A year before the birth of Barack Obama, John Steinbeck bought a pickup truck, named it “Rocinante” and went looking for America. His final book, Travels with Charley (1962,) is a journal of his thoughts and memories as he drove that pickup 10,000 miles across 38 states looking back across the years of a lifetime.
Steinbeck remembers an incident that happened during the 1940s:
“I lived then in a small brick house in Manhattan, and, being for the moment solvent, employed a Negro. Across the street and on the corner there was a bar and restaurant. One winter dusk when the sidewalks were iced I stood in my window looking out and saw a tipsy woman come out of the bar, slip on the ice, and fall flat. She tried to struggle up but slipped and fell again and lay there screaming maudlinly. At that moment the Negro who worked for me came around the corner, saw the woman, and instantly crossed the street, keeping as far from her as possible.
When he came in I said, 'I saw you duck. Why didn't you give that woman a hand?'
'Well, sir, she's drunk and I'm Negro. If I touched her she could easy scream rape, and then it's a crowd, and who believes me?'
'It took quick thinking to duck that fast.'
'Oh, no sir!' he said. 'I've been practicing to be a Negro a long time.'”
Ten months ago, Wizard Academy's Dr. Oz Jaxxon gathered a dozen unlikely candidates in Tuscan Hall to begin a 2-year discussion on Racism. Is it a continuing problem or a distant memory? If it exists, what can be done about it? Is racial tension the white man's burden to bear alone, or do whites have legitimate complaints of their own?
It may have been the most insane thing we've ever done as an organization. The group was Black, White and Latino, Gay and Straight, Liberal and Conservative, Religious and Agnostic, Bombastic and Shy, Streetwise and Embarrassingly Naïve. There were moments during those 3 days when I was tempted to stick the key in the ignition of my own Rocinante and drive quickly and quietly away.
Whose idiotic idea was this, anyway?
Miraculously (and with no help or encouragement from me, I must confess,) the group stayed in touch with each other and worked through dozens of technical and budgetary problems to launch a blog, InsideFromTheInside.com.
I'm extremely proud of these alumni. You should take a look at what they're doing.
Roy H. Williams
Have you seen what's coming up at Wizard Academy?