Perpetual Conflict
12 January, 2012
Perpetual Conflict

Late Saturday evening at Roman’s Cafe in Baltimore in a warm company of my old friends, cozily eating, drinking, and chatting away – what else could I have wished for a regular human happiness?

 

But there is always something looming out there to get in your way. At Roman’s you easily strike up a light conversation with a well-wishing straggler, who is willing to keep up the BS you are suggesting. Next to us a full-bodied youngish black woman was sipping

at her beer can, sprawling over three chairs in front of a TV set, feeling herself very much at home as we all did. It all began with a quick exchange of unobtrusive words and thoughts on the comedy which was flicking on the box at that very moment.

Unnoticeably, the simple spontaneous interaction grew into an embittered discourse, and ended up in a typical black-and-white verbal skirmish, including issues like crippled public transportation in America which keeps the black people from comfortably visiting their relatives, the scarcity of a chance for African Americans to make their own money and not be dependent on government pork, the dysfunctional inner-city school system in the country, Michelle Obama being abusively called monkey on the internet, the illegal immigrants being a pain in the butt, and the propensity of democrats to whisk America down the abyss of socialism. On the whole, the crux of the already angered discussion was the perpetually unmitigated conflict between a conservative white and a liberal black, the former rejecting the pandemic inveterate black indolence and the latter insisting on the historic stance of whites to disadvantage the blacks.

It took the sides only fifteen minutes to turn the lovely accidental trifling into a fiercely politicized talk with not even a tinge of mutual tolerance and understating. And who were the sides? Four white men and women and one black lady who had presented herself as a person with law degree. The degree did not help; neither did the latent white fear of involuntarily hurting the oversensitive and cantankerous blacks.

The oil was already in fire – the conflict seemed to be in making! As a matter of fact, there was nothing, nothing at all about our white group to drive the black single player out of the room but she demonstratively left the place with an uncovered indignation at those vainglorious white monsters who had invaded Roman’s Cafe although the place happens to be exclusively white. It was obvious that she got out of the kitchen because she could no longer take the heat – the conversation was acquiring the meaning, clearly conducive to a very unhappy end. This is exactly where I understood that the genuine racial reconciliation in America was a matter of a long-run social, economic, political and psychological effort. Well, we all know where the chronically brewing racist anger comes from, but we have no idea of how long it may keep lingering so viciously on. I have a painful feeling in my diminishing bones that if this black-and-white anger does not fade away someday soon, it may kill America. Easy! So where is the way out? Even the greatest of currently functioning American politicians or political theoreticians will not have a concrete reasonable answer.

The problem is vibrant, incisive and glaring. Centuries are passing, and blacks and whites are not mixing naturally in America. It is just an illusion that they have started getting along with each other perfectly well. They are simply being smart enough to be abiding by law and ethics, but a human contact between them is not yet natural and ubiquitous. It is coming though – hopefully! There certainly are mixed marriages and friendships, but they are not as commonplace as America might want them to be. Sure, these are not the times of Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, but their deeds have not yet taken deep enough roots here. The mischief is still out there!


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