Houses with antenna

It was fun reliving the pleasant childhood memories of early TV, especially the local children’s shows like Zeebo and Uncle Elihu, which, based on the responses I received, every town seemed to have in the 1950s and 60s.

Tomorrow’s story is about less pleasant memories. It recalls a darker time, in more ways than one. Be prepared for language we don’t hear anymore, but which was all too common in an earlier era in America.

It seems preposterous now when I think about it, but the conversation I had with friends one afternoon on the way home from school really happened.

I think about the incident I describe in the context of the recent news about police conduct in Black neighborhoods and the horribly racist rants on President Obama’s new Twitter account, and realize, to my great sadness, that we still aren’t anywhere near the dream of a post-racial society that seemed so tantalizingly close when Obama was first elected.

This story will shock my kids, who thankfully are much less concerned about racial differences than my generation was, but who are nonetheless aware of how racially and economically stratified America still is. They both went to inner-city schools, live in big cities, and their friends are a much more racially diverse group than mine were–or could have been, given the legal apartheid of my youth–when I was growing up.

My hope is, as our generation fades and theirs ascends, that progress toward a truly race-blind country will continue, recent evidence to the contrary. My fear is that it will take many more generations, especially given the direction this country is taking. The dramatic increase in economic disparity, the simultaneous decrease in social and infrastructure spending, and the recent cynical restrictions on voting rights may doom us to an enduringly divided society for the foreseeable future.

But still, we’ve come a very long way in a very short time, as I hope tomorrow’s tale illustrates.