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-The Five Spot

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

vacuous vocabulary

First my dad, then Rum Punch. Both sent me links to an op/ed piece in the Washington Post – He’s Not Black. So, I read it. Yet prior to reading it, I read I’m Not Post-Racial– another op-ed featured in the Post too. Read them both – and hear me out.

Kudos for Krissah Williams Thompson for being a member of the media and distancing herself from the trend du jour. I know many of my friends and myself included cringe when hearing or reading the words post-racial, a term that seems to have plagued the very existence of Barack’s senatorial and presidential campaign. What does it mean? What are you trying to imply? White folks we understand you want your kumbaya moment, however if we’re to come together it won’t be exclusively on your terms.

Marie Arana, it’s nice that you’re able to identify with President Elect Obama as you see yourself as a mut. However, the immigrant experience is not the same as the black American experience. So, granted you perceive the President-Elect’s presidency a certain way, many do not share your perception. Many immigrants who come to the United States view this nation as the beacon of light on top of the hill, they recite and echo Horatio Alger’s principles. And yet for many citizens of the land – black Americans -- they endured and fought for basic rights, only denied because they were black. And these same black Americans are mixed too – don’t be fooled and think miscegenation didn’t occur over the 400 years during slavery because it did. Now what the mainstream has exercised the fancy of not discussing is that many blacks have white blood runnin’ through their veins – although for the most part not by choice (that’s neither here nor there, it’s history). And in addition to Caucasian ancestry, many blacks have native, indigenous blood runnin’ through them too. And although, many blacks are are aware of this miscegenation in their family tree, this country forbade them from acknowledging who they were. So, now the one thing that sets blacks apart— albeit skin color-- will not nor should be expected to be dismissed or diminished of its inherent value since the President-Elect is being openly acknowledged by the mainstream media as black. Many of us already know several US presidents who had negroid blood runnin’ through their veins (but again, it’s neither or here nor there, it's history).

So, Marie you accurately state, "Progress has outpaced vocabulary."interesting observation. Although, lets not forget progress has a subjective quality. So, yes the President-Elect’s historic presidential candidacy is progress, yet I’m sure you and I can have a lively debate about whether we’ve moved a foot or mile. Many black folks would challenge you on the progress made in American society. Let’s see many of us ain’t feelin’ the criminal justice system, labor statistics, media/Hollywood diversity. The other day when I was in the grocery story at the checkout counter 20 magazines were within my reach only 3 had black women on the cover and if you control for black ownership of magazines than none of the magazines featured a black women on the cover. Progress? Be careful what you say Marie. In the world of high-fashion, there’s a black-out of models. Progress?

Marie, clearly you missed the interview with the Greta van Sustern and the President-Elect as a presidential contender when he reminds Ms. van Sustern that race is still relevant in the United States, because upon departure he was fully aware nary one cabbie would stop for him New York City. Progress? Marie, race is still a salient factor of the American experience. And as that realization torments you rest assured, it torments us too. If you thought Americans could reconcile 4 centuries as a cliff note in the history books due to this historic election – your naivete has got the best of you.

Black folks we’ve got to be a bit more audible and visible when the mainstream tries to hurl these packaged soundbites. White folks we understand your hastiness to run away from the dark passages from American history, but check with us first – so we can keep it real wit’ cha!




Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

its only approproate since most folks have empty brains

Rum Punch said...

Well first I think the article title should have been: He's Not Just Black. But I suppose to create a "stir" they went w/ He's Not Black. Secondly, I heard what ol' girl was saying about "Hispanics" being mixed w/ a little of erythang, but let's not act like they don't have their own color complexes. You don't see dark Hispanics on Telemundo. And I guarantee at the Ms. Universe pageant, a Miss Dominican Republic will look anglo. So just because they "acknowledge" their racial mix up doesn't mean they have truly progressed. It all comes down to this: everyone wants a piece of the O man. You know black folks can't have nothing to themselves!

Bellini said...

@ torrance: lol -- ur too funny!

@ Rum Punch: tell it! -- Marie is not living under a rock. I happened to have skimmed her online discussion about the op/ed and some folks were grilling her with the points you mentioned and she meekly conceded the point. I'm a lil vexed that she stirred the pot when it was ueseless. Mainstream media doesn't have the gall to have bi-racial, multi-racial, etc. as their headline about the President-Elect be'cuz they themselves see him as black. But Marie chose not to examine that aspect of the story.