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Posts Tagged ‘racism’

What about the President?

I’m sure there isn’t a bride of color anywhere in the US who wasn’t affected by the idiotic comments of Justice Keith Bardwell of Louisiana, about two weeks ago.

Having dealt with racism in its various forms my entire life (from the very overt to the completely subconscious), I am not at all shocked by these types of views. I am, however, disappointed and annoyed, for all kinds of reasons.

I have a strong suspicion that Bardwell’s comments about interracial children are just a cop-out, a  half-assed attempt to justify what is nothing more than blatant racism. After all, what if the couple in question turns out to be infertile? What if they decide to adopt? I just think these statements are too clueless and “See? This is for the greater good!” to be true. They just don’t make enough sense.

First of all, blacks have a long history of accepting mixed-race children… after all, nearly all of us who are African American (that is, descended from slaves) have some race mixing in our history. Yes, there are a few blacks who (often justifiably) worry for the well-being of a mixed child, mostly due to the racism they’ve experienced themselves. But really, how out of touch do you have to be to realize that some of the most famous Blacks in America, rightly or wrongly, are mixed-race themselves? And, it bears pointing out, there’s the President! Wasn’t he voted in by Americans of all races? More evidence, to me at least, that Mr. Bardwell is severely out of touch.

I just think Bardwell is a racist. I also think he is not alone.

When my (white) fiancé was born, interracial marriage was still illegal in 17 U.S. states. No one needs to point out the ugly legacy of racism that we still deal with on a daily basis. If anything, Mr. Bardwell is a reminder, to me and to anyone else entering into an interracial marriage, that it won’t be particularly easy all the time, and that we (and our “mixed” kids) will have some idiots to deal with.

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“Silent Invasion” [Every economic crisis needs a scapegoat]

This NYT article (from this Sunday’s edition) made me terribly upset.

The story is about a town in Texas and its mayor’s struggle with the issue of immigration. Apparently, the Hispanic population has soared, and the whites, no longer the majority, are feeling “invaded.” The article points out that Mayor Geary has “hispanic friends” (citing his favorite waitress and a co-worker, sounding eerily like all those racists that say, “I have black friends! One of them cleans my house”), but also engineered the city’s unprecedented “Hispanic Round-up,” where anyone who seemed illegal was taken away–even legal immigrants. The phrases that stuck out for me were:

“Silent invasion”

“Anyone who comes across the border should be shot” (This one met with applause) !!

“They don’t have any culture”

“Good old boy”

“Us”

“Them”

This whole paranoia & hysteria is Jim Crow all over again, but with a dangerous new economic “justification.” What a nightmare.

The comments reflect similar ignorances, with people saying to “take back America” and using the familiar “Go back to Africa Mexico” rhetoric. Also jumping into the fray are a few self-hating Latinos and legal immigrants, and a few logical voices suggesting some sort of compromise that doesn’t involve skin color or language.

My new catchphrase is, “What is wrong with everybody?” I say this all the time.

No, you’re NOT “just like me”

What a nightmare. The success of America’s new Republican friend represents everything wrong with race relations in America right now.

I can’t count how many things irritated me about her performance in the vice presidential debate, but I was especially irritated at her “Just like you” crap. Think of the implications of this!

So, once again, her pitch is that we should vote for her because she, a white woman, best represents America, instead of the scary “other,” represented by Barack. Arrrgh!!! When will this stop? I am tired!

For years, black & white women have had an uncomfortable relationship. Going back to slavery, when the house slave was usually a black woman who performed all the same functions as the “wife” but without the legitimacy, there has always been the assumption that, as a black woman, or as a black person, you could do as well as a white person or even better — but it will never count for anything.

Ms. Sarah is yet another “white girl” whose rise to the top is meteoric almost unbelievable — if you didn’t consider America’s racial history and who she’s running against.

She is undeniably wrong, however. Instead of an elite, exclusionary “white Suburban woman” message (if I hear “hockey mom” one more time I will SCREAM), Barack represents and embodies everything we need to move forward in this country. Barack really is America, and everyone, black white or whatever, can see themselves in his face. This is so plainly obvious to me that I don’t understand why we even have to have discussions like this.

I’ve got to go find something happy to write about!

The Price of Integration

September 29, 2008 Leave a comment

I’m a hard core supporter of Barack Obama, since before that February 2007  announcement speech. I have followed his campaign and thought about it intelligently, discussed it, internalized the meaning.

But it wasn’t until I saw Barack’s biographical video during the convention that I finally burst into tears. I allowed myself to feel the gravity of this historic nomination, and it was overwhelming.

Finally, I connected Obama’s candidacy with all the crap I deal with on a daily basis; the daily beat-down of going to work with racists every day, with every single “n” word utterance I’ve had to endure, every time someone has refused me service or refused to hire me, the teachers that didn’t want me in their class. With all the horrible stories my mom has shared, my grandmother and even further back. With all of us.

Other blacks — mostly ones at least a generation older (I’m nearly 30) — had publicly acknowledged this connection months and months ago. What on earth took me so long?

Before Obama was officially nominated, I think there was an implicit pressure for blacks to deny voting for Barack simply because of his race. We didn’t want him branded as the “black” candidate, we didn’t want our Patriotism questioned. It’s a dance he still has to do; he can’t get to angry lest he be labeled an “angry black man.” He can’t be too humorous; don’t want any “shuckin’ & jivin'” comparisons. He must be absolutely perfect, because as many of us are painfully aware, blacks must be 10 times better than whites to be considered equal.

It’s quite possible, however, that there’s a deeper societal message at work here. As a member of the first “integration generation,” I grew up thrust into academic, social, and professional competition with the “mainstream.” In order to be seen as a success, we must be black enough to appease our families but not black enough to alienate whites. In these environments, we spend so much time proving that we can be “one of them” that we must get dangerously close to the “sell-out” line.

Endorsing a black candidate for more obvious reasons upsets this delicate balance. Unlike blacks of previous generations, who spent so much time fighting for civil rights that they could not hope to blend in much, blacks of my generation equate success with a degree of assimilation. Reminding whites that you are black; that your values, history, and viewpoints can be so uncomfortably different than theirs; feels like a threat to everything your parents have worked for.

I certainly didn’t choose Barack over Hilary only because he is black. He shares my views and opinions, he’s obviously qualified and incomparably brilliant, and in a strange bit of trivia, he & I have the same personality type (NFP). There is a reason Jesse Jackson didn’t get as far as Obama has.

But–did you see what just happened? Here is the obvious testament to the mind-fuck of racism — why should I have to justify my support for a candidate who represents me better than any presidential candidate in history? On my own blog, in my own mind? How deeply ingrained are these screwed-up American values?

You’ve got to be kidding.

August 12, 2008 1 comment

Black is Black is Black…

A friend asked me today if I ever was called names growing up, since I, an “articulate” classical pianist, never quite met the “definition” of what a black person should be.

Yes, of course! I was called all manner of names–sellout, oreo, whitewash, etc. etc. It’s an interesting form of sub-racism, one which has come up more than ever, now that Mr. Obama is in the limelight and forcing us to confront our stereotypes.

I am so tired of the “Are you black enough?” issue, probed extensively in articles like this one following the “Black in America” CNN special.

The problem is that the question is being asked in the first place. Both whites and blacks who feel the need to ask if us non-traditional folk are “black enough” are victims of the greater stereotype. Blacks who define themselves by stereotypes are especially tragic, since, as Michael Dyson says, they are “subjugating themselves–” limiting their own possibilities based on a severely narrow and self-defeating definition. By even implying that there is a “definition” of blackness, you are acknowledging that definition and, therefore, empowering it.

I have dealt with racism literally all my life (I was first called the *n* word in preschool at age 3). I understand it and continue to deal with it on a daily basis. But the most painful racism is the kind that comes from the one group of people who should understand most.