Sunday, September 21, 2008


Washington's Dunbar high school quit a football game they were leading against a high school in Cumberland, Maryland because of racial taunts.

"They were trying to upset us, calling my guys the N-word. I had one guy in tears. I had to take him off the field," Jefferies said, adding that as he walked with his team to the locker room he was verbally accosted with slurs. He said the team was forced to stay in the locker room for 30 minutes while police established a secure path for the team to board its buses.

Think about the negative reverberations an ugly incident like that can have in those young peoples' lives. Welcome to christian conservative America boys. Just stay down.

A family friend of ours died the other day after an eight month struggle with cancer. We attended her funeral yesterday. She was my daughter's first friend when we moved to New York and my wife and her mother became friends as well. The girl was 16 years old.

Her drawn out death turned into one of those otherwise uplifting stories you hear about. She maintained a positive attitude and fought it all the way. She became closer with her family and classmates and brightened the lives of her hospital mates. She was a genuinely beautiful individual in every way.

Her family is from Haiti, so I didn't know what to expect at the funeral. I thought it possible that there would be some profound cultural differences between a Haitian family's rites and those of my own family from the midwest. I was right about that,but it didn't have anything to do with voodoo or naked emotion or anything like that. Basically, it was the same except that everyone present acted with a great deal of class. I think it was the first funeral I've been to where at least two people didn't do something to embarass themselves and cause a family rift that would never be healed.

That, and just about everyone was very well dressed. Back where I'm from, most people wear their best Levis or the more fashion conscious among them don their cowboy clothes. The only poorly dressed people at this funeral were some of the dead girl's white classmates and my own son John Bob. On the morning of the funeral, we were shocked to find out that he had no clothes that were remotely appropriate. He ended up going in cargo pants, tennis shoes, and a hoodie. I guess we were the biggest embarrassment.

Another huge difference was the production values. Comparing it to a midwestern funeral is like comparing a Broadway play to a 2nd grade production. They had a keyboard player, a drummer, a choir, and a couple American Idol caliber guest singers. The preachers were very good. Just about the only thing Haitian about it was that there was that the service was bilingual. Two preachers would alternate between English and French. They made it work very well.

The only downer was the next to final preacher. He was an African American from the church where the service was being held and he apparently knew nothing about the girl or her family. He did the fire and brimstone crap just like the country preachers do at the worst funerals back home. Then he suckered some poor saps into pledging their lives for Jesus, made them come up to the front and hug while he kept on talking and talking and talking, then asked them to come downstairs after the service to receive a special gift. I was pleased to see that very few people got up, even though he implored us a lot and threatened us with hell and damnation if we didn't find Jesus. Stupid fuckwit. But what can you do?

Anyway, it wasn't about him, or us, or fashion, or family comportment. It was about the poor young girl who died so tragically and her grieving family. You would not want to feel the sadness that was in that room.

And it especially hurts when I think of that girl and her family and the other people at that funeral. How she lived her life. How they live theirs. And then to think of those racist scumbag at that high school football game and the small town values that they hurl at those poor black kids. I'm from a small town and I can tell you this. Small town values suck.