Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The "race card"

Probably against my best judgment, yes, I'm going there. I will probably get some backlash, being a full-blooded white girl (English and German mainly...about as white as white gets), so according to some, I may not understand this from the point of view of someone who isn't, but I feel like the things I need to say need to be said, so here goes. I will try to stick to the facts, and back them up, as best I can though, so hopefully that will eliminate the possibility of conjecture.

Again, these are only MY opinions, and if you dispute them, PLEASE do so with respect, remember that I am a REAL PERSON with REAL FEELINGS, and back them with facts. Thanks!

Its no secret to anyone that a lot of racial remarks have been in the news as of late. Everyone, from the political left to the political right, has an opinion, and many are all up in arms over it. My husband had the TV on for a while last night (I forget what show it was, though he assures me it was NOT Fox News, as I originally though), and pretty much the entire hour was spent discussing (more like having a hoot and holler fest over) the whole Harry Reid remark that Obama is a "light skinned African American....with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

Okay, so yeah, the comments were in pretty poor taste, and pretty tacky, with outdated terminology (Negro...?!? Are we back in the 1800's?!), but do I believe he is a racist? No. Do I believe he should lose his job over a tasteless remark alone? No. And more importantly, does President Obama, whom the remarks were made about, take it as a personal attack or hold a grudge? No. So then, WHY all the media attacks and scrutinies? I do think Obama and the African American community at large were owed an apology, but Reid has apologized, and Obama has accepted the apology saying it was no big deal (quite a few times now!). Also, it has been stated by numerous sources, including Reid himself, that the comments were actually meant in a positive light and were taken out of context. Again, that doesn't negate the fact they were horribly tacky, but their true intent wasn't to be hurtful or offensive. So....can we just drop it and move on already?!

This has opened up a can of worms, an "investigation," (and in my opinion, a modern-day witch hunt) into all other "supposed" racial remarks made by politicians, including Bill Clinton's comment about Obama to Ted Kennedy that, "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee." Okay, again, maybe not the most couth thing to say, but let's face it, its the truth, no?! Prior to the Civil War and the life-long work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and countless others, that would have been the case. Anybody who knows anything about American history knows that. I would venture to say even my 8 year old knows that! (I will come back to that point in a minute.)

Then there's Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who made the off-the-cuff comment that he was "blacker than Barack Obama", which apparently was meant to mean that Blagojevich grew up under poorer circumstances than President Obama did. Again, tacky and tasteless, yes, but HELLO, it was a JOKE!! Comedians make worse jokes than that ALL THE TIME, and people don't call them out for it!!

For example, there is this sketch by Dave Chapelle. (Watchers beware!! Your jaw just may hit the floor!) Are you KIDDING me?!?!! HOW is that less offensive than the remarks of Reid, Clinton, and Blagojevich?!?!!

Ohhhh...riiiight, because it wasn't made by a white person!

There is this new term now, when referring to racism, called "reverse racism." I find this term completely outrageous, and here's why. Racism is racism, is racism, is racism!! Whether it be by a white person toward a black person, by a Native American toward a latino, by a latino toward a Middle Easterner (sorry...I can't remember the PC term...whoops), or a black person toward a white person! In any and every context, its NOT right!! Its demeaning and degrading!!

Here's a prime example for you. When my brother was a sophomore in high school, he decided to spend a semester in North Carolina with my grandparents. The high school he attended there had a much higher population of African American students than the school he attended in Eureka, California, where we grew up. There was a black student there who pretty much made it his job to torment my brother with all sorts of racist, derogatory remarks, such as "f-ing cracker," among other horrible things. And this kid got away with it because, if my brother had retaliated and called the kid an n-word, it would have gotten him expelled and or beat to a bloody pulp (or both). But because it was from a black kid directed at a white kid, it was considered no big deal, and there was nothing my brother could say or do except ignore it and bite his tongue.

While we all say we have moved past racism, and are living in the "post-racial era of Obama," let's face it, there are still stereotypes and what I believe to be 150 year old grudges being held. I'll admit, us white Americans tend to have a bad history of being bullies toward other races. We came to America and pushed the Native Americans out of the land they had been living on for centuries (perhaps even milleniums!). We captured African Americans out of their homelands, brought them over on crowded boats in horrid conditions, and bought and sold them as property. That NEVER should have happened!!

However, what people forget are all the lives of white American settlers who saw that this was wrong, and sacrificed their lives trying to remedy the situation during the Civil War. And the outcome of that war was the first huge step toward equality for all. Did things change overnight? No. Did countless activists such as Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have to take up the fight many years later? Yes, they did. And what were the results? Hightened equality for all.

Today, America is probably the biggest "melting pot" in the world. People come here, sometimes risking their lives (those who fled Vietnam are the first to come to mind....I have friends and relatives who can tell some very harrowing stories!), and often leaving their families behind, in order to have a life of prosperity in the "land of the free and home of the brave" established in our Constitution. They know that here they will be free, safe, protected, prosperous through hard work, and equal. People know here they will be free of oppression. Yet, I believe many keep themselves oppressed.

The African Americans of today, to touch on one just one of many races, have been offered all the same freedoms and benefits of the rest of us; the right to education, the right to work hard and prosper financially (hello...Oprah!!), the right to safety and freedoms. In fact, with the outdated, unfair implementation of Affirmative Action (I won't even go on that tangent!), perhaps even MORE! Yet, many take that for granted, in my opinion. They still "fight" against the oppression of their ancestors. WHY?!? These individuals say they want to move forward, and that they want equality. But how can you move forward when you are stuck trying to get retribution, even revenge, for things that happened waaaaay before they, or their parents, or their grandparents, were even born?!? Or take every single little thing ever said against, or even percieved as against, your race, personally? (And every race does this, not just African Americans....just so we're clear on that.) People say and do stupid, hurtful (whether intentionally or unintentionally) things every single day, its a fact of life. Get over it! We can't erase the past, but we can forgive for it and move forward, accepting and exercising the freedoms we are ALL afforded in this great nation, which include the same rights for everyone across the board; every religion, every race, every sexual orientation (save the right to marry), every age, every political affiliation, every economic bracket....

We SAY we have arrived at equality and put race issues to bed. We say everyone is created equal. We say that we have entered a new era. But have we?? We should have gotten there by now, but we haven't, which is really sad, and a slap in the face toward EVERYONE of EVERY race, and certainly toward all those in American history who have fought for it! If we haven't moved past it, then we are keeping ourselves stuck in the notion that everyone is NOT created equal. But we are. The Bible says it, our Constitution says it... What more do you want?!! There's nothing else we can do or give, its just a matter of embracing it now. Its a matter of forgiveness, and offering the olive branch to others, even those whom we don't fully understand or see eye to eye with. Its about respect and love for your fellow man - no matter what they look like or where they come from. And really, is that so hard to do? We ALL need to see EVERYONE through the same eyes. No enemies, no oppressors, no "less thans." Only people who, like you, want freedom and equality to prevail, and are willing to put their differences aside and work toward the common goal.

Come on, America! We've fought tougher battles than that, so let's reach that goal, shall we?!! :)

1 comment:

Joyful_Momma said...

Excellent post!

I do think that some of the 'black leadership' (those that are the loudest since I don't think that any group really needs a leader in that way) feed off of making this an issue. They stir up strife instead of trying to calm things down. What is so funny about that is that those same people are prosperous and have a significant amount of political clout. It's like they are saying, "I made it without affirmative action, but you can't" I would find that insulting.

I also think that it is silly to get worked up over name-calling. Reminds me of my kids! LOL "She called me stupid!" My response, "Well are you stupid? If you're not then don't worry about what she said!"