Is it time for the last first?

Long ago in the days of typewriters and carbon paper, I was editor of a small weekly newspaper in the Chicago suburbs.

I was blessed to have two energetic and enterprising reports on my staff.

One was a male with very traditional views of the role of women. Frankly, he was a bit of a Neanderthal.

The other was a female who was active in the local chapter of the National Organization for Women and an ardent feminist.

To the credit of both reporters, they kept their discussions spirited but respectful; I never had to break up a fight, physical or verbal.

I had not thought about those days for many years, but was reminded last week when I saw a major newspaper’s headline: “First Black Attorney General Resigns.” Yes, the attorney general was resigning. Yes, he is Black. But I wish we were beyond the “First” designation.

Why this made me think of my reporting staff was that the female member of the team was generating a constant stream of articles about women who were doing things for the first time:

• First woman fire fighter

• First woman police officer

• First woman telephone repair person

• First woman construction worker

Of course, this was the mid-1970s, and it seemed to be news that women were doing jobs traditionally done by men. Today, a woman working in construction would hardly be news. In fact, we’re getting to the point that a woman staying home to raise children might be odd enough to be news. But I’m bordering on being politically incorrect and we can’t have that.

And perhaps it is politically incorrect to suggest that we are – or ought to be – past the point of “First Black” being the first words in a headline when a cabinet member quits. We certainly can find something more significant to say about a man or woman than the color of their skin.



About Jim Fair

Jim Fair is a writer and consultant. He lives in the Chicago area and has a wonderful wife, son and daughter. He enjoys fishing and occasionally catches something. He tries to play the piano and sings a little. In addition to writing for Regnum Christi Live, he blogs at Laughing Catholic. And you can follow him on Twitter: Jim Fair (@fishfair).
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