man feels for the loss of a great friend. He was devastated and at a loss. He made arrangements for Mr. Kaine’s family to be provided for and lumbered through the grieving process; a process which not only took a long time to complete (if it ever did), but one that taught my Sister and I an important lesson. Skin color doesn’t matter. Character matters.
I carry that experience with me today as I travel the road that is my life. I have had the pleasure to have performed with some of the most talented and revered jazz musicians the art form has to offer, most of them Black. I have worked, played, entertained, debated and counseled with Blacks, Latinos, Europeans, Asians, Indians and American Indians, many of whom have been very dear to me, not because of a superficial tally of acquired racial diversity, but because of the elevated level of character I demand of myself in choosing who I call friend. In each instance the idea of skin color was non-existent. We appreciated each other for our talents, our character, our knowledge, our counsel and our developing friendships. Over the years I have been graced to have been able to call many of these old friends “family,” if only in the extended definition.
So, pardon me if I believe that Eric Holder and his race-baiting, activist agenda have harmed the United States; have done an incredible disservice to the multiple generations who have already risen above the stain of racism. I find it pathetic and unintelligent that Mr. Holder is so stained by the inequities of eras past; so stained in the blood of racism that no longer exists in mainstream America (but for the corners of our society where it will never be expunged), that he wears racism like a birthmark; never to be removed, always an identifier to who he is. Sadly, or perhaps ironically, it is the very racism of Mr. Holder and his ilk that feeds the racism that exists in the extreme corners of our country. One would think an educated person like Mr. Holder would understand this. Or, perhaps he does understand this and rising above racism was never his true agenda...perhaps.
So, as the Progressives amongst us celebrate the end of the tenure of our first Black Attorney General, I weep for our nation and the American culture. Mr. Holder and his racist, biased, activist pals have set race relations back almost 50 years, and for what, retribution? Payback? So another generation can “feel the pain”?
To all of those who have existed on this planet blind to racism and acutely dedicated to evaluating a person by their character over their skin color, I say stay the course; teach your children; be the example that would serve to influence all generations to come. Condemn thuggish behavior from all who exhibit it – regardless of the color of their skin, and hold dear to you people of good character, loyalty and friendship, like my Father held dear to Eddie Kaine.
As for Eric Holder and his gaggle of race-baiting dividers, it is they who are the real cowards. Goodbye and good riddance. May our culture heal from your poisons.