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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Melting the RACIAL Glaciers in America

In this Aug. 14, 1936, file photo, Jesse Owens competes in one of the heats of the 200-meter run at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Owens is the American track star who defied Adolf Hitler, winning the 100 meters, 200, 4x100 relay and long jump at the racially charged Berlins Olympics in 1936. (AP Photo/File) **FILE**
In this Aug. 14, 1936, file photo, Jesse Owens competes in one of the heats of the 200-meter run at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Owens is the American track star who defied Adolf Hitler, winning the 100 meters, 200, 4x100 relay and long jump at the racially charged Berlins Olympics in 1936. (AP Photo/File)


Cheryl K. Chumley

ANALYSIS/OPINION:
Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren just made national headlines for pushing the idea America needs to provide reparations for blacks to account for slavery.
What folly. What political opportunism.
There’s a better way to soothe race relations in this country — one that inspires and unites, rather than angers and divides.
It’s called achievement. It’s called courage. And it taps into the human spirit, not the human flesh.
Look at the story of four-time Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens.
The movie “Race,” a must-see, does a fine job of showcasing all that the black Owens in a racially divided American time had to undergo in order to win the chance to compete before the king of racism himself, Adolf Hitler, during the 1936 Berlin Games.
Owens, because of his talent and persistence, first won the support of Ohio State’s Larry Snyder, who went against the racist elements of the day to allow black athletes to race on his university track team.
“Snyder,” the site HistoryVsHollywood.com states, “taught Owens how to block out the crowd and keep his focus on the race.”
Owens, because of his talent and persistence, was then afforded the opportunity to represent the United States at the Olympic Games in Berlin, at a time of the Nazi Party’s rise to power.
The NAACP pressured Owens to boycott. But he ultimately refused.
“The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People wanted him to boycott the Games in order to send a message to the world regarding Adolf Hitler’s policies toward people of color,” HistoryVsHollywood.com wrote. “Others felt that Owens emerging victorious at the Games would send an even louder message. Of course, the latter would only be true if Owens dominated. Fortunately, he did. Owens became the most successful athlete at the Games, crushing Hitler’s views on Aryan supremacy.”
Owens was almost disqualified, however. He kept fouling during his qualification jumps.
That’s when German athlete Luz Long intervened, and recommended Owens step back from the line by a few inches, in order to give himself room for error. The two, competing as they were for the gold, nonetheless developed a bond.
“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler,” Owens reportedly said of Luz.
Yes, it did.
But it took even more for Owens to rise above the very racist fray of his time to compete in college, compete at the Olympics, compete in front of a hateful Nazi Party, compete even when the NAACP told him not to, even when his own mind probably cast doubts about the sensibilities of competing. And that he did?
We’ve all gained. All of humanity has won.
Owens, with his talent and persistence, by grace and dignity, was able to dismantle and destroy decades of discriminatory thoughts and suppositions of not just a nation, but a world. All without throwing a punch, all without filing a lawsuit, all without storming streets to protest.
Harris and Warren and the rest of the reparation-minded community would have it believed that money is the way to soothe the savage hearts of humankind.
But Owens, and others like him — and there are many, Owens is hardly alone here — teach otherwise.
They teach, through their struggles through adversity, their wins-against-all-odds, their achievements in the face of unspeakable conditions, that peace and understanding and compassion and equality don’t have to come by way of a vicious uprising. They teach that not all societal change has to come by brute force. 
After all, if racism is a condition of the heart, isn’t it the heart that must be touched for permanent change? 
Owens saw the world for what it was — and he beat back the darkness with his God-given talent and with his resolve. Here we are, decades later, still inspired, still touched, still humbled at the recognition of the terrible costs he had to pay to simply run his race, still shamed at the thought of how racism almost nipped this wonderful story in the bud. Those are powerful lessons.
How can reparations compare with that? 

When it comes to melting racial glaciers, let’s look to Owens and take away this truth: it’s not the bitter pills but the inspiring tales of spiritual glories that bring the lasting good.
Source>https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/feb/23/melting-racial-glaciers-america/

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