Perhaps I am jaded by familiarity. I mean, we’ve all seen the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl before, right?
Or maybe it’s just age (mine), or the increasing and justified concern about injuries. Could Sunday’s Super Bowl have been more bland? My goodness. New England won, again, but what a slog. The teams barely scored. The kickers saw a lot of action, so that was something. Tony Romo’s announcing was spot on, knowledgeable. If we could get that expanded to more of broadcasting, maybe even broadcasting about national affairs, we’d be ahead. Alas, only a few commercials rose to a level of excellence and surprise.
But maybe the game we needed to see was the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs. New Orleans, in fact – and it’s a huge football market – basically boycotted the event, throwing a day-long party instead. Of course, in a city that is fueled by bourbon, it’s not hard to lay on a day-long party.
We still have college basketball, and Kansas won Saturday evening, so there’s that.
A dear friend of mine posted a photograph Monday of The Negro Motorist Green-Book, 1941 edition. It was published in New York City by Victor H. Green, and listed hotels, taverns, restaurants, night clubs, service stations, barber shops and the like, nationwide, that black people could safely patronize. Where they could safely spend money. Because otherwise, they might be driven out of town, or asked to leave, or refused service, or generally embarrassed. And that’s the positive side. They might also have been violently attacked.
So it was striking, the juxtaposition, that the state of Virginia, at least its politics, is in chaos today. Its governor, Ralph Northam, stubbornly clings to the thread of authority he still possesses. Friday, we learn that his college yearbook page included a photograph of two men, one in blackface and one in a KKK hood. He first said he was in the photo, then denied it, then allowed he had dressed in blackface for a Michael Jackson dance contest.
As I thought of my friend, who is African-American, it strikes me that this KKK and blackface stuff isn’t just a collegiate prank. This legacy is why large portions of our populace are afraid of interactions with the police, even today. It’s why the mobs unleashed by dog whistles to racism are dangerous. It’s why we haven’t come close to solving the grave racial issues we face as a nation, and in some respects are getting farther away from solutions, not closer.
And it’s why Victor Green, the enterprising publisher, could make money compiling a book that listed safe places to stay. I admire his entrepreneurship, his spotting a need and filling it. I fear what it says about our country, then and now.
Douglas Cunningham is editor and publisher of the Putnam County Courier and the Putnam County News and Recorder. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 845- 265-2468.