Ferguson and Following Thoughts

I recently celebrated my 68th birthday. I am a white woman of mixed Norwegian and English descent. This makes me about as white as white can be. One set of grandparents came over on the boat from Norway, one great grandmother on the other side on a boat from England. The remainder of the ancestors on that side, as far as my LDS cousins have been able to determine, are all of English descent and have always lived in the North. In other words, if I had my DNA tested, I would be VERY surprised to find anything NOT coming from northern Europe.

With that said, I was raised as a member of a minority group! In my home town of Eau Claire, WI, if you were not a Lutheran of Scandinavian descent, you were a MINORITY! And I was only HALF Scandinavian. I was, GASP, a half-breed! And, I wasn't Lutheran! I was raised Congregationalist! Because of that, my best friends in high school were all outcasts: the visual artists, the performing artists, the Catholics, the Jews and the foreigns students (yes, the ones of color, too).

In college (or as my Canadian friends prefer, at university), these strange social habits persisted: one of my first friends was a girl from Kingman, AZ, an IBM National Merit Scholar (meaning a math whiz) who described her family as the only Jewish family in Kingman. I was rooming with her a year or so later when I realized I was a W.A.S.P. (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) and all of the things that came with that! Her comment was - "But, Karen, you are a NICE WASP!"

A year or so after that, I was one of her brides' maids, along with the first Black National Merit Scholar from Birmingham AL. I recently saw a "Finding Your Roots" episode featuring Condi Rice, who was in grade school about the time I graduated from high school. I was wondering if SHE looked up to Amelia, the way WE admired her, and what she represented to us northerners.

While I was at Michigan State, I also met an outstanding teacher named H.J. DeBlij. In a course called the Anthropology of African Music, he and Professor Alan Merriam introduced the class to a musical review called "Wait a Minim," written and produced by white South Africans during the apartheid regime. See after the flip for the GOODIES!

The show "Wait a Minim" appeared in South Africa, London and on Broadway. Recordings of the London and Broadway casts were published. I own the Broadway cast album and have treasured it for almost forty years. Miriam Makeba has recorded one of the most powerful songs from this review, altered the lyric somewhat and made it an even more powerful call for whites to realize that the time of assumed white privilege MUST end now (my emphasis and wording - not hers). Turn on your sound and click on the picture for "A Piece of Ground" sung by Miriam Makeba.


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  • Karen Edson
    commented 2014-10-23 00:32:49 -0500
    Worth multiple listens for the song and multiple views for the slideshow!