Thursday, February 15, 2007

Biden's Comments Nothing New

Believe it or not, I appreciated Sen. Biden's faux pas because no matter the spin, it speaks to that huge institutionalized elephant in the corner called racism that a lot of people White AND Black still refuse to address.

While I expect them to continue saying to Black America, "Get over it, racism doesn't exist anymore," I am continually surprised that as more and more of us "make it" financially in America, we too have bought into white America's mantra that the problem in America is more one of classism than racism.

While classism is, in fact, a problem for members of ALL races who find themselves in less-than-powerful positions, it is not the only, nor is it the biggest problem for Blacks in America. Slavery, Black Codes and Jim Crow made certain of that.

Sen. Biden's slip of the lip illustrates what many whites, STILL think about us as a people. It is the stereotype they've passed down to their children and continue to perpetuate on a daily basis in all walks of life. It's a way of thinking about us that they've even passed on to other races, oftentimes forcing a wedge between Blacks and other minorities. Divide and conquer still seems to work very well in America.

Not until we, as a people, understand that whites in America are not the "Deciders" of what is good, right and "mainstream" in this country, will things change. Not until we no longer have this great need, either consciously or subconsciously, to be approved of or accepted by them, will things change. When I see either of the above - and I often do - I'm reminded of a quote from Harriett Tubman which is one of my favorites, "I freed a thousand slaves. I could've freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves."

There's room at the table for everybody if everybody's prepared to take a seat. And being prepared by no means suggests being totally absorbed into a culture at the expense of who we are and from where we've come.

I find it insulting and pretty funny when white people tell me, "Oh, when I talk to you, I don't see color!" What the hell does that mean???

It's insulting because not seeing me as a Black woman diminishes who I am in this country today by negating all those who've come before me and the sacrifices they made. It suggests that in order to see me or treat what I say and do as valid, one has to take color out of the equation. I'm more of a tossed salad kind of girl myself. That melting pot thing totally erases the unique flavor we bring to the table.

It's funny because our very existence in this country springs from IT NEVER HAVING BEEN COLORBLIND. When they didn't have to worry about being sued or our color affecting their bottom lines, bloodlines or election outcomes, they could've cared less about this colorblind society they now so vociferously tout.

I'm convinced that had it not been for the heroic efforts of Blacks AND some whites who were not afraid to lay down their lives to speak truth to power which forced a change in the way we were treated in this country, we'd still be living in the lily-white society that denied us basic human rights, visiting some of the most horrific acts of torture and death on an entire race of people for hundreds of years. Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein had nothing on this country in the area of ethnic-cleansing if we are honest. But by all means, let's just forgive AND forget our history in this country.

If I thought they'd really learned from history, I'd probably have a more conciliatory tone. But given Diallo, Louima, James Byrd, Hurricane Katrina and the lack of response to this day in New Orleans, Michael Richards, Vidor Texas 2006, Sean Bell, etc., etc, etc., I don't see too much learning going on. But I shouldn't be leery of that awful history repeating itself right?

Please, don't tell me this is about my seeing the glass as half-empty vs. half-full. It's about seeing the glass. Windex anyone???

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