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Taken at the Indianapolis Museum of Art Dream Cars exhibition in August of 2015

It still shocks me how steeped we are in racism. Thinking about the demographic trends in our country, I wondered aloud to some of my smart friends how racism still exists when white people are clearly becoming minorities in the U.S.

Wouldn’t you think something in our mindset would begin to change with demographics? As a point of fact, the U.S. Census Bureau projects 2045 as the year I will officially be a minority—a short ride when you think about it.

My smart friends had the answer to my question: racism exists because white power exists. Even as our numbers decline, white people still determine what we see in media, what’s on the shelves of a public library and how a kid is educated today in public schools.

If you want to get a sense of the desperation some black families have about their children’s access to education, listen and weep to this pathetic narrative, which explains our ugly problem in a St. Louis, Missouri school system that integrated quite by accident. (Don’t bug out on this one too early. The most telling part isn’t the introduction.)

This story makes me ashamed and reminds me of a terrible truth revealed in The Road to Character: the reason prejudice doesn’t die is because our moral failings always emerge. Even righteous indignation gives way to pride, from which a host of sins flow.

Sorry to be such a Debby Downer today. A beloved friend died of pancreatic cancer yesterday. Another received her first treatment for breast cancer. I have a terrible cold. One of my best friends is mad at me. I’m weary of myself and all mankind for being all about our selves, our wants, our needs, our preferences and our pretenses.

FullSizeRenderIs it a good day to blog or a good day to remain silent? I’ll take my chances. Maybe you’ve had a day that nearly drove you over the edge.

Then again, I must admit: someone who cares took the time to send this encouragement because she knew I was a little down. Someone I hadn’t talked to for months called out of the blue with a valuable piece of information for work. Someone who loves me listened to me and pulled me back from the brink. The human race is a remarkable contradiction.

The 1951 Buick LeSabre up at the top was made the same year Ava Gardner married Frank Sinatra. It reeks of glamor, doesn’t it? I have no idea why I read Ava Gardener: The Secret Conversation, a crazy biography of Gardner based on transcripts from interview she did with the author Peter Evans.

I learned at least three things:

1) You only think you know Sinatra until you see him through the eyes of The World’s Most Beautiful Animal––the name MGM coined for Gardner. There you have it: the roots of today’s culture of porn.

2) Ava was a lovely, intelligent, but potty-mouthed, screwed-up mess who never got over losing her looks. (Tell me this Ava quote isn’t a recipe for future disaster: “I was just sitting there looking beautiful as usual.”)

3) If racism is alive and well today despite our demographic evolution and the passing of 150 years, then it’s no wonder that women are still objectified in media and daily life.

Case in point: Ava’s second husband, Artie Shaw, hung with an intellectual crowd and had this advice for his wife: “Artie said all I had to do was keep my mouth shut, sit at their feet and absorb their wit and wisdom.” I’ll leave you to imagine what that attitude would do for your self-esteem if you had to live with it 24/7.

Gardner spent most of her beginning years in Hollywood doing the 1940s version of soft porn. They called it leg art. Had she not married the philandering Mickey Rooney a year after arriving in Hollywood, she would have spent most of her time doing what all starlets did in that era: alternately swatting off unwanted advances from producers and directors, or accepting them when the rent was due. Hollywood had its own sanitized form of prostitution.

Love those 1950s dresses, but neither you nor I would want to return to those days, sisters and friends. Sure, that was Hollywood, but it’s left a mark on us to this day.

What’s going on in your world? I hope you’re reaching out to your friends. It might just be their saving grace–or yours.

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.