I Love a Parade

"Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup."
                                       -- Crowded House (1986)

As Kansans, do we take a little more ownership than others in civil rights? Our cultural infrastructure is infused with blood, shed in the struggle for freedom and equality. A century later, some judges said a little Topeka girl did not have to go to a school that was not equal. On the heels of Brown vs. Board of Education, my generation lived a means to that end.

When I was in 7th grade, the Wichita school board decided that plucking a handful of kids from the comforts of suburbia and shipping them to the inner city (and vice-versa) was a wise tactic in a larger strategy aimed at racial integration.

Welcome to the Land of Baloney on White Bread with Miracle Whip.

Now, assimilate.

Visit Pleasant Valley today and you'll see the demographic panoply of 21st century American society. If the desired outcome of busing was to prime the diversity pump, one can make a compelling case that it worked.

Today’s civil rights struggle is marriage equality.

I’m not a lawyer and I’m not smart enough (stupid enough?) to predict how the U.S. Supreme Court will rule. However, comma, (My high school yearbook teacher at Wichita Heights would say that out loud: “However, comma.” I still do.) However, comma, when your government is of, by and for the people, it will – by design – react to the people.

Sometime soon, the high court may strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. It may overturn California’s Proposition 8. Regardless of the specific case, it’s just the means to an end.

And when they do, the ruling will be a reflection of the people.

By 1954, when the Warren court ruled on Brown, the Plessy v. Ferguson fig leaf had shrunk to the point where there was simply no moral argument left to defend ‘separate but equal’ education for black kids and white kids.

Civil rights is a march.

Look around. The parade is passing by.

An entire generation of Americans is baffled and asks, “Why is this even a question?”

In my Manhattan Mercury, this Sunday morning alone:

- A new city commissioner (elected Tuesday) says the city should look at ways of changing the mindset of the community over LGBT discrimination.

- A former Baltimore Ravens linebacker says a handful of NFL players may soon come out.

- A land grant university in New Jersey is imploding because of a basketball coach’s homophobic ignorance.

Funny quirk about democracy. When the people lead, their government tends to follow. Politicians (the president, Hillary Clinton, Rob Portman) put a stake in the ground. Ideas and concepts become mainstream.

Chief Justices of the Supreme Court tend to be pretty astute observers of American society and even though they’re not elected, don’t kid yourself, they’re as political as anyone in Washington. That’s the thing about Chief Justices. They don’t like to be on the wrong side of history.

I can’t get inside the man’s head and heart, but I can draw inferences and conclusions based on my observations and experience. If John Roberts wants 22nd century Americans to remember a Roberts Court the way my generation remembers the Warren Court (champions of racial equality...)

If the highest court in the land can say recounting votes in Florida violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment – and still sleep at night, then there oughta be plenty of room to stand behind the equal protection clause for something as consequential as, say, equal protection.

So I have faith in the system. Borne from experience. I have seen it work in my lifetime in Kansas. I see the system working again.

My role as one of the people?

Simple.

To be engaged. To care. To vote for presidents, governors, lawmakers, city commissioners and school board members who, in their hearts, “get” this of, by and for the people business.

I’m done here. I think I’ll go pursue some happiness.