Humans do everything badly. The ideas start out well – full integration of Black people into the culture – which almost immediately end with knife fights and a race war in the streets. On television these days, which I only watch walking by the tv room, almost all the people in ads are black and most of the couples are mixed-race. Same with the current throwaway entertainment on the subscription networks. In Canada, 3.5% of us are black, but that’s ok, advertising is following the virtuous path, it is far past time that everyone participate in the joys of a prosperous and safe family life.Our lizard selves need to see it. It’s what that sentimental nighttime soap – This is Us – is all about. This is Us is our intangible dream.
So yesterday I found myself on Glennon Doyle’s site watching her speak to an audience of educated, middle-aged, well heeled, (and above all secure) mostly white women at UC Berkeley, about how it’s so great they are finally waking up to the fact that the lives of black women are harder. There was the usual Trump hate, but one is used to that from the tolerant and inclusive who are tolerant and inclusive of everyone but half the county, who are evil, racist and racist evil. But mostly Doyle tells them they, the prosperous, are guilty, they must feel the pain of their guilt and can only find redemption through ally-ship of the Black community. As an example, media stars on Instagram have been assiduously promoting the work of Black women artists and crafts women.
What took them so long? Let’s think. Boomers were entirely occupied by their generation’s most pressing issues, family foundation, jobs, paying for university educations, children. Those not on that path careened off the rails into self-indulgence wrapped in spiritual seeking and/or the arts. Women in that generation poured into the work force, which triggered spectacular social change. Now these women are retired, and vigorous and ready to make the world a better place.
This is how democratic capitalism works. As prosperity increases, more marginal groups are brought into the circle of light. And as women did, as they joined in, they created more prosperity. However, it was hard, filled with conflict and hard. Gay people came next, and their talents and sensibilities have enhanced our lives considerably. And now people of color are making a play. You can mock middle class family life all you want, but for 4 billion people, it is their central dream.
Prior to the 60’s, in the Anglosphere, intensive charitable work was expected, no, demanded from everyone with any pretence to adulthood. The quickest route to a job or promotion was through proving yourself in the community by building something that truly helped. That truth is not represented in any literature now being read, but it was and is the ineluctable fact of, the key to the well-lived life. Glennon Doyles’ audience and its clear need to help, makes me think that is coming back.