Could I find him if I searched all of Queens? Where is Archie Bunker when I need him? It doesn’t matter if I agreed with Archie’s politics, his humanity showed, everything hung out, the charming, the ugly, and the stubborn. He was a loud-mouthed bigot, a caring neighbor, and a confused, ignorant man struggling for connection and understanding; in his being human he was flawed.
I need Archie. I need to question, to appreciate, and feel better about myself and my human interconnectedness. I detested Archie’s words, but I understood his feelings, his frustrations, his concerns, and I laughed. I embraced him as a person doing the best that he could with the knowledge and understanding that he had and I watched him grow as those understandings were challenged, again and again. As his world and understanding grew, so did I; I was awakened.
I believe that Archie Bunker has been silenced by the secondary and quiet effect of political correctness. In that silence, interchange and dialogue have ceased and in its place fear and hate have risen. As a result, the media, primarily television has fashioned my observations and lessons about class and color in America. And in America, I cannot escape the shadow of racism. I am bombarded by these stereotypical, one-dimensional characterizations that neither broaden my understanding nor convey shared histories commonalities, or experiences.
I want to get over to Houser Street and begin the conversations at the pub over a budinski, at the laundry by the dryer, on the bus, at the water cooler, at the deli, in the elevator, in the waiting room… I want to talk, anywhere that people are gathered. I don’t want to be offensive, I can and should be sensitive, but sensitivity does not mean silence. Dialogue means sharing – sharing of myself, my world views, my hopes and dreams. Here’s to the Archie in me and in each of us, imperfect, and reaching out…
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