Vinson: Race from Archie Bunker's viewpoint

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Between the Confederate flag, Republican presidential hopeful/billionaire Donald Trump's comments about illegal immigrants, and a man born in Kuwait recently shooting to death 4 Marines and 1 navy petty officer in Chattanooga, TN, "race-related" issues dominate the news these days (with "Transgendering" coming in at a close second).

So, instead of throwing gas on a fire that already waxes hellishly hot, I am going to attempt to cool down that fire a few degrees with some well-intended humor.

The television sitcom "All in the Family" was developed by Norman Lear and ran from 1971 through 1979. It starred Carroll O'Conner and Jean Stapleton as husband-and-wife Archie & Edith Bunker. Sally Struthers played their daughter Gloria, who was married to Michael Stivic, portrayed by Rob Reiner. "All in the Family" was considered "groundbreaking" because it touched on subject matter that previously had been considered taboo for mainstream television: homosexuality, women's liberation, rape, religion, miscarriage, abortion, Vietnam War, menopause, impotence, and, yes, racism.

Archie Bunker's character is a working-class World War II veteran living in a modest home in Queens, New York. He is an outspoken bigot, biased against anyone who is not a U.S.-born, politically conservative, heterosexual white Anglo-Saxon Protestant/WASP male. Wife Edith, to whom Archie refers as "dingbat, is totally subservient to Archie, catering to his every need. Since Mike is attending college, thus financially strapped, he and wife Gloria dwell in the house with Archie & Edith.

A Polish-born, liberal hippie, Mike, to whom Archie refers as "Meathead," is the socio-politico opposite of Archie, and they clash virtually every time they discuss any topic, particularly "race." Archie perpetually hurls racial epithets at his black neighbors, the Jeffersons.

"Archie in the Cellar" was the tenth episode of the fourth season of "All in the Family." In "Archie in the Cellar," Edith and Mike & Gloria are away for the weekend, leaving Archie alone in the house. Archie goes down the steps to the cellar to work on his furnace. However, Archie accidentally locks himself inside the cellar.

Trapped for the weekend in the cellar, Archie discovers a bottle of vodka. He also discovers a tape recorder. Convinced he will die before anyone arrives back home, Archie, after several drinks of vodka, begins analyzing his time on earth, the rights versus the wrongs. He then activates the tape recorder and commences making out his last will-and-testament.

Having consumed the bottle of vodka, a blitzed Archie begins praying to the Lord, asking forgiveness for all his sins. At this point, Archie is both drunk and emotionally despondent.

Alas, Archie hears knocking on the cellar door! In his drunken state, he is convinced that, indeed, it is the Lord, Himself, knocking on the cellar door. Archie runs for the door, hollering, "I'm comin' Lord! I'm comin'!"

The cellar door opens, and in walks an imposing black man (working his usual route) with a deep bass voice. Archie's eyes bug, and he drops to his knees, convinced he is looking at the Lord. Archie says something to the effect of, "Oh, no, you are black, after all."

Archie then starts apologizing for the all the bad things he's ever said about blacks. The black man, merely doing his job, stares down at Archie. Much to his relief, it finally dawns on Archie the black man is not the Lord. Archie is greatly relieved. It is a priceless scene, my all-time favorite of any episode of "All in the Family."

Taking a relevant turn at this juncture, throughout the ages, there has been an ongoing argument that Jesus Christ possibly was black. Be such the truth, would that mean both God and the Holy Spirit are black? Neither an anthropologist nor a Biblical scholar, I'll reserve weighing in on that one at all.
Before lashing out at anyone because of his/her ethnicity, attempt to watch the episode "Archie in the Cellar" on "All in the Family," arguably the greatest scene on arguably the greatest television comedy of all time.

It just might adjust your attitude for the better.

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Mike Vinson
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