Monday, January 26, 2009

Racism is dead! Long live racism!

Many have said that with the election of President Obama, racism is now dead. I beg to differ. First of all, there is the resurgence of racist jokes that I've heard recently. And all the jokes about the new president relate to race. Yes, I understand that there will be jokes at the expense of President Obama. I'm fine with that. Joke about his smoking. Joke about his views. Hell, joke about his pool or basketball. But jokes about his race are off limits. And those are the ONLY "jokes" I've heard. The mildest is "can they still call it the White House?" They get worse from there.

If you care to read the story, a Greenwich Village bakery is selling "Drunken Negro Face" cookies. I just don't even know where to start on these cookies, yummy though they do look. Is it the drippy gobs of chocolate that form caricatured features? Is it the maraschino cherry eyes giving the appearance of someone who's been on a three-day bender? Or maybe it's the exaggerated grin that perpetuates the "they're such a happy people" stereotype.

The proprietor has apologized and insists he's not racist. He can't be, see, because he has a Cuban in his family.

However, I don't see this as the problem. I see it as a symptom of the problem. The problem is that racism is bubbling just beneath the surface of the psyche in the US. As we never address it, it just keeps getting pushed deeper and deeper.

Ever have a splinter? If you can get the splinter out right away, it's not too bad. If you can't get it out, it festers and swells with the growing infection, getting uglier and more dangerous to our health.

The splinter in the US is racism. And for over 40 years, ever since we "defeated" racism with the Civil Rights laws, the splinter has been festering as we have simply refused to deal with it and tried to define it out of existence.

Recently we've seen some places where the ugly infection has burst through, tragically. For descriptions of recent events, see Kit's blog. She sees these events as an "Open Season on Black Men," the title of her post. Her explanation is that there is white frustration and anger at President Obama's election. Perhaps Kit is right. I don't express as well as she does, obviously. I just see it a racism rearing its ugly head again. The festering sore coming to a head.

So what can and should we do? WEll, let's get that damn splinter out. When you hear a racist comment, speak up. "Oh, I don't think that's so," can be an effective phrase. I've said "I just don't see the humor in that" when told a racist joke. You'd be amazed how often white people are assumed to condone a racist joke just because we're white.

I'm often called hypersensitive. "After all, one of them is now in the White House." The fact that there is an "us" and a "them" is telling enough. I'm waiting and working for the time when there's simply an American in the White House, with no qualifiers.

That's all I know how to do. I'm certainly open to suggestions from my sage readers.

12 comments:

unsilentmajority said...

I don't know if it's racism as much as it is stupidity.

Donutbuzz said...

Last month on the radio, I recall hearing Michael Feldman tell a "joke" on "Whaddya Know" that related to Obama's race. It fell completely flat--nobody laughed and there were a couple of audible groans. It was pretty clear that nobody saw any humor in it.

crystal dawn said...

The racial subtleties are all there to see, especially from radio pundits. I'm also receiving joke after email joke with the emphasis on his race.

The greatest tragedy is that his multi-racial background actually gives him a greater perspective of our multi-racial country. Sorry for the whities, but America is slowly turning brown.

MountainLaurel said...

Unsilent, stupidity can explain some of it but there's still an undercurrent of racism. And the events that Kit describes can only be explained by racism.

Donutbuzz, I'm both horrified and heartened by your report. Horrified that anyone would think that is appropriate for broadcast and heartened by the reaction.

Crystal Dawn, I've purposely left the radio pundits out of it as they're obviously not sane. Nothing some carefully prescribed meds can't help, though.

I would say that the tragedy is that you and I are in the minority of those who see that we need ALL of us, black, brown, red, white, yellow, to make our country the greatest it can be.

JDB said...

I'd just like to point out that, after all the crap WV got during the election over racial issues, that this happened smack dab in the middle of New York City. Which only shows that it happens everywhere, of course, but still.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

ML, I stang toe to toe with the racist assholes and look em straight in the eye and say, "so you think that just because I'm white I will laugh and/or put up with your racist bullshit?" Sometimes I tell them my daughter-in-law is black (I don't have a daughter-in-law) or something like that just to make it personal and really make em feel uncomfortable. Mzybe next time they will think twice before blurting out their stench. At all cost, do not say nothing. As white people with some consciousness, we must speak out no matter who makes the comment. In fact, we must speak out loudly and with indignation NO MATTER WHO SAYS IT!

Robin S. said...

You know, maybe this is a good thing. Obama's election shook up the status quo, and it's forcing some of the "silent", closet racism to the surface, where those of us who are, you know, civilized, can confront it as SagaciousHillbilly said. We'd gotten rid of most of the most egregious manifestations, but so much of it was still brewing just beneath the surface -- now we may have a better opportunity to root out the rest and get rid of this crap.

Robin S. said...

You know, maybe this is a good thing. Obama's election shook up the status quo, and it's forcing some of the "silent", closet racism to the surface, where those of us who are, you know, civilized, can confront it as SagaciousHillbilly said. We'd gotten rid of most of the most egregious manifestations, but so much of it was still brewing just beneath the surface -- now we may have a better opportunity to root out the rest and get rid of this crap.

MacDaddy said...

I agree. The racism stuff about President Obama, or anyone, should be off limits. As for stupidity, I've found that, when it comes to racism and sexism, some prefer to remain stupid so as to maintain a false sense of superiority. They need to be called on it so their choice to be stupid will have less room to poison the rest of us.

MountainLaurel said...

Robin, I tend to agree. If we can get it out into the open we can deal with it. Hide it, and it's going to continue to fester.

MacDaddy, I think you've really hit the nail on the head. I think there's that small contingent that says, "well, I may not be the most successful in the world, but at least I'm white" or "at least I'm a man." I think this contingent feels quite threatened.

There's room enough at the table for ALL of us. I hope that folks can see this.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Laurel, I'm really late in getting in on this conversation, but I loved you saying this:

I'm often called hypersensitive. "After all, one of them is now in the White House." The fact that there is an "us" and a "them" is telling enough. I'm waiting and working for the time when there's simply an American in the White House, with no qualifiers.

Amen to that.

Buzzardbilly said...

I think it is stupidity until someone points out to the stupid soul who said something racist without thinking. If they carry on beyond that: It's racism. Unless, of course, the idiot was a racist to begin with.

The use of the word idiot was redundant there, wasn't it? Racists are idiots. It goes without saying.