Thursday, January 22, 2009

Race and Gender

Much has been made this week about the inauguration of Barak Obama as the first African-American president of the U.S. For the past two Sundays, our Adult Forum at church has been examining how race-relations in our country have changed since the 1960s. While it's important not to forget the racist past, and while some voters in the recent election were influenced by Obama's race, I don't know anyone personally for whom race was an issue, either positively or negatively. Most of us saw in Obama a person who seems superlatively endowed with the qualities of an effective leader and we compared him with our most recent former president who has proved to be deficient in almost all of those qualities.

I feel the same way about gender that I feel about race: it's almost always a non-issue. Certainly a female point of view is interesting and of value. But I won't give validation to work just because it was done by a woman, and I'll hold both women and men to the same standards of civility and quality.

Many years ago I was a member of a stitchery guild whose members, by the nature of the medium, were all women. It surprised me to learn that many women were afraid to enter their works in a juried show for fear of rejection. Many sought admiration for whatever they produced whether or not they had exercised any discipline or skill. It was enough that they were women and had made something.

We need to continue on the path toward total gender and race equality, but the time for hand-wringing and finger-pointing is past. Let's get on with our work, whatever that is, and reward those who obtain good results while operating with compassion and efficiency.


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