Mom’s Wedding Photo, circa 1953
Before I really get going with this blogging thing, I figured I should provide a little background on myself. Instead of a standard bio, which you can more or less see on my site (see bio link in the footer), I decided that the below essay would be a better approach. I wrote it for a Vanity Fair essay contest about the personal & social significance of the new millennium. (I lost—or at least I never heard back.) On the eve of Obama’s inauguration, I find it still surprisingly relevant.
Digging for Oysters
A few years back two colleagues were debating America’s entrepreneurial spirit when Joanne (white) said, “My mother always told me the world was my oyster, that I could do and be whatever I wanted if I worked hard enough.” Christian (black) responded, “My mother told me every door open to me would need to be kicked in.”
A friendship kindled and the story seeped into our company folklore as an example of different cultural perspectives. I believe it wasn’t difference but similarity that sparked the initial camaraderie. A similarity that is utterly American—a lens that, like parental advice, is tinted by experience. Mine is that of a white middle-class Southerner raised in a suburb unabashedly named Whitehaven. No kidding.
Why do we look back to see forward? We scour our past for clues to our future. Whatever the reason, it is through such scrutiny, both personal and societal, that I search for what it means to be an American at the dawn of this new millennium…reaminder of essay.