Black Like Me

“Black Like Me” — that’s the title of a 1961 book by a white man named John Howard Griffin, who used makeup and a very dark tan to look black for six weeks in the segregated South.

The lesson of the book was that it was difficult being black. Blacks were discriminated against. No sensible white person would pretend to be black.

Things have changed.

It was recently reported that Rachel Dolezal, a darkish-skinned woman with frizzy hair, pretended to be black for the past decade. She didn’t suffer racial discrimination. In fact, she enjoyed racial favoritism. Her fake “blackness” got her a job with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a professorship in African studies and a city job as an ombudsman.

Her parents finally outed her, stating that her ancestry is actually German and Czech. Childhood photos show a freckle-faced, pale girl with blond hair.

Blondes may have more fun, but blackness, she discovered, is a ticket to a prize in the affirmative-action game. Continue reading

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Life, Liberty and Happiness

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Our parents’ generation had no time to pursue happiness. They were too busy saving the world.

But the blood, sweat and tears sacrificed by “the greatest generation” in saving the world wound up making them happy, too.

Their offspring — a generation that has bled less blood, perspired less perspiration and shed fewer tears than any generation in history — perceive “happiness” differently. They see happiness not as the incidental effect of a life lived well. For them, it’s the whole purpose of life.

“Happiness” is all we want. Our parents became happy by being great. We, in contrast, think we can become great by being happy.

We don’t exactly know how to achieve our happy goal, but we think we know how not to. “Happy life,” we happily theorize, must be the opposite of “hard work.”

So are we happy yet? Continue reading