Can we please – please, please, please – start a substantive conversation on race in America? There are ground rules though – no kicking, screaming, eye-gouging or biting allowed. All participants have to agree not to put on silly hats or funky bandanas and march around with crosses or guns. Think I’m being facetious? OK – try having this discussion without the accompanying folderol. Someone always has to start the button pushing – and immediately the ears close, the mouths open and for all intents and purposes we might as well be at a Jerry Springer taping.
Well this shit has to stop. If it doesn’t, we face the kind of internal civil war that will make any WTO protests begin to resemble water balloon fights. Everybody is teetering on the verge of getting monumentally pissed – and those crosses and guns might end up being replaced with much scarier weapons. Not possible, says you? Where have you been lately? Spend much time in trees, do you? Oh, I know – you’re one of our many fellow Americans who trundle on through life as if living in the antebellum south. Well things, they are a’ changin’ – and you’d better join in the discussion now, my dears; or trust me – you will end up staring at the chaos that surrounds you in smothered in confusion, wondering just how in hell we all got to this point.
Let’s start with the overt behaviors – I am constantly amazed by all the idiots who think because we share a skin tone, we must therefore share the exact same racist thoughts. As a matter of fact since Katrina, I have heard more bullshit regarding class, culture and race than in the last five years combined. I remember a time I was trapped on the `L’ heading into Chicago from the airport. This dreadful man just started spewing garbage about how much he hated every African-American person on the train. Even after I told him to shut the fuck up – he continued – droning on, and on. The bastard followed me as I moved from seat to seat in an attempt to escape. God! No matter what I said, he just kept on talking, as if I really wasn’t there; as if his need to vent superseded everyone else’s civil and human rights. I finally just got off and caught another train. By the way – haven’t you noticed that incidents such as this are on the rise? I have heard unbelievably outrageous comments from neighbors, store clerks – even some asshole standing next to me in line. I most always say something; tell the person why they’re wrong, or just to go get bent – even though I know any attempt to change such small minds is a total waste. It reminds me of something Heinlein said – Never try to teach a pig to sing; because it wastes your time and annoys the pig.
Well those minds had damn well better change – and soon. We are letting ourselves down as human beings if we allow such ignorance to continue. We are also letting America down. Just look at the reactions to Katrina for your answer. We really need to talk, folks – on a national level – about why the have-nots in America are almost always someone of color. About why gender and race are inextricably linked when it comes to equal pay for equal work. About why young, male African Americans make up such a high percentage of incarcerations in this country. All important subjects, all barely touched on whenever the issue of race comes up. I could hope to say this constant avoidance amazes me – but unfortunately it does not. Too many years, too much stupidity for that. It does seem, however, that peoples true feelings are surfacing over this emphasis on color; on whether or not the ethnicity of those poor bastards seen begging for help while knee-deep in contaminated water merits discussion. Hello!! The answer is yes, of course it does – they were left to rot, are still being left to rot – and that will always be wrong by any sort of measure.
Do you all know what the loss will be if our nation drives itself to the brink of class warfare? For all of us? God – even the thought of something like that happening has me near folded over with grief. So, what’s the answer? What has turned seemingly intelligent, compassionate people towards the stereotypical (re: simple)? Is it fear? Because I really can’t think of anything else that elicits such overt reactions. And if so – if all this really is about being afraid – of what? What is so scary about equality for EVERYBODY? Today is the anniversary of Rosa Parks historic, shattering ride through a segregated town in Alabama. We honor her courage in our nations Capitol, while kicking to the curb everything she and that ride stood for. So – does ethnicity impact how we see both our country and our lives? The answer seems to be yes; and that just about breaks my heart.
Cross-posted at dKos and MyDD