Sunday, September 30, 2007
Racism: A "Black Thing" We THINK Whites Won't Understand or a "Black Thing" Whites think we WOULDN'T Understand They Understand?
Had an interesting discussion with my husband of 27 years yesterday about Jena. He said when I told him I was going on the 20th, he wanted to go, particularly because he has two grown sons who look more like me than him and have, to a lesser degree, experienced the same injustices felt by Mychal Bell and the Jena 6 . But he felt because he was white (actually Italian-American, very Caucasian-looking, pale skin and a brunette/red-head mix), his going would somehow "offend" Black people, censoring their thoughts, language and feelings in some way because of his mere presence. To his point, it's happened plenty over 27 years. He didn't want to go and be seen as "another white guy showing up to save Black people - an "interloper" of sorts. I have to own my part in that reasoning because I say it to him all the time - "I'm tired of Black people always seeming to sit back and wait for white people to come and save us, for white people to point out the racism in events, for white people to have that epiphany, "Hey! This shit is just racist!" We need to learn to save ourselves! We need to not be afraid to STAND UP OURSELVES FOR OURSELVES and say "Hey! I'm not afraid of upsetting white folks, this is racist, wrong because it's racist and we're not going to take it anymore." Okay, so I am, always have been and until things REALLY change, always will be the "Angry Black Woman" in this household. I told him I thought it would have been awesome (I hate that word - so overused, but it fits) had he made the trek with me. Though I knew he felt what happened in Jena was racist, it would have been wonderful for him to go and represent that belief with me. It would then - at least for us - not only have been about that "right-or-wrong family" Michael Baisden kept insisting it was solely about, but a "family" standing up for Blacks anywhere being marginalized AGAIN, because of their RACE. He didn't want to "intrude" is what he said. I asked incredulously, "And how exactly is this "black-white" thing EVER going to be resolved if white people keep thinking, "It's a Black thing, they won't THINK I understand it's about racism" and Black people keep saying, "It's a Black thing, you WOULDN'T understand it's about racism?" After a rather protracted conversation, yet again, about race (you see it continues after all these years), we both agreed it is of the utmost importance to our marriage, our family, our sons, our world, that neither of us continue to worry about what people THINK it's about - it is what it is. And Jena - was about RACISM and the unequal justice that usually follows. Washington here WE come!