Monday, July 14, 2008

Even in Death

As a child, I was always intrigued by the afterlife. I retain some of that curiosity today.

I've imagined the gold streets of heaven during many a sermon, and I enjoy fiction based on the infinite possibilities of the after life. It's a pleasant diversion as long as one doesn't become consumed.

But, one thing I never worried too much about was whether we retained our "race" in the afterlife. I always figured it was no big deal because everybody would have much holier concerns. Apparently, people in Texas think a little differently.

The link goes to an article about Waller County, Texas. In that lovely county, officials decided it was unseemly for an anonymous white murder victim to be buried next to black folks, so they hired a white funeral parlor to take the woman from the black parlor and handle the services. When confronted with their racism, one county official said race had nothing to do with the switch. Instead, he claimed it was the fact that the black funeral parlor wanted a signed letter from the county promising to pay for the services that caused the move.

I'm serious.

I have so many ideas about this I think I'm going to have to use bullet points and subheads.

1. Hey Dummies, Ain't No Jim Crow In Heaven

I guess the good folks in Texas didn't get the message that God, like Michael Jackson, doesn't care if you're black or white. He really doesn't. Really. Wherever that poor lady was going it did not have a back of the bus.

Not only is God not concerned with our race, but I'm positive that he is not concerned with the race of folks becoming worm food next to our bodies. If these folks really believe that it's important to keep the races separate even in death, well I believe WNG has a perfect term for that: "general asshatery."

2. It's Called A Contract

The worst thing about this whole exercise is the reaction of the white county official when he was confronted with his racist behavior. His disdain for the accusation was palatable. See here old white man, (I'm assuming he's older than 40) you probably have no idea what is or is not racist. Most folks in your generation will excuse any behavior that does not involve the actual lynching of black people. And it has to be a real lynching, the nooses by themselves don't count.

However, not only did you assume that you were the only authority on what is or is not racist, you then proceeded to give the most ridiculous explanation in the world for why you decided this white lady needed to be buried by other white people. You actually claimed that it was against county policy for officials to provide the black funeral home with a letter promising them payment.

Either you're a liar or an idiot.

A document promising payment is called a contract. I'm sure in your position you've heard of contracts and probably signed many of them. Yet, you thought it made sense to tell folks that giving the black funeral home what amounted to a "contract" was against county policy.


So, either white folks can't be buried with niggers, or niggers don't get no stinking contract. Which one is it?

3. It's A Disease Y'all

I was going to save this last thought for its own post, but I just can't hold it in anymore. Some of y'all have said that you all consider racism a disease. On other blogs, I've heard racism referred to as "severe color arousal" and "psychopathic racial personality."

Whatever you call it, folks seem to have decided that this thing must be treated like any other addiction or disease, and that has been causing me to think.

The other day I was at a facility that treats individuals with substance abuse problems. On the wall there was a poster that said something like "As addicts we must understand that we are regular people with a hole in our lives and we have chosen something unhealthy to fill that hole."

That really resonated with me.

Addiction is widely considered to be a disease. Racism is a disease.

Do y'all see where I'm going?

I got to thinking, what is it that people are missing in their lives that addicts them to racism? What makes racism their drug of choice and then leads a full-blown addiction?

Is it a lack of self-worth? A fear of the unknown? Concerns about a loss of power? Is it, as a young man named Imhotep said, a lack of soul? Is the hole the same for every racist, or is it an individual thing?

See, until we can identify that missing element in someone's life, it's probably impossible to ever "cure" them of racism. We may reduce the disease's symptoms or even cause it to go into remission, but until we fill that hole, these folks will still be carriers. While I believe we all carry the racism strain in our bodies, it never progresses to a full-blown disease in most of us. The question is what leads to the change, what triggers it?

The hole is the key.


Gye Greene said...

Re: point #2. "So, either white folks can't be buried with niggers, or niggers don't get no stinking contract. Which one is it?" -- Oh, let's go with the second one.

Point #3. "The Hole Theory." -- I like it.

I think that some people need someone else lower than themselves -- someone to spit on, make fun of, feel better-off than. So, for some folks maybe it's that.

For the affluent ones? Closed minds, maybe?


Gye Greene said...


Deacon Blue said...

Sadly, some people have it so bad that there is no hole you could ever fill for them to get rid of the racism...and with those folks, one simply is left with few options but to stick his or her size 9 (or whatever appropriate size for you particuarly) up a certain small puckered hole.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

As a native Texan this doesn't surprise me one bit.

I really must agree prejudice I would say is natural we all have those, however I think I would have to agree racism is some type of psychosis. Its funny we seem to be able to understand when blacks have an issue with other blacks as some type of psychological "thing" some self-hate or racial internalization, however we don't seemed to see hate as one.

Its all sad. Very very sad.


WNG said...

First, I'd like to applaud you on your excellent use of the term, general asshattery, you nailed it.

Second, you know what, Big Man, I think it is something both individual and intensified by the group. I personally think that the root of racism is fear. As humans we all have prejudices, our brains are wired to store and group information so that we can make snap decisions. We can change those prejudices with a little work.

Racism is a different thing because the fear that feeds it is a much harder thing to kill off. Fear of losing power, fear that you should never have had it in the first place, fear that you'll have to face up to they way you think, the way your parents and grandparents thought. Fear that you are not special, that you are in fact WRONG. Fear that it will all be taken away, fear that you will be hurt, that you will not undertsand, that the things you have taken away from others will be taken away from you. I could go on and on...
Fears so deep seeded that you may not even know they are there until you are confronted by them.

As for what to do about it? Well, I think that there are levels and that for many people simple conversations over time can help. Which means that we, as Black people need to be open to having those conversations.
But for certain people the only only cure is to wait them out. They'll get to Heaven (or not) and see for themselves.

dp said...

Another great one Great one Big Man!

Talk to you later I need to run out and get a copy of the new yorker.

Big Man said...

Thanks for the comments y'all.

I'm going to take WNG's advice and be open to having more conversations.

Deacon Blue said...

More constructive than my advice, that's for sure.

WNG said...

More constructive than my first gut instinct, which was to slap somebody...

Truthiz said...

WoW! WNG darn near stole my thunder_lol.

BTW: Well said WNG!

I really had to think about this one Big Man, because I don’t feel that people are “addicted” to “Racism.”

As you know, I'm one of those folks who believes that “Racism’ is a “disease” that corrupts the Heart, Mind and Soul.

And while I've never believed_ that “All” white people in America are "Racist"_I do believe that white people are the largest “carrier” group of the disease.

Moreover, I believe that MOST (if not ALL) “white-Racist” are probably BORN with a “Genetic” predisposition to developing the disease_which is to say, it’s in their “genes" and in their blood.

Below is a list of several “key” factors I came up with showing, what I believe to be, primary “triggers” to unleashing the disease:

1. The FAMILY they’re born into (beginning at conception), their home environment, their “upbringing”, if you will.

2. The “white-Supremacist” Wolrd-view and “privileged” status they enjoy, FROM conception TO THE GRAVE, at ALL socio-economic levels, by virtue of nothing more than their “Race”.

3. IGNORANCE and LOW Self-esteem, particularly among the poor and blue-color working families.

4. Irrational FEAR of other racial and ethnic groups.


6. The community _and to an even greater extent_society’s reinforcing the “white is Superior” worldview, everywhere you look and everywhere you go.

7. ..and what else? Oh, IGNORANCE!

H*ll even “poor white trash” consider themselves to be “better than ANY “Blacks. Your name can be “Oprah” or “Obama” or even “Mandela”. It makes NO difference to those poor Ignorant souls. They’re “white” therefore, they are “better” than you or I.

The story you highlighted hardly surprise me_sad but true_because as I’ve already stated, I believe it's in the “genes.”

WNG said...

This just reminds me of the Chris Rock joke (I think it was in Bigger and Blacker)about how the one legged white janitor wouldn't want to trade places with him (and I'm RICH), he was going to "ride this White thing out, see where it takes me".

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

@WNG- Yep Chris has a great way of putting that into perspective. In the last show I saw him in, he talked about how his neighbor is a plain old dentist. He was like do you know what a black dentist would have to do to live in my neighborhood, INVENT TEETH.

Funny but sadly true....


the uppity negro said...

Well, I have a full memory of my mother's hometown in Mississippi being divided by a fence, one for the coloreds and the white side. I mean, even as a kid in the 90's when we'd drive down there and go visit the gravesites, my parents just simply said it was the "white side" without even a second thought. Not because it was right, but that they were quite aware of just how segregated some things still were.

Round about 2000 or later the fence came down, but this was already a few decades after the city of Louisville, MS had decided to pave over the old colored cemetery with present day Camille Street by the Sunflower grocery store--my mothers paternal grandmother is buried under that street.

Iono, this one just outright pisses me off, there really is no wiggle room in this one. There's no justification for pulling an unclaimed body from one funeral home to bury them with the other one. I mean, it's small town politics--hell, black folk amongst ourselves fallout over which funeral home to bury our loved ones with. My mother drew the ire of going with Beck and Sons to bury her mother, and not the usual Williams and Herring!

I was more pissed with the comments posted after the story which somehow felt that the black people were racists calling the sheriff of Waller County racist---no logic. That's just general foolishness that irritates the crap out of me. There's no intellectualizing wanton stupidity.

Aside from the black funeral home demanding a contract, I'm sure over the years they've probably had some payment issues when dealing with indigent cases, and the mortician has to eat like the rest of us. It's a small town, these people aren't raking in big dough (from deaths much more common in the city) and the guy probably just wanted to get paid--and your right Big Man, what's wrong with a contract?

This was just a mess.


the uppity negro said...

It just dawned on me....

Believe it or not, cemeteries and definitely funeral homes is not an area you hear much gripe about as far as racism or prejudicial treatment.

I remember going to Opelousas and Louisville respectively to see my grandparents graves, and the grounds looked just as well kept as the white side.

So, is it okay for this facet of existence to be separate but equal?

I'm not even gonna cover up my prejudiced in this one--DON'T TAKE ME TO NO WHITE FUNERAL HOME! I'm usually pretty laxed on things done after I'm dead, who cares, I'm dead, the service can be wack, you aint gotta sing none of the songs I asked, you don't have to have no crazy hoop, folks aint gotta shout---but don't take me to no white funeral home.

Is it prejudiced for me to assume that white morticians would simply do a better "job" on white bodies and vice versa with black morticians? So, why would I want to take my loved one to a white funeral home and have 'em come out looking like all Pillsbury Doughboy and what not--face the color of flour!

I've only been to one white person's funeral, kid in our class committed suicide my senior year, no one really liked him, he was a lil off, but I had the one class with him and he was always good for debates in English class, and I remember he looked like a baby doll--

I don't wanna look like a baby doll.

Take me to a black funeral home please.

But in this case, was this really racism or was it just prejudiced? Honestly, how many white bodies does that black funeral home see on average in a month. I'd bet that that number over the years is between 0 and 1. The same probably holds true for the white funeral home. However, in this case, I think the Sheriff just forgot this was 2008 and stuff like this has a tendency to blow up bigger than what all parties probably expected. The sheriff shoulda just let this one slide, and just remember to tell the JOtP next time what the proper protocol is.

I'm not usually one to maintain status quo, but, I think in this case, and in the case only, it wouldn't have been the end of the world if the sheriff had just kept his mouth shut.

Honestly, are all of those black folk (at least I'd assume most of them would be black) down there in Waller County hollering about this--are they all offering up their bodies to be buried by the white funeral home? If not, shut the hell up and saddown!


Imhotep said...

"As addicts we must understand that we are regular people with a hole in our lives and we have chosen something unhealthy to fill that hole."

Big Man, I don't believe that white folks are at the stage where they sense a hole in their life as it relates to people of color.

Fact is they believe their life is complete in that area, and that everything they have is through hard work and virtue. And that Black people come to their own status because of our lack of initative and overall questionable moral character.

Some white folk don't believe that racism even exist, let alone it being a disease.

For them to conclude such, it must be like Imhotep said, that they are without a soul. If you cannot feel the pain of the innocent, then you have no soul!

Racism from the cradle to the grave, it's as american as apple pie!

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Old saying: A lot of white folks gonna be upset when they meet God and she's a black woman.

Great post. Especially liked #2.

I hate some of the long, silly-assed words to re-name racism. Folks should watch George Carlin's skit on Soft Language. It's worth a look and funny, too.

Raving Black Lunatic