Monday, May 4, 2009

On Behalf Of My Father And His Generation...

I got a phone call from my father yesterday. He was telling me about his job at Hertz rent a car. He returns their rented vehicles back to the parking lot. I'm assuming it is a relatively average paying job. Apparently there was a possibility for a promotion a few weeks back and he and one of his co workers decided to apply. My father is in his 60's. His co worker, a 24 year old woman.
Now, normally in my book, age, gender and ethnicity doesn't matter to me that much, but in this case it seems to be a factor. They are both African/American.

With that in mind, I have to point out that any man from my fathers generation has a particular view on ethnic issues in this country. Confronted by an era of civil rights movements for all minorities and especially African/Americans, his generation made some very important changes to, not only the laws,but the over all perspective of generations to come and some of them have, and still are, paying a price for it.. So being a part of the very next generation, I cannot over extend my gratitude for the grueling effort and results from his particular era that allowed me to grow up with basic human rights. Not to mention the platform it helped to create for women to continue their own struggle for their rights, as well.
Time has passed since then, and the affirmation of such timeless testaments to freedom has slowly become the standard of what is perceived, now, as normal in this country. In other words, now that the hard work is over, the perception of freedom and basic human rights does not seem so dire and desperate to the newer generations. Plus the fact that we are becoming more and more electronically and technologically assisted, adding a more numbing sensation to our continually evolving conscience. But like I already mentioned, I cannot forget about that work that was accomplished. I will always understand what might be going on in the minds and hearts of my fathers generation. They might seem a bit slower to adapt to the world in which they helped create for us, which is growing steadily at a rapid speed and pace; away from them.

So here's what happened. She got the position. And so my father accepted his loss with a card with a letter of congratulations. I would gather that the tension between them, manifested by their competitive nature, was something to be reconciled. And that, to me, was the purpose of my fathers letter. Obviously. To not only congratulate her, but to let go their differences, get back to work, and move on. Inside the letter he inserted a copy of the famous Google searchable, "Willie Lynch Letters." An article from the slave era that when read today, most African/Americans feel the urge to reassure themselves by connecting with other African/Americans. It is quite a shocking and racist article indeed, but nonetheless part of our countries growing and evolving history. (It's strange how negativity, sometimes strengthens the bond between people who are dealing with it). Along with this peculiar article was a note. The note was added to let her know that if she did not understand why the "Lynch" letter was there, she could simply ask him to explain, and that he would be glad to. The way elders always do. It's what allows fathers the ability to console and advise. Women seem to be more intuitive with their knowledge.
Well, being a man of his age and experience,I would automatically assume that it was an invitation to reconnect with her. To put aside the competitive work ethics between them and rekindle the unity that usually connects African/American citizens. In other words, it was a personal and confidential note that he offered to her in that old fashion 'let bygones be bygones' display of chivalry. Aside from congratulating her. But instead of understanding, what I would call an obvious and friendly gesture, what she did in response shocked me and especially my father. (A man who helped his own father to raise his younger sisters after his mother died. And that was during the heat of the civil rights movement in the 60's) Not only did his younger co worker ignore his offer to explain the "Lynch" letter, she turned it over to the Hertz company and got my father suspended! She could have crumpled it up and simply threw it away if she didn't like it! But no, she didn't. It seems that she considered none of this in her reaction and cost my father his job. Can you imagine how that would feel in my father eyes?
I still don't understand how she could do such a thing...

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