Thursday, November 1, 2007
Kyra Phillips Validates Lynching?
Kyra Phillips is a pretty smart cookie. She's found her niche and she knows it. I remember being in Alexandria, LA listening to her interview Michael Baisden. She was talking about CNN being "all over this story" and I couldn't help but laugh out loud as I drove back to my hotel. Neither she nor CNN were "all over" anything. But once the story could not be ignored, then she and CNN jumped on the bandwagon. And she's at it again. "Without Sanctuary," the exhibit she featured in her story tonight first toured in New York back in 2000. I remember reading about it opening to much consternation from both the white and Black communities. The late Warren Spears, a former dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, produced a theater-ballet based on it in 2003. Tavis Smiley, someone I consider a Black leader (if we must have one), not a leading Black, featured it back in 2004 when he had his own show at NPR. And contrary to Ms. Phillips representation that the collection is rarely shown, it has been exhibited all across this country. Colleges here and abroad use it and/or the accompanying book to clear up the revisionist history that's been taught for so long. It had such an enduring impact on me that I've had it posted at the top of my blog since I created it. It's important we not forget the history which informs how we all still live our lives. I guess what gets under my skin is the sense of co-opting I always feel when some whites in general and the white media in particular finally decide to tell our stories. But it's not just the telling of our stories it's the co-opting of our culture (a culture they had long belittled or just not cared anything about) for material gain or to advance certain agendas that gets me. I got the same feeling when Hillary Clinton's "It Takes A Village" was published. That's probably why I cringe every time a white woman calls me "girlfriend." Black people have been telling our stories and pointing out racism, discrimination and bigotry ever since I've known myself. With the exception of the days of the Civil Rights Movement, we've pretty much always been accused of "whining" or not being satisfied or being paranoid. Nooses as pranks please! Our concerns are rarely taken seriously unless and until they are validated by somebody white. See, it's that type of institutional, internalized racism that nobody wants to address. That great, big old pink elephant of white privilege that looms in the corner of every room in this country. I'm just not convinced that Ms. Phillips is that concerned about racism in America other than a means to an advantageous personal end. Before Jena, all I knew about her was her infamous, still-had-her-microphone-on, bathroom conversation about her control freak sister-in-law during CNN's live coverage of the presidents comments on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in 2006. But who knows, there maybe an "Edwina R. Murrow" lurking in there somewhere! We'll see.