Time Magazine – March 28, 2016 – page 62. The View Point Column.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes, “But being a black role model is a double-edged sword of inspiration and frustration…The frustration for the black role model is knowing that thought you are proof it can be done – a happy lottery winner waving a million dollar ticket – the odds are so astronomically stacked against you that it sometimes feels as if you’re more a source of false hope and crushed dreams. A casino shill they let win so the suckers will keep playing the slots…”
If you’re black and you fail, he says, people will say “blacks aren’t up to the task.” If you succeed, they’ll say you had advantages from being black.
Let’s try replacing “black” with “aging.”
If you’re old and you fail (or, quite literally, fall), people will say, “It’s your age. What do you expect?”
If you’re old and you dance, work out or perform outstanding feats with technology, they say, “You’re doing well for your age.” Never mind that what you’re doing would be impressive at any age.
I once saw a television interviewer exclaiming over a white-haired woman who was jumping out of airplanes. That’s something most people won’t do, at any age. But the focus was on how old she was.
I get annoyed when younger women at the gym say, “You are amazing.” I’ve been working out for over 30 years. I’m in better shape than some younger people. Even doctors – on the rare occasions I see them – admit I’m in shape.
But I also must have gotten some good genes. And being old is still far from being a picnic, unless you’re running for president.