Eliot Hurwitz | Great Expectations

In his new blog, Eliot Hurwitz reflects upon Barack Obama’s speech on race relations in America.

Eliot Hurwitz

I’ve been wondering with great expectation, what kind of real
“conversation about race” Mr. Obama will now lead us into, following his
amazing speech a few weeks ago. As part of an interracial family
(my partner of 30 years is Asian, our son is now 20) I have a sense of
just how difficult, and important, this is. Even with our years of
“group process” training, progressive intention and common spiritual
practice, we (mostly me as the white, middle aged, well-employed,
ivy-league-educated, guy) are often sideswiped by persistent
unconsciousness of the effects of asymmetrical privilege and very
different histories.  And in the community we live in, in Napa
California, with a hardscrabble blue-collar past (we were mostly the
bedroom for a big Naval shipyard that closed only a decade ago) and a
decidedly Hispanic future (our largest ethnic group in a decade more)
the racial tension just below our nouveau genteel wine country surface
is evident regularly in our local newspaper letters to the editor and
the more extensive blog postings on the paper’s web site. In fact, the
paper’s editor tells me that when some story or other even brushes
against one or another sensitive patch, the email pouch swells with
stuff that never even makes it online, it is so foul.

So it is good, and well done, to make an intelligent, finely felt,
closely observed, personally vulnerable, even courageous speech. But
leading our communities and families into and through this territory
will be far more important, and far more difficult. It will truly
require vast intelligence, feeling, careful observation, vulnerability
and courage. The collective gasp from the nation at this even modest
beginning is a sure sign of just how important this really is.

I am anxious about hopes raised and unmet. And I am thrilled by the
possibility of the challenge engaged. For now I wait with anticipation
Mr. Obama’s next move — I hope he has the opportunity to make it.

Eliot Hurwitz, editor of DharmaCafé‘s Sustainable Community section, is Program Manager for the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency.

Eliot: Your Obama Expectations is a sensitive, concise, cogent, and compassionately written perspective that I know coordinates both your work and your thinking over the past decade that I’ve known you, your family, and your Bay Area community work in Marin, Napa.

For the past 3 years I have been consulting with Touro University California at Mare Island to expand and add a new campus to complement the existing 44 acre campus, where 1,200 graduate students now are enrolled. The largest number are attending the College of Osteopathic Medicine.
This past year I was a member of Class #1 of the newly formed Leadership Vallejo. I spent a year getting to better know “the mainland” .. and visit ed so many parts of Vallejo, that I had not taken much notice of during my first 2 years working on the Island and with an “island” mentality. When the City of Vallejo recently filed for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy, a much larger number of individuals and a larger part of the community was able to start looking forward to Vallejo becoming the Bay Area’s next University Town. The multi-racial and multi-ethnic resident population of all of Vallejo can see and are widely embracing the promise of Touro’s applications to start build ing the Touro Cancer Treatment Center utilizing the technology and expertise of both Siemens Medical Solutions and the newly established relationships between Touro and Heidelberg University, which were recently formalized.

There is lots to do .. and in the words of an engineering colleague of mine, who recently stated at a civic gathering: “It is time for the people who think that something can not be done, to just get out of the way of those who are now doing it.”

Rebuilding the community connections and essential human relationships between people now moving to Vallejo and other upscale populations of Napa (the City & the County)will soon start happening, because that is just what happens in any University town, especially the campus neighborhood (Mare Island). Keep up the deep intellectual digging and sharing observations.

Posted by Clark Blasdell  on  05/29  at  03:35 PM
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