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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Politics: The Politics of Colour

Photo from YWCA of South Hampton Roads

The things one learns from reading!

Not that we here at Casa de Los Gatos think that the long and awful legacy of racism will be eliminated simply by posting saccharine pictures of cute little girls. Blame Ozu Yasujiro for the saccharine. We watched another of his movies last night.

At any event, while reading the story of the estimable Donald, later Tun Haji Mohammad Fuad, Stephens (which we didn't originally want to read, not having room for information about Sabah in our crowded reading schedule), we came across this gem:
In April of 1959, Tunku Abdullah (son of the Yang di Pertuan Agung), at the invitation of the State Department of the United States, toured the US in his capacity of both a leader in the youth movement and a civil servant.


During the two-month visit, the pair (the Tunku and Tun Fuad) visited New Orleans in Louisiana, and were feted to a sumptuous lunch hosted by the Governor. After the meal, the Tunku said he needed to use the washroom and an official took him down to a landing with two signs. One said "Whites" the other "Coloreds." The official led him toward the "Whites" restroom, but the Tunku protested, saying: "No, no, I am colored." The official insisted that he use the restroom reserved for the whites but the Tunku was adamant that he was a person of coloured skin. The official gave up and allowed him to use the Colored's washroom. Donald Stephens was pleased when the Tunku told him of what happened, saying he would have done the same. The Tunku felt that if the southern Whites insisted on segregating the Blacks, then this would only lead to their (the Whites) ultimate embarrasment.
We here at Casa de Los Gatos are really pleased too by this charming little anecdote. We have never understood racism and colorism, and eagerly anticipate the day when it is no more. Even if we all have to be, as in Ursula K. LeGuin's great book, The Lathe of Heaven, a uniform gray. We'd hate it, but we'd rather have that than what we have now.

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At 12:54 AM, Blogger Chuck Butcher said...

I don't know about grey, it'd be boring. America has so many shades and so much input from the differing perspectives (yes some horrid ones) that we'd lose something of inestimable value. I am primarily English, German, and Dutch with a history stretching back to New Amsterdam and a Tory/Revolutionary family split, there is something in all that as there is in anyone's history. I am a huge fan of the blues, where would that be w/o some damn unfortunate situations? I know you were being facetious...but we need to grow up and that's not done without challeges, some of them very unfair.


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