Blackbird singing in the dead of night

The title is from a line of The Beatles song “Blackbird” which is a tribute to the struggle for African-Americans for their civil rights. The song was sung by Paul McCartney with writing credits to both him and John Lennon, although McCartney was the lead.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Here is what McCartney said about the origin of the song in an interview in 2002.

“I’ve got a poetry book out called Blackbird Singing…..I was in Scotland playing on my guitar, and I remembered this whole idea of ‘you were only waiting for this moment to arise’ was about, you know, the black people’s struggle in the southern states, and I was using the symbolism of a blackbird. It’s not really about a blackbird whose wings are broken, you know, it’s a bit more symbolic.”

I added McCartney’s quote as I wanted the clarity around what the song means. African-Americans are still fighting an uphill struggle for their civil rights. What has happened in Ferguson, Cleveland, New Jersey, Charleston, Charlotte and Baltimore is tragic, but evidence of the disenfranchisement of African-Americans. The lack of opportunity, the malaise, the maltreatment, the deterioration of the neighborhood, the lack of respect given to people of color in our country continues.

I have noted before that Warren Buffett has said he was born lucky. He was born a white male in America. All three components of that phrase are important – white, male and America. Yes, he worked hard, but he was afforded opportunities that African-Americans do not get.  Not only do many whites like me have a hard time knowing the challenges of being black, but we also do not fully realize the advantages of being white. As I wrote recently, as a white man, there are not too many places I cannot go no matter how I am dressed. But, there are far too many stories of how a black man can be dressed in his Sunday best, yet still be stopped by the police and think “be careful as this may be the last thing I do on earth.”

I would encourage three things. First, please do not look at those committing violence and rioting as indicative of the African-American community. The community knows this is not the path forward. Second, people who look like me need to do our best to understand the challenges we have in America for people of color, but also for all people in poverty. Third, as always, talk is cheap. These issues are complex and solutions have to address many underlying concerns. There are no sound byte answers as some politicians have espoused.

I mention this last point as we must address the wide disparity in American between the “haves” and “have-nots.” This is not just an African-American issue. It is an American issue, as most people on food stamps are white. Please re-read this previous sentence. Poverty exists in urban areas, in rural areas and even in the suburbs. We have to stop the “war on poor people” and make this a “war on poverty.”

We must invest in our infrastructure and deteriorated assets repurposing them. This will spawn jobs as well in places where it is needed. We must revise our minimum wage to be consistent with a living wage for one person, which varies, but is just over $10 an hour. We must invest in education at all levels. We must embrace the Affordable Care Act as it is helping so many people and fully implement it through Medicaid expansion in the remaining 20 odd states. For some politicians to say we have a poverty problem and be against the ACA is hypocritical and shortsighted, especially when it is working pretty well.

Remember McCartney’s words and lets help these folks with broken wings learn to fly. To do otherwise, goes against what our country is all about and any of the teachings found in religious texts.

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Blackbird singing in the dead of night

  1. My best friend, in the world, ever is a wonderful black woman just a few years younger than I. we’ve been friends almost 40 years. Smart, intelligent, hard working, compassionate, focused, well dressed, well educated and presents herself in a professional manner. Lives in a very good neighborhood. Son graduated near the top of his class at Santa Clara University, after 4 years on a full ride scholarship. This didn’t happen because my friend was indifferent to his schooling and education. Took an active part in his schooling, to the point where the superintendent put her on the administration payroll to help other students and parents.

    yet even after all this, I still cringe when she shares some stories of the things and attitudes that she has had to face over the years. And we’re talking about northern California here, not the deep south of Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana.

    Anyone claiming there is a level playing field, that everyone has an equal chance of success, that there is no discrimination in employment, salary, housing or even day to day living, is either blind, stupid, or unconscious.

    Great post

    • Barney, this is a great example of how these biases affect the best of people raising their family in the right way. Thanks for sharing this. BTG

  2. Note to Readers: Thanks for all the good comments. I was watching Charlie Rose’s recap of the week show last night and he had on the most famous mother (and her son) in Baltimore who found and made her son leave the site of the rioting. It reminded me of a comment that I have made before, but should be made here. Not enough parents are like this woman, who told her son not to go down there and when he did, she went and got him back. One reason is too many parents are having children before they are ready, in their teens and while in high school.

    There is a high correlation between family size and poverty. Also having a child before you are ready to mentally and physically provide for that child places that child on a road to remain in poverty. Part of breaking the cycle is birth control and education. Girls need to know that it need not be an esteem issue to have sex or have a child (some see it as a right of passage). Girls need to be taught it is OK and the should say no. Boys should be taught to be more respectful of girls and no means no. Either way, condoms and other birth control means need to be available to the young. It is more than fine to teach abstinence, but kids are tempted and will have sex. So, we must protect them.

    I believe religion is behind the eight ball on this issue and need to get ahead of it. When over 90% of Catholic American women ignore the church on birth control, that should be telling the leaders something. The same holds true in other religions. I have advocated that even churches should teach sex education if they do it in a holistic way – abstinence, esteem and control, as the first two will not work for many. By the way, esteem includes telling the guy that this is not happening unless you wear this.

  3. Note to Readers: Someone commented in a separate forum that while they were more of a “Sex Pistols” fan, the use of The Beatles song hit the right demographic on this issue. While that was unintentional., more due to my age than others, I thought that was a telling observation. Hopefully, the subject will resonate with some who had not thought in these terms and if Sir Paul McCartney helped open that door, that is wonderful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s