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Musings on the melting pot

I recently attended a conference in Chicago where one of the featured speakers was a well- regarded demographer from the University of North Carolina. According to his research, for the first time ever in the USA, children in the first grade with brown skin, outnumber children with white skin. By his definition, children with brown skin include persons of Native American descent, African descent, Middle Eastern descent, Pacific Islander descent, Hispanic descent, and Asian descent. This is a continuation of the USA being a melting pot. Who among us, except, Native Americans, are not the descendants of immigrants?

Whether or not this is a big deal to white people, should tell a lot about us. All but one of my physicians have brown skin. To many, I could be classified as a benefactor of white privilege. If there is a grain of truth in that premise, the level of health care I have received from medical professionals with brown skin has been a blessing. As a sports fan, would restricting players of color from major league baseball, the NFL, and the NBA make those games more exciting? What threat have Willie Mays, Walter Payton, and Michael Jordan been to the greater good of the USA?

The natural evolution of a dynamic country along these lines could only be a threat to the sad souls who still harbor the myth of white supremacy. If white supremacy were not a myth, why are Asian students over-represented in our finest universities? Why are Hispanic baseball players over-represented in baseball? Why are persons of African descent overrepresented in football? Does anyone really believe this is based upon racial discrimination against white people rather than merit?

If the USA is to continue as a beacon of enlightenment on this earth, it needs to move beyond its history regarding race. Slavery, Manifest Destiny, Chinese exclusion laws, Jim Crow laws and genocide of Native Americans are undeniable scars. The other side of the coin is that there are many things for which Americans of any color can and should be proud. We all have the capacity to evolve. The world around us continues to change. Whether or not we do as individuals, is a matter of personal choice. Divisive rhetoric about the subject of race is protected by the First Amendment. I believe in free speech even if it is divisive. The right to display our ignorance is fundamental so long as it does not cause a threat of immediate bodily harm. That is what our own North Dakota Supreme Court has ruled. In an opinion on that subject, our Supreme Court commented that boorish behavior in and of itself is free speech. We are fee to do and say a lot of things that are questionable. If boorish behavior comes back to haunt us, whom should we blame?

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Jim Maxson

Mr. Maxson is a retired Minot attorney, former ND State Senator representing Minot's 3rd District from 1986-1994, and former ND Democratic National Committeeman from 2000-2008. He speaks two languages, English and Metaphor, and is cursed by a long memory.

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