Friday, May 16, 2014

Brown v. Board and Three Dog Night's "Black and White"

I was first drawn to Three Dog Night's 1972 rendition of "Black and White" by the lyrics. Here is the opening verse: 

The ink is black
The page is white
Together we learn to read and write
The child is black
The child is white
The whole world looks upon the sight
The beautiful sight

The words spoke to my appreciation of ethnic diversity and reflected the truth that racism is learned behavior (and its corollary that bigotry would diminish as new generations of Americans transcended their parents' prejudices). 

The appeal to brotherhood was typical of the early '70s, a time of great social change when a soulful song with an important universal message could reach number one on the Billboard charts.

"Black and White" was written by David I. Arkin and Earl Robinson in 1954, spurred on by the Supreme Court's watershed Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which ended legal segregation in public education.

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Brown today, it's easy to be skeptical about the prospects for social and political evolution in America's near future. The election (and re-election) of a mild-mannered black president has spawned legions of white Tea Party faux patriots and an upsurge in militia membership. Fox News has a propaganda grip on a not-so-discerning one third of the country. And dirty corporate money continues to corrode our political system and block human progress

But underneath the plutocrats, reactionaries, and low-information voters is a tolerant, enlightened America which has the potential to live up to its ideals. As Brown showed, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” 


Other civil rights writing by Dan Benbow:

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Road to the Mountaintop (about the speech King gave on the last night of his life)

Honest Abe Makes Sausage (a review of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln")

Actions, Not Words (a life review of Ollie Matson, an Olympic medal winner, NFL Hall-of-Famer, civil rights trailblazer, and good citizen) 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

This video combines two of my favorite artists:  
Charles Bukowski and Tom Waits. 

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.


 more Bukowski on "Truth and Beauty"