Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Life Is Worth Waiting For

For a Southern black man like my father, watching Barack Obama inch closer to the Democratic nomination is a big deal. In fact, it's monumental.

Born in 1927, my dad joined the military in order to leave behind a life divided by black and white. In the backwoods Texas town where he grew up, both blacks and Mexicans were lynched without any intervention by local law enforcement. His escape was the U.S. Army, but what he found there was just more more segregation.

Forced into the "colored" unit, he thought it ironic to be stationed in countries like the Philippines, Japan and Korea where the locals didn't even know that they should be prejudiced against blacks since they'd never seen any before. But the military bigwigs took care of that by imposing their own racism on the natives. By designating which local eateries should feed only whites, and which ones only blacks, they guaranteed that Americans wouldn't be the only folks imposing segregation by race.

In the 81 years since my father's birth, major changes have taken place in this country. As a kid, my dad (along with all of his schoolmates) was forced to pick cotton without pay by local Caucasian plantation owners. Today, my father can look at a television set and see someone near his skin shade running in the primary for the presidency of the U.S.

Sometimes life is worth waiting for.

Your Hip Hapa,

P.S. That's my father in the photo above in his Army days.

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