Saturday, February 19, 2011

there's no such thing as a post-racial society

if you're so detached from reality that you honestly believe that we as a nation are living in a post-racial society, then anything i have to say probably won't change your mind. perhaps you live in an international city that's especially segregated (and racist!), like los angeles. maybe you don't know any black people. i don't mean the guy at work that chats with you at the water cooler, or those nice africans you talk to over coffee after church. i mean an ongoing relationship that would ultimately dispel a lot of myths and give some insight as to what's actually going on around here. perhaps you're on some sort of cultural sedative -- the kind that has you whole-heartedly believing whatever the media force feeds you, not necessarily because you're daft but because you really want that claptrap to be true.

or you know what. none of this means anything to you because your life pretty much flows like an episode of friends or sex and the city -- people of color are background talent in your (new york city!) life. occasionally, some negro walks through the frame on his way somewhere. or he makes you a latte, or a cocktail, or a sandwich. or he has sex with you. and that's about it.

the system that this country is based upon is designed to give me every disadvantage as a person of color. ignoring this simple fact about how america works doesn't mean that race is irrelevant. it means that you're deluding yourself. and that's fine, i suppose. apparently, you can afford to wear blinders. i can't.

help me, someone said to me recently -- a dirty white boy of epic proportions, a borderline hipster. smart, well-intentioned and lost, lost, lost. not surprisingly, he said it with feeling. he had just made a remark to a few of us that made one sister gasp involuntarily. i think he was genuinely embarassed.

i laughed in his face. save yourself, i said. but i find it difficult to ignore someone when they're drowning right in front of me, so i threw him a line and gave him a book to read.

i'll let you know how he's doing from time to time. until that next sunny dispatch, here's a glimpse of his required reading list.
  1. White Like Me: Reflections on Race From a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
  2. Toms, Coons, Mammies, Mulattoes and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Film by Donald Bogle
  3. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula Giddings
  4. The Price of the Ticket by James Baldwin
  5. Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the America by Eduardo Bonillo-Silva


AJ Muhammad said...

We do live in a post-racial society where as the poet Jayne Cortez says, "Everything is wonderful" in her poem but what Jayne really means is that it couldn't be further from the truth.

Forget about L.A.! New York is an international city that's segregated as any! The schools, housing, the restaurants, and in some places even the businesses where Black and Latino people are security guards, front line service staff and the non Black and Brown people are in the ivory towers, pulling the strings! Across the boards! That goes for the financial industry, the arts and entertainment field, the fashion industry, transit, education etc. And it seems like it's getting worse especially with the revamping of Manhattan.

And why do you have to be the one that has to save someone who is lost/enlighten them because they are too privileged to realize it or is oblivious to the struggle? It always seems like it's up to The Other to have to show the white capitalist patriarchy/the dominant group the error of their ways; the errors of the ignorant.

Let's see if after he has read at of that, he will use his agency or complexion that gets the connections to create social change or be the change! I am not holding my breath! But it could happen to him! We'll see! As you sang it's time for us to "Get Real"

queenesther said...

heh. i love jayne cortez.

nyc is segregated, and it is getting worse but at least there are moments when you interact with people who aren't anything like you. that simply doesn't happen in la -- partly because everyone is in a car. you sit next to everyone on the subway. we're never losing that.

they're squeezing out the middle class and homogenizing everything in this city. you can call that revamped if you want to. sounds like a death rattle to me.

i'm not "saving" anyone. that's Jesus' job, not mine. i'm just passing along some information. who knows if he'll absorb it? that's true of anyone, you know. i don't know if you've noticed but there's a lot of unenlightened oblivious black folk out here...