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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Still mulling over that last post ...

Wondering why I've become increasingly uncomfortable with the amount of media attention I'm receiving these days. The oral histories I feel justified in doing since the life of any human being has value at least to their progeny. Knowing how much my father's videotapes mean to me provides some perspective on my own. Those several hours of Dad before the university audience provides immortality for him in a limited way. My own will do the same for my children. But those are done and in my possession. What is happening now seems quite different.

Maybe I'm feeling exploited for the sake of the Henry J. Kaiser image. And maybe that's not a bad thing. I'm not sure. I do know that at the recent opening of the Kaiser Exhibition at the Oakland Museum it felt strange to see my photo and sound bite (taken from the oral history) in a portion dedicated to the racial diversity he'd brought to the war effort. That felt disingenuous to me. There were photos of other blacks in that section of the exhibit. Segregated again? I wasn't sure. It did cause me to look around to see if there were any African-Americans displayed in any other section and (in all fairness) I did see one, but I can't remember the context. Maybe I was just looking for trouble where there was none. Maybe it's just the painful recollections of the period.

I have such mixed feelings about this very warped version of the American Dream. Each time I meet with the NPS people, what comes up for me is confused and disturbing. It could be that digging deep in these writings will serve to help clarify the period and lay some ghosts... .

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