Friday, August 19, 2011

It Is What It Is

One of the first things that happens when the words "racist" or "racism" are introduced into a conversation involving white folks is an attempt to mind read.

By that, I mean that if I bring up racism or racists, it's pretty much guaranteed that some white person will speak to me about the dangers of trying to judge another man's heart. It doesn't matter what was just said or done, there is always some white person who bristles instantly at the idea that the situation is about racism. Take, Sen. Tom Coburn's recent comments for example.

Granted, the paraphrase job by the reporter from the Tulsa World wasn't the greatest. The story clearly lacked some context that would have provided more insight into where Coburn's comments came from and his overall mindset. Honestly, after I read the transcript, I no longer suspected that Coburn is a closeted member of the White Citizen's Council.

But I still thought he was a racist.

That would probably surprise the reporter from the Washington Post who wrote the column about Coburn's actual comments. (Actually, maybe it wouldn't since white folks always expect black people to call somebody racist and therefore rarely believe us despite the evidence.) The reporter from the Washington Post bent over backwards to try to provide a non-racist explanation for Coburn's comments, but there isn't one. It doesn't matter if he likes Obama as a person, or thinks that the president is just misguided. His entire worldview is built on the premise that African Americans have benefited from a "culture of dependency".

That's some racist crap.

I'm not sure how white people got confused, but clearly it happened. It seems that they took a wrong turn during Jim Crow, and forgot that the government programs that benefit the poor were first created for white people by white people, and only extended to black people after we paid taxes with no benefit for a long time. Moreover, they seem to have forgotten that the sort of "dependency" programs that President Obama would have benefited from, say Affirmative Action, were created because white people couldn't seem to follow the rules of the very meritocracy they love to tout now. We don't have Affirmative Action because black people couldn't survive without help, we have it because white people refused to even give black people a fair freaking shot.

Moreover, as one of my white colleagues pointed out, if ever there was a person who has proven that Affirmative Action doesn't necessarily lead to unqualified people getting jobs, it's this president. As much as George Bush was an indictment of the legacy system and generational wealth, Obama is the living and breathing proof that if black folks are given a legit shot, we can easily excel. To claim that Obama was raised on the teat of dependency despite all the evidence to the contrary is the act of a racist.




Deacon Blue said...

They say a black person has to work three times as hard as a white person to get recognition and a fair shake but...let's face it: Even that isn't really enough.

Or, even if it's enough to take THAT person seriously, it won't be translated to greater respect for other people of the same hue.

Only white people deserve opportunities, and only white people deserve help when they're down. That's pretty much the lesson in America.

lifelearner said...


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