So February is “Black History Month.” A time when our nation is supposed to remember its past and the contributions of African-Americans to the success of the United States after more than a century of slavery. Of course it seems a bit silly now to talk about the advances of a peanut scientist when we have an African American president. Maybe black history month has lost a bit of relevance this time around. This is not to say that we as Americans shouldn’t be mindful of the past and the very shameful and inhumane things that were done by our forebears but rather that we should be more proud this month as to recognize that we have a country where differences can be put aside and democracy works in such a way that allows for such a transition to take place. I wonder if there are any other places on the globe where such acceptance has occurred. Even in socialist Europe, we have widespread rioting amongst muslim youth in france, rampant xenophobia in Italy, race riots in the UK and elsewhere. Africa has seen widespread racial strife which reached its heights in the Sudan and Zimbabwe. The middle east clearly hasn’t resolved its differences, and in many places retains a sexist ideology that keeps women as second class citizens. In Asia, we have China whose population harbors high degrees of distrust of the outside world…especially their asian neighbors in Japan (who feel similarly in the reverse). Human rights abuses of ethnic minorities in both countries have been documented and may even be on the rise as those two countries compete for limited resources and industrial dollars. So we are left with the United States where things are by no means perfect. We retain a high degree of racial disparity that has not gone away…but I would argue that we are on the right track. I am going to refrain from solving the problems of the minority communities in this forum because they are the result of a very complex mix of outside factors and internal failings. Each side of this problem is waiting for the other to make the first move and it just hasn’t happened yet because no one wants to admit fault. One can only hope that with the new administration, there will be some inspiration on both sides of the issue to mend what is still very broken. If for no other reason than Obama is an inspiring symbol of American progress in the 20th century…he will have my support, or at least the benefit of the doubt. Patrick OUT!!!