Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On Race and Reason(ableness)

Sometimes you just don't want to wade in some pools, and that was how I felt about the NAACP's call for the Tea Party people to call out and expel the racists in their midst. It is as reasonable a call, as the call for groups like the NAACP to call out say the New Black Panther Party people (who are like a crazy/racist swirl of who knows what). Then, a Tea Party person decided that not only was he offended that the NAACP would even suggest that race played any sort of role in the actions of Tea Party people (impossible right?), but he also had to put his thoughts in a blog post that managed to prove the NAACP's point. Now that Tea Party person has been ousted. My guess is that people will now be satisfied that he was the only one with any hint of racism within the movement.

We move now to today, and the game of tit for tat has been elevated. A random Agriculture Department Obama appointee has resigned under pressure after it was suggested that she was being racist, during her tenure at the Agriculture Department, against white farmers, and it was all caught on video, and the video was of a local Georgia NAACP meeting earlier this year. Total bitch slap back to the NAACP, so there.

However, now it's beginning to look like the appointee in question was explaining, in a parable of sorts, how she felt back in '85-'86 about a white farmer seeking her help when she was with a non-profit, not the Department of Agriculture as had been suggested (once the unedited video is released, we will find out). The parable reflected on her decision not to succumb to her own racist and vengeful thoughts of not helping this white farmer. Instead, she decides to offer help to a person in need. Even that white farmer now corroborates that story, and adds that the appointee in question has been a friend for years.

Race remains an issue in this country, and we need to stop pretending that it doesn't. Most of us put up our respective guards, ignore the obvious one way or another, and assume the worst about whatever person (and concomitantly the group to which that person belongs) we disagree with. We all do it. Do I think we need some big "national conversation" on race? No. But I think we do need to talk with people we know, and at least try to sort things out in our own spheres. I've had some interesting and sometimes infuriating conversations with friends about race and history and current events. Some of those conversations have happened here. Some of those conversations worried me that friendships might have been frayed (I hope not). Yet, we will never get anywhere, if we refuse to understand, at the very least, another person's perspective.

I think that Attorney General Eric Holder was, in retrospect, correct in calling most of us cowards. It's not an easy conversation to have, and it is not fun. But, if we want to get to the point where we can "move on," and I mean most of us (the true racists never will move on), then we have to, at some point, have occasional discussions among friends, and hope that those friends will have their own discussions with their friends if the issue arises.

What we don't need is what we have been seeing and reading of late.


Rhen said...

I had a conversation about three years ago with two of my friends who are professors at a private college about the current status of race relations in this country. Their argument was that race relations were better than they'd ever been before. I accused them of looking through the rose-colored glasses of their private school experience and told them if they wanted the "true" experience, then they should come work a shift with me at Walmart.
After Obama won the democratic primary and up to his election, their private college began having racial tensions, prompting several professors to write an open letter questioning the safety of their minority students.
I believe that the only reason that race relations seem to have progressed is that it's now illegal to do many of the things that were done in the "Jim Crow" era. It actually depresses me, a student of the "grand social experiment" of desegregation. I had hoped that we would have progressed much further as a society by now, and it leaves me with little hope about full civil rights for all people.

Art said...

Wow. I think to your friends' credit, they are thinking about race more than most. In my experience, most white people think that race is no longer or should no longer be an issue. This was even before Obama. I am sure it is an even more prevalent opinion now. Of course that is ridiculous, but I do think things are marginallly better.

I would be happy to have that conversation with you if we could find the time.

Ron Ward said...

all im saying is: saying it is "so" well, it doesn't make it necessarily "so". strides have been made, but at the expense of some folks that don't like seeing what could be perceived as a level playing field. loud race conscious squeaky wheels ... in my experience i think race is something that is more prevalent than many of us want to admit and that's why it is always "off the table", but lurking in some back room messing with our perception and judgment. then again i believe just because someone says that they don't think something should be an issue does not nullify what it is like to be on the receiving end. unfortunately, despite all the enlightenment and all the education one may receive regarding another person's experiences, unless you walk in their shoes, you can't really tell them its time to move on. this is really tricky, who is to really say "get over it!". that usually comes from folks who may (or may not) have conquered their own demons or just don't want to face other people's very real fears. i guess these events only show that just because someone says its "so" doesn't mean its "so" until it is felt by both parties. time to start talking folks and quit acting like we've got it allllll figured out! (as usual please forgive all typographical and grammatical errors - thanks)

TC said...

Were the comments about Fox News edited out of this post? Or was I dreaming that I read them yesterday?

hscfree said...

@TC: I haven't touched this post since its publication. I didn't mention FNC in here at all.