dimanche, juin 29, 2008


"The less you know, the more you believe."
Bono aka Paul David Hewson (born 10 May 1960), musician and activist best known as the lead singer of the Irish rock band U2. Bono has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was granted an honorary knighthood by the United Kingdom, and was named as a Person of the Year by Time magazine.

black is gorgeous

We didn't set out to adopt a black dog, but realized that several of our "favorites" -- dogs whose photos we'd seen online and wanted to meet (before Ruby) were black. We're thrilled with Ruby and love her shiny, jet-black fur (even when we're vacuuming it off of our maple hardwood floors). We're not alone -- check out these photos of beloved black dogs.
Black pups face doggie discrimination
Dark-coated pooches tend to linger in shelters the longest
By Melissa Dahl ,MSNBC
updated 5:34 a.m. PT, Wed., March. 5, 2008
It's not like Pamela Gregg was a stranger to helping out the underdog. She thought she knew what kinds of pooches linger the longest in animal shelters: Older dogs, abused dogs, sick or injured dogs — dogs like George Bailey, the hound mix she'd rescued after he'd been struck by a car.

But black dogs? While searching for a companion for George Bailey, Gregg was shocked to see a banner on an Ohio animal shelter's Web site that detailed how tough it is for big dogs with black coats to find homes.

"It said something like, 'We know that you people prefer colors, but we've got wonderful black dogs here, won't you please consider them?'" recalls Gregg, who's 49 and lives in Xenia, Ohio. "I was shocked, because I think that black dogs are beautiful — and I couldn't believe people would not get a dog based on its color."

To the uninitiated, the idea seems so strange — doggie discrimination? But among those in animal rescue circles, the phenomenon is commonplace enough to have earned its own name: "black dog syndrome."

"There's not a lot of that type of statistics on many aspects of sheltering," says Kim Intino, the director of animal sheltering issues for the Humane Society of the United States. "But I think that every person that has worked in a shelter can attest that in shelters animals with black coats can be somewhat harder to adopt out — or to even get noticed."

Even after a year had passed at a Los Angeles animal shelter, no one had noticed Estelle. Except, of course, for the staff; they fawned over the big black dog and her gentle demeanor. They started letting Estelle roam the office during the day, which let one couple see her in action — outside her cage and calmly interacting with people. They fell for her, and took her home.

But not every black dog is lucky enough to get that kind of special attention, says Madeline Bernstein, the president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Los Angeles.

"They're the hardest to adopt out, they're in the shelters the longest and therefore, they're most likely to be euthanized if nothing happens," Bernstein says. (Breeders don't tend to face this problem at the level that shelters do, simply because they have fewer animals to deal with than a city shelter that takes strays in every day.)

Bernstein has plenty of theories about why people might not want black dogs in animal shelters. It's mostly an unconscious thing, she says, which may explain why black cats have the same problems finding a home. People who are aware of superstitions about black cats (don't let them cross your path!) may also be unconsciously harboring superstitions about black dogs.

In British folklore, such as stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Walter Scott, the black dog is a creepy, spectral figure that haunts cemeteries and is an omen of death. (Non-lit geeks who've never heard of those stories have at least seen "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," in which a big black dog called the Grim stalks Harry.) Another Englishman, Winston Churchill, battled serious bouts of depression which he called "the black dog."

But some speculate that black dogs just don't have the right look to catch the eye of potential adopters.

"Black dogs might appear older; even when they're young, they have bits of facial hair that may be white or gray," Bernstein says. And the ignored breeds are often those who simply look a little big and scary, and whose bad reputations may have preceded them, such as Rottweiler, Doberman pinscher and pit bull mixes.

Bernstein says some people turn in their black dogs to the shelters because they've gotten new furniture and don't like the dark fur their pet sheds.

Too hard to see
But it may be the simplest reason that's costing these dogs a good home — their black coats can make them invisible in poorly lit kennels. (Same problem happens with amateur photos on shelters' Web sites, which is how many people find the dog they intend to adopt.)

"Sometimes if a potential adopter sees a whole row of black dogs, they think, 'Maybe they're not being adopted for a good reason. Maybe there's something wrong with these dogs,'" Bernstein says.

So volunteers at some shelters put extra energy into getting their black dogs noticed. They place brightly colored, eye-catching blankets and toys in their kennels. At Bernstein's shelters, they tie pink ribbons around the necks of the girls, and fasten big bow ties around the necks of the boys.

"In our kennels, the black dogs are all decked out," Bernstein says.

One shelter in Kettering, Ohio, the Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals even ran a special discount on black dogs in February, slashing adoption fees in half after executive director Rudy Bahr realized that out of his shelters' 42 dogs, 28 of them were big and black. Bahr instructs his employees in the same sort of tactics Bernstein's shelters take to attract attention to black dogs, like tying bandannas around their necks and taking the dogs to a well-lit area outside to have their photo taken for their Web site.

It was that kind of photo on the shelter's site that attracted Gregg's attention as she continued her search for a companion for George Bailey. "I was trolling through their pictures and there she was," Gregg says. "She was a hound mix like George Bailey, but Molly is sleek, shiny black. As soon as I saw her I completely fell in love. I couldn't get in my car fast enough."

Molly and Bailey turned out to be a perfect match, and if Gregg someday rescues another dog, she says she'll definitely go for a big black dog.

"If and when I get another dog, I will probably deliberately look for another black dog, only because I've learned of black dog syndrome," Gregg says. "Bring 'em my way, because I love 'em."

samedi, juin 14, 2008

the future is unwritten

"I'd like to say that people can change anything they want to, and that means everything in the world. Show me any country and there'll be people in it.

It's time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. You know, think on that ... without people, you're nothing."

Joe Strummer's cover of "Redemption Song."
Via Ryan E.

vendredi, juin 13, 2008

failure and imagination

I was very impressed by the commencement address J.K. Rowling gave at Harvard on June 5, 2008. I learned more about a woman whose creativity captured my imagination and admire the challenge she issued to Harvard's graduates.

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” Copyright of JK Rowling, June 2008

President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates.

The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I’ve experienced at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and fool myself into believing I am at the world’s best-educated Harry Potter convention.
Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.

You see? If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke, I’ve still come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step towards personal improvement.

Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that has expired between that day and this.

I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

These might seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.

Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.

I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension.
They had hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.

I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.

What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.

At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.

Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in the research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to think independently of their government. Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had been forced to leave behind.

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just given him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard and read.

And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.

Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of trouble, friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I’ve used their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.

So today, I can wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I wish you all very good lives.

Thank you very much.

mercredi, juin 11, 2008

why i'm voting republican

Learn why I'm voting Republican and then do something about it.
Via Bucky

the ghosts of a different philly

I got the chills last week when NPR declared Obama the first-ever Black major party nominee for president. I would've felt proud to hear that Hilary was the first-ever female major-party presidential nominee, but it clearly wasn't her time. Thankfully, she made 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling.
Barack Obama's victory stirs Mississippi ghosts
By Faye Fiore, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 10, 2008
PHILADELPHIA, MISS. -- Some places are defined by a single event. Roswell, N.M., will always be known for space aliens, Dallas for assassination. And this little town in the Piney Woods of eastern Mississippi will forever be the site of one of the most brutal crimes of the civil rights era.

But Philadelphia -- situated in a county once dubbed Bloody Neshoba -- can now add a remarkable footnote to its most nefarious chapter: The rural county where three men were killed for trying to help black people vote has cast the majority of its ballots to put a black man in the White House.

But much is the same. For all the excitement about Barack Obama and his history-making run for president, there is anxiety, too, because the present is still a hostage to the past. Everything in this slow town of one-way streets and more than 80 churches is viewed through the lens of race. Obama's success makes some people as anxious as it makes others proud.

"It's just the impossibility of it," Campbell said again and again of the presumed Democratic nominee. She had just come from a weeknight Bible study at her church, Mt. Zion United Methodist, which the Ku Klux Klan once burned down. "I know Mississippians. Barack Obama will never change the uneducated whites from the South. I don't care what he does. If he made some of them millionaires, he'll never change them."

Obama's victory in the primaries comes just as Philadelphia prepares to mark the 44th anniversary of the killings that put it reluctantly on the map. Racial tensions are not as violently overt as they were then; today the slights are subtle, from the glance averted on the street to the job application that is never considered. With five months of fierce presidential campaigning ahead -- black against white -- there is a sense that simmering racial tensions are about to boil again.

"What happened all those years ago -- that just keeps coming up," said Doris Gray, 81, who is white. The presence of an out-of-town newspaper reporter in her son's chili cafe not 24 hours after Obama cinched the nomination confirmed her fear that people are going to start poking around in matters better left be.

Around here, that always leads to the same date, June 21, 1964, Father's Day to be exact. Mt. Zion, a black church on the outskirts of town, lay in charred rubble, and three civil rights workers -- two white and one black -- came on the heels of that violence to register black people to vote.

The three were stopped by law enforcement officers in league with the Ku Klux Klan and were jailed for speeding. Released that night, they were chased down a country road and shot, their bodies found six weeks later in an earthen dam outside town.

Eighteen reputed Klansmen went to trial on federal civil rights charges, including Edgar Ray Killen, the part-time Baptist preacher believed to have masterminded the plan. An all-white jury deadlocked in Killen's case. The story was fodder for the 1989 movie "Mississippi Burning," which played right here at the old State Theatre. A new trial held in 2005 finally sent an 80-year-old Killen to prison.

With every turn of events, the media converged on Philadelphia, an otherwise uneventful town with a population of more than 7,000 -- 55% white, 40% black. But no one ever seemed interested in its friendly people, low crime rate, quaint shops or the county fair that brought visitors in from all over.

The way it looked to some, everything boomeranged to the town's racist past. Ronald Reagan chose the fair to announce his 1980 candidacy for president -- Nancy sat on his lap in a wood rocker, red Mississippi mud on her white shoes -- and critics questioned whether he was implicitly condoning racism by deciding to come here at all.

Now there's Obama, Philadelphia's most sensitive subject personified.

"I just wish he'd stop talking about race," said Taneil Long, 30, who owns a nail salon on Beacon Street.

A client walked in, a young black woman, with her daughter in tow. Most of Long's patrons are black, ever since seven years ago when word got out that she was dating a black man. Most of her white clients deserted her. Her white landlady told her to move out. Her cousin from Memphis hasn't spoken to her since.

Long is biracial -- part Vietnamese and part white. A Democrat, she likes what Obama has to say, but the subject of race repels her. It runs against the local grain to discuss the matter openly, and it's hard to avoid it whenever Obama's face comes on TV. In fact, that's when she usually changes the channel.

She doesn't think an Obama presidency would change the minds of people who haven't changed their minds already.

"It's just unbelievable how hateful some people can be," she said. But then she decides that maybe a black president isn't such a bad idea. "If he goes in there and does a remarkable job, maybe some will say, 'Hey, maybe I didn't have the right feeling about that situation.' But as far as Neshoba County goes? You will never get nobody to admit it."

The South of the Old Confederacy is changing, outpacing the rest of the country in population growth and jobs -- CNN, Coca-Cola and FedEx are headquartered there. Once-rural states like Georgia, Florida and Tennessee now have more racially tolerant metropolitan centers.

But in Deep South states like this one, change has come more slowly. Two Indian casinos outside of town have boosted the economy, and Philadelphia is, as they like to say, fixin' to get a bowling alley.

A stronger black leadership has stepped up to demand better police protection and community services, such as equal distribution of parks money, making sure the one in the black neighborhood doesn't get short shrift.

James Prince, editor and publisher of the Neshoba County Democrat, framed the progress this way: "There are people who, if they could get away with not doing the work in the black park, probably would, but they are not going to get away with it."

Patricia Madison is a clerk at All About Her, a boutique that sells purses a few doors down from Long's nail salon. It's owned by a young black woman, and that in itself is a departure from how things used to be.

Still, Madison, a 39-year-old African American, can point to uneasy moments. A restaurant with an all-white staff advertised for a waitress, but wouldn't give her a second look. When her white friend invited her to her wedding and the groom's parents objected, she stayed away so as not to create a disturbance.

Maybe Obama's candidacy -- or presidency -- could help break stubborn stereotypes, she mused, sipping a soda between customers. "Maybe people might view us different -- see that we are not ignorant. Some of us have class. We can do more than work in the kitchen and be somebody's housekeeper."

Just about any adult you talk with here has experienced racial prejudice from one side or the other. Steve Wilkerson, a white lifelong resident of Philadelphia, worked in high school for a service station with one bathroom for men, one for women and one for "coloreds." The first two were cleaned daily, the third once a week.

Now Wilkerson, 55, owns Steve's on the Square, a landmark clothing store downtown. He is a member of a multiracial commission that has worked to bring healing to Philadelphia: The attorney general issued a formal apology, and Highway 19 now bears the names of the activists who died there: Andrew Goodman, a 20-year-old white college student from New York; Michael Schwerner, a 24-year-old white social worker also from New York; and James Chaney, a 21-year-old black man from nearby Meridian.

But Obama's strong performance in a county that is 65% white is less a sign of racial tolerance than of white flight to the Republican Party. Those voting in the Democratic primary were mainly African American or white liberals.

Wilkerson predicted Obama will have a hard time winning Mississippi's white voters in November. Those who do support him will do so discreetly.

"They won't have bumper stickers and lawn signs. It would not be comfortable."

On this warm, humid night, Margaret White, 54, stood outside Mt. Zion, the church she has attended all her life. Today it is rebuilt in fire-resistant brick rather than wood. The old bell -- all that was left from the arson -- is in place and a gray stone engraved with three names stands outside the sanctuary, laid with a wreath every June.

It's a proud time for the church, but there are no high-fives or yelps for Obama's victory. "Low-key is the way," the Rev. Willie Young tells his flock.

White went into work clapping her hands the morning after Obama won. But she was careful not to flaunt her enthusiasm in front of her white colleagues at Mississippi State University, where she works as a program assistant teaching nutrition. "Here, you have to know somebody to get a job," she said. "You can't afford to tick people off."

She doesn't hold much hope that Obama's rise will reform old-school Southerners, but she can't help but notice the changing attitude of the next generation drawn to his candidacy.

Color is not the dividing wall it once was. While neighborhoods remain somewhat segregated, workplaces are more diverse, biracial couples more common. Children -- black and white -- play together on sports teams; they grow up not only to attend each other's weddings, but to take part as bridesmaids and groomsmen.

"One day, the old history will just die off and race will still be there, but it won't matter so much," White said, swatting away the mosquitoes as children, freed from Bible study, ran in circles around the memorial stone, oblivious to its meaning.
Via Hilstah