No Angel Food, No Devil's Food ... Just Caramel

By Marc Dion

April 2, 2012 4 min read

Hoodies aside (so the bank's security camera can see your face), the recent Florida shooting of an African-American by a non-African-American makes a couple points.

I call the shooter a non-African-American to make one of those points. The shooter was half Hispanic. When I was a young man, we did not consider Hispanics to be white. We didn't really consider Jews to be white, either, whatever their skin shade. Italians were shaky, too.

But we think a half-Hispanic guy is white now.

The kid that got killed? Definitely African-American. That still sticks.

But if you're of a certain age, you can't help but wonder at half-Hispanics (what the press calls him) defending American stand-your-ground-with-a-gun values.

When I was a kid, the big Florida blowup would have been, in the words of the men my father hung out with, "a spic shootin' a spade," and no trouble of theirs.

But the white people club keeps getting bigger. Hispanics, if they're making enough money and speak English well, are edging their way into the white people club. The taboo white Americans used to maintain against marrying Asians is nearly gone, and if your marriageable daughter comes home with a Jew, only one aged, half-blind aunt will bother to crack jokes about money or big noses.

Almost all of the people at the tippity-top of the economic pyramid are still piney woods white, but rich people have their own race.

So where's that leave us?

Well, in the middle to lower levels of the economy, black and white (even honorary middle-class half-Hispanic whites) are still tooth-to-tooth, scrambling for whatever remains of America after the union jobs are gone.

But the poor, who are always shabbily riding the first edge of culture change, they're breeding with each other, regardless of color. Whites are getting darker. Blacks are getting lighter. Beans and rice are being served at a lot of Thanksgiving dinners because junior married a Mexican girl.

And that'll spread upward, as do most things the poor do first. That's why your white boy kid is listening to hip-hop and saying "aiight" when you tell him to do something. That's why you wore platform shoes in high school, and it's why your grandpa owned a zoot suit and some Duke Ellington records.

The press still likes "black vs. white" stories because they're easy to understand, they don't honk off the rich people who screw Americans of every color, and because it lets the most timid of editorial writers feel as though he and Martin Luther King are marching straight into a line of swag-bellied, nightstick-swinging, redneck Alabama cops.

Well, I don't sing "We Shall Overcome" much, myself. Hip-hop rules the streets now, and if black guys rap it, white kids buy it, try to walk it and talk it and wear it to school.

It's still black killing white, and it's still white killing black, and it's still edgy looks on the street and fear and scuffed-up little people hanging onto a neighborhood or a block or a job, and it's still hard words and hard feelings.

But not all the blood that counts is leaking out of somebody onto the sidewalk. There's blood in people, too, and a lot of that blood is mixing into IrishItalianPuertoRicanBlackAlbanianChinese people who are going to be America, if not before my 54-year-old pale white self dies, then shortly thereafter.

Once everybody has one African-American grandmother and one Asian-American grandfather and a Hispanic wife, it's gonna get a lot tougher to spit out those old, hard words.

America's race problems are old, old, old, hashed out in legislatures and on battlefields, in squad rooms, boardrooms, barrooms and courtrooms.

It'd be something if they got solved in the bedroom.

To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com

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