Thursday, October 20, 2011

haiku retrospective ccxliii

old hometown
the corner soda fountain
now a starbucks

in berkeley
they spell "milky way"
MLK jr Way

Martin Luther King Junior is a saint in Berkeley, both for his dream of racial harmony and his use of nonviolence. Berkeley was one of the earliest school districts to practice busing for the purposes of racial integration. Most of us went into integration with high ideals, which were tested by the reality of trying to mix two cultures by force.

king junior high
color wars
hiding my telltale face

Race relations weren't always amicable in the first years after integration, but most of us tried. Most kids were nice, and wanted to be friendly, but we were also scared, and knew that you couldn't rub the color off your face.

the nice black girl
tells my japanese friend
they won't attack the chinese

When I was in the Berkeley schools, the population was 45% white, 40% black, and 15% Asian. In that time, in the 70s, there were uneasy relations between Asians and blacks. Asians were a minority, so there was some fellow feeling, but they emulated white customs, so they were often called "bananas" (yellow on the outside, white on the inside) by people to whom "oreo" was the worst insult in their vocabulary.

old hometown
a rainbow of faces
on the streets

Going back to Berkeley, I feel like I'm home because there are people of every color on the streets. I don't realize until I go back how much I miss living in a diverse multi-cultural community.

25 January 2003

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