Article from Issue 142/2012

Since they print my picture with this column, I have little hope of concealing my age, so I’ll just come out and say that I remember Ronald Reagan’s first year in office in 1981 – in fact, I was already a young adult at that time and was living in Reagan’s home state of California, working my first professional job after college. Reagan became known as “the great communicator” for the hypnotic optimism with which he could render his own point of view. In a speech somewhere around that time, the new president made a comment that was something like “We have come a long way since before we knew we had a problem with racism.”

I vividly remember speaking with an elderly African American co-worker the next day, who mentioned, “Maybe he didn’t know we had a problem with racism, but I knew it.”

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