Perspective from a senior citizen

There are some advantages to being a senior citizen.

Carrying that status implies you have been places, done things, and seen a thing or two — acquired some experience and perspective — maybe even gained some insight.

So when something comes along billed as new that isn’t, it’s a senior citizen who will often pick up on that, and, when someone comes along saying something is true that isn’t, a senior may well perceive the falsehood.

Sometimes, seniors can even identify things that make no sense.

Take, for example, this Critical Race Theory screed.

It’s an approach used in some graduate schools to study issues related to the causes and perpetuation of racism — it’s not a part of any K-12 curriculum.

Class discussions need to occur that impart understandings that will make our schools more inclusive and benefit society. Such a discussion is not teaching Critical Race Theory.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley recently introduced the “Love American Act.” He says this legislation counters Critical Race Theory in kindergarten through 12th grade — a level at which it isn’t taught. Understanding and brotherly love are taught there.

Unfortunately, Sen. Hawley appears to be under the impression that loving your brother implies not loving America.

Marvin Gaye would ask, “What’s going on?”

Could Sen. Hawley’s proposed legislation be a deflection? An excuse not to talk about real issues — things like how to stop spending three times more than any other country in the world for name-brand drugs? Or the fact some super-rich people and corporations pay no taxes? Maybe it’s to avoid discussing the need to eliminate Dark Money before it perverts just about everything?

I think so; I’m a senior.

In 1962, I was a student at Wayne State University in Detroit and needed a place to live. So I picked up a newspaper to peruse rental listings. Page after page of those listings had the preface: COLORED.

That caption was notice of a limitation, one carried by all rentals on the east side of Woodward Avenue. Ads that didn’t contain that caption were for apartments on the west side of Woodward.

White people lived on the Westside; Black people had to live on the Eastside. Woodward Avenue wasn’t just a street — it was a dividing line.

I saw it.

In the 1960s, Wayne State University was an interesting place for a young man from Alpena. It provided a multi-faceted education with an upfront seat to societal change.

Martin Luther King Jr. was active then — until his 1968 assassination. In 1965, John Lewis walked along the Edmund Pettus bridge — until Alabama State Police nearly beat him to death. In 1965, the Civil Rights Act was passed. In 1968, Michigan passed its first non-discrimination in housing legislation.

Then there was Motown — its music, only a few blocks away.

During those years, artists like Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, The Temptations, The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Jackson Five moved the soul of the black community into the kitchens and living rooms of white America.

“What’s Going On?,” “Come See About Me,” “My Girl,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Dancing in the Streets,” and many many others lifted people’s spirits; made us all smile and move — together.

In 1960, Detroiter Aretha Franklin was 18 years old. She had attended Detroit Northern High School on Woodwards’s east side. Marvin Gaye was her sister’s boyfriend.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked Aretha No. 1 on its list of the best gospel singers of all time.

In the 60s, when I went home on school breaks, I began hearing people my parents’ age say things like, “Those people sure can sing,” or, “Those people sure have rhythm!”

Always, it was “those people,” but those people were now noticed for something other than the color of their skin.

Black people moved across Woodward Avenue in the 1960s. They had to fight every step of the way, but they played their music as they came, and white people could feel the soul in it.

The Oct. 11 edition of The New York Times carried an interesting column entitled, “Shrinking Schools Add to Hong Kong Exodus.”

It appears Hong Kong is no longer a city where people want to raise their children. Instead, many prefer their kids experience greater freedom of expression and a more balanced education than is offered there.

Changes are most evident at Hong Kong’s most prestigious educational institutions, where families who can are rushing to leave.

This desire to emigrate is such that the United Kingdom is offering special visas to Hong Kong residents.


China passed a new law requiring “patriotic education.” A school principal there advised that all subjects going forward would include lessons on “loving China.”

Comparing Sen. Hawley’s “Love America Act” with China’s “Loving China” curriculum might be interesting.

But probably not.

Doug Pugh’s “Vignettes” runs weekly on Saturdays. He can be reached at pughda@gmail.com.


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