WHITE ...in a world of color Because my mother worked 60-80 hours a week I was "raised" (when not in boarding school) by maids. Many of these were black women and the most affecting was Arabelle Brown who had no children and lived in our house. She indulged my food cravings like the stereotypical doting mother. She would arrange the household budget to include T-bone steaks for my lunch and her apple dumplings (made only for me) are a most cherished memory. She also let me know, without seeming to try, that the outside world had enormous misconceptions about the capabilities of Black people. Peer pressure kept me from espousing this concept at school or play - being called a "nigger lover" carried ostracism as well as hurt. My inner conclusions seemed unassailable - still do. In those days the acceptable designation was "colored" and colored musicians were clearly superior to their white counterparts. It was an age when Benny Goodman was the "King of Swing" but his band was a pale imitation of the Lunceford band. Marian Anderson was denied access to the DAR auditorium. A colored person invited to the White House was regarded as yet another nail in the coffin of The American Way. I cried in joy when Althea Gibson won at Wimbledon, raged at the news of Medgar Evers' murder and became a baseball fan because Jackie Robinson "broke the color line." I finally got over being ashamed of being white but I still feel we are drowning in racist mire. The debate about this matter has been "all the rage" for all of my life and so much has been written that what I may add will probably not shed much new heat or light on the issue. I still believe in integration, whatever that is. When I read Mezz Mezzrow's "Really the Blues" it was one of the first times I knew that some white guys (tried to?) lived in the Black culture. When he went to prison he insisted he was "colored" so he could live in the correct environment. Even Elvis Presley is basically trying to sound black. During the civil rights movement it was a widespread argument that "our nigrahs" were OK with their lot but these "outside agitators" were the real problem. The next generation acknowledges that as error but has the same set of denials concerning "welfare queens" or immigrants. Even Native Americans are descendants of immigrants and we are all on welfare. Jackie Robinson pointed out that "baseball did it," meaning that human rights laws weren't the big items that cause changes. Michael Jordan is one of the world's most recognized (and admired) people on the planet as is Muhammad Ali. The influence on music, sports, attitude, language, and human relationships brought to us by people who "came in chains" has been enormous. There are so many examples of African-American influence that it is still a puzzle how long it is taking to overcome the counterproductive action/reaction of prejudice and its machismo backlash. I have no solutions that aren't reprises of Judeo-Christian ethical positions. How to move from the "Love thy neighbor" talk to the "Do unto others" walk eluded us for a couple of millennia - but it's better than it was. At least I hope and think so. One powerful factor in this healing is public service. As the spectator class proliferates, it is evident that each generation produces more of us who find the Black experience seductive. Politicians are performers in the entertainment industry. Perhaps the kind of charisma that is so obvious in other endangerment figures will let us suffer the benefits of African-American leaders. When you become blindless, you really won't give a shit about skin color. If we can continue the many-to-many intercommunication that is flooding us, we may yet have a meritocracy.