Water is Water Unless You’re Colored

This being Black History Month PBS has been running a number of special programs. Recently we watched one titled With Infinite Hope: MLK and the Civil Rights Movement. It began with a synopsis of life in America’s South at the beginning of the fight for civil rights in the 1950s. While I had first-hand experience observing segregation and Jim Crow laws I’m still, after all these years, having my eyes opened.

Everyone has probably seen two side by side drinking fountains in a Southern bus terminal with one labeled whites only and the other colored only. The stupidity, racism, and hypocrisy of this was driven home by an older black woman who simply suggested you look at the common water supply line feeding the two fountains.

I was struck by this simple truth to the degree that it prompted me to illustrate it and share with my audience. Somehow it seems, that many of us believe if we drink from the same fountain, swim in the same pool, sit next to each other at a drug store counter, we’ll somehow turn into the other. You don’t become black by swimming with blacks. You don’t become gay by sitting next to a gay person at a lunch counter or in a movie theater. Yet, for centuries we acted like we believed such to be true. Hopefully, none of us believe we’ll become Mexican by eating a taco.

My son suggested that we’ve at least made it to the point of equality in that we all pay $2.00 a bottle for water now.

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