The epiphany came while disking a field in 1984. "Journalist" would be a great job. "Sportswriter" would be even better — getting paid to go watch games would be the ultimate cush career.
It wasn't until the career changed from amateur to pro (literally, if not qualitatively) that the sportswriting took a backseat to the uncommonly satisfying practice of writing commentary. But with the newfound bully pulpit also came a great responsibility to champion, if not crusade, for a worthy cause.
And so, for nearly two decades, issues of inequality based on skin tone served as a regular theme. (This would be the time to say that the terms "white" and "black" just don't make sense. No one is white. No one is black. All of us have some hue. Call it "myte" or "mylack".)
Thanks to that track record — and the requisite life's actions to support the position — "race" is a topic that's not the unfamiliar, uncertain booger bear that it is for others who haven't fully contemplated their positions or developed their ideals.
From that vantage, scenes from recent days serve to only entrench the stereotypes, though perhaps the stereotypes have been right all along. Consider three examples:
• Last week's Republican National Convention included a few non-"white" speakers, as if to pacify the viewing audience, but look at the field of delegates. Red. White. Blue. Not much "black."
It's no secret that self-identified GOP members trend heavily "white" and that the party is popular in states likely to fly the "Stars and Bars" unofficially (and officially from time to time). Seeing the "white"-ness of the audience hammered home that the party truly is nearly homogenous.
That's an obvious fact, so why won't GOP leaders acknowledge as much? Why do they insist on the charade of "appealing" to minority voters?
•The reunion of a high school class in Louisiana, which only this year (30th) finally allowed all members of the class to attend, will feature an after-party — but only for the light-skinned of the group.
The party is a private function, and any American can socialize with anyone or without anyone he sees fit, but the organizers shouldn't have noted the pigmentation restrictions on the invitation. Hard to deny that down the road. Really? In 2012, our neighbors to the south still feel a need to break off into c(K?)lans to have a party.
• Bringing sports full circle, a Notre Dame radio announcer, Allen Pinkett, recently theorized that the football Fighting Irish need "criminals" on the team. You know, the "criminals" would likely be edgier and more capable players.
The question is: Did Pinkett mean booked-into-jail criminals or was he visualizing the mug shots of All-Americans who happen to have a dark face?
It's a small step, not a leap of faith, to look at the rosters of powerhouse football factories and understand that the likelihood of a "black" player getting into trouble is proportional to the percentage of "black" players on the teams.
Leave for another day the question of whether people with certain genetic qualities generally make better athletes, though that's an interesting question as well.
Post-racial America. What a joke! Race pervades most every segment of our society. From our politics to our games, we ignore or address the issue at our own pace, which sometimes means not at all.
The most disappointing aspect of all? No commentary will change that.
Ernest Dumas is on vacation. Rick Fahr is a long-time Arkansas journalist.