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-----Original Message-----
From: David Boulton []
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2002 1:01 AM
Subject: Deanna 2-1-2002 - THE COLOR OF FRIENSHIP

Deanna had watched the end of a Disney Channel movie called the ‘Color of Friendship’ and was very moved by the 1986 era of race relations in South Africa as brought into focus in the heart-struggling relationship between a young white girl from the US and her ‘sister-friend’ a same aged girl of color. Deanna was really moved by something the black girls father had said. “People who treat people that way do so because they were taught to do so”. 

Deanna: Why do some white people treat not white people so badly?

Dad: Why do you think?

Deanna: I don’t know?

Dad: Do you ever treat people badly?

Deanna: Yes but not like that – what does someone’s color have to do with it?

Dad: Its for the same reasons you do, when you do, but why its about people from Africa is a long story. Do you want to go into that story?

Deanna: Yes, lets do.

After talking for a while about the reason people have different skin colors. We embarked on a media journey that began with parts of the movie the “Power of One”. The opening written prelude said:

“In the 1680s Dutch, French, Germans fled religious persecution in Europe and settled in Southern Africa. They called themselves Afrikaners, White Africans.”

As we read this…

Deanna: What does it mean “fled religious persecution”?

We went off for about 10 minutes on a tour of Christianity and the church and how between the rule of Kings and the rule of the Church life was hard on people not born noble enough to be appreciated by either. How the kings and the churches used people who were less fortunate to do all their dirty work. How, throughout history people have left their homes and known worlds and took great risks to move to places they thought would allow them greater freedom. Freedom from being controlled by the beliefs and values of those in power – freedom from the feeling of being ‘owned’.

This led us to get out the atlas and see how pilgrims came to America, Africa and Australia to escape the tyranny they were forced to live in at home. How people split off from their home peoples in order to be free enough to think and feel for themselves.

We began reading again from the movie “For the next 250 years, the British Empire fought the Afrikaners for control of the land, the gold and 20 million Native Africans.”

Deanna: 250 years!? How could a war last that long? Why would they do it?

We talked briefly about the difference between modern war and the kind of war that could happen 300 years ago with the parties ½ a planet away from each other. Then as to why, we talked about the idea of being ‘owned’ to which, upon imaging, Deanna shuttered.  We talked about how some people could think of other people as some ‘thing’ they owned and why some people, like the kings and churches before them, justified keeping their slaves because the cost of owning and keeping slaves was much cheaper than the cost of paying for labor on their farms and/or for their servants.  Some people think that taking care of their personal economic interests comes before considering the consequences of doing so to others. How, in America how that led to the civil war.

Deanna: why would Americans go to war about keeping slaves?

Dad: Imagine someone came to our island and said no more cars and no more TVs? How would you feel?

Deanna: How could someone come in and tell us that. I don’t like what cars do to the planet but I don’t want to have to walk. And no one can take away our TVs!

Dad: Well that’s how the people of the south felt about the people in the north telling them they couldn’t keep their slaves. They depended on the slaves to make money – to do all the work without it costing them much. If they lost their slaves they felt their entire way of life would crumble. Many knew that having slaves was wrong at one level but they felt their lives depended on keeping them.

We went back to watching the first few minutes of this movie which begins in 1930. After she sees the brutal, ugliness of the way white people were treating black people…

Deanna: If that’s the way it was then what changed to make things better – like they are now?

I paused the movie. Got out the video tapes of the “Greatest Moments of the 20th Century” and ABC news production from the History Channel. Peter Jennings comes on to tell the story of black America in the early 50s and then describes the two forces that most effected our growth through the racial barrier of those times: the episode called ‘Memphis Dreams’ the stories of Elvis and Martin Luther King Jr. – what he described as the ‘Sound and the Fury’ that changed the world and opened the doors to our modern era of ‘friends of color’.

 After a few minutes of that intro we were about to jump to a scene from “Amistad” when her mother called.

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