A Modern Girl's Musings

My earliest political memory is of my parents laughing at me when I asked if we were voting for Ronald Reagan. Even I could tell poor Carter wasn't looking so good. I was about five. I think the laughter was accompanied by something along the lines of "for crying out loud!"

Nevertheless I consider myself a Reagan Baby. Those eight years of my childhood were spent realizing that there was still a lot of work to be done, despite Dr. King, in addition to the Kennedys (a lot of them were still alive then), and hopefully including me (if my Quaker education by the hippies was teaching me anything at all).

So after Reagan, after Clinton, after hiding in those Bushes, I am still hopeful, I am still working on my addition, I'm still on my way to a new way of living in this world.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thank you, Dr. Laura

If being black in America has taught me anything, it is that racism is my own fault.  I should not succumb to feeling as if I have been discriminated against; after all, whoever it is who has just called me nigger or followed me through Macy’s or swept past me in traffic after seeing the two car seats in my corolla and gotten irritated that I didn’t keep my legs shut, may have perfectly valid, other reasons for getting so upset with me other than the seemingly obvious one of being a racist.

I am quite certain that I really do deserve to be treated separate and less than equal, because really I should just be grateful to live here, in this country where my relatives have lived and worked and died for centuries.

Dr. Laura is right.  I should be very comfortable with the word nigger.  Plenty of people who seem to look just like me use it all the time.  If it is used by people in my proximity, it is most likely a term of endearment I misunderstood because I am so uptight.  I can’t take a joke.  What is with me anyway?  Don’t I watch HBO and BET?  Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger.  It should feel comfortable.  It should feel friendly.  What is with me?  What kind of black person am I, that doesn’t think it is funny?  That claims I don’t use it myself (and I don’t, truuuuust me). The definition of reverse racism is that a white person should be able to use that word.  They’ve each earned it.  They know how much racism hurts.  It hurts like not being able to use that word whenever they want.  It hurts that bad.  Dr. Laura is one smart lady, with her fingers on the pulse of every red blooded American who is just sick of these minorities whining about everything.   And those minorities aren’t full Americans, anyway.  If they were they wouldn’t be so uptight.  Real Americans get regular jokes.   This country is good.  This country elected one of us, we should all be grateful.  We should all thank Dr. Laura for pointing this out.

I know I for one am grateful for Dr. Laura.

Her psychic break has exposed what many don’t just believe, but openly blurt out more often than black people might like to acknowledge.

My husband works in a restaurant.  My husband also happens to be white.  The trick of it is that the customers my husband works with every day don’t know that his wife is not like them.  They do not know he crossed over and that his wife is like Obama.  One of the main sentiments my husband’s customers—and they are not feeling this economic depression, ya’ll.  They have accounts.  Plural plural.  With money in them.  Money money—expressed to him upon Obama’s election was “now they won’t have anyone to blame but themselves.  Racism’s over.  Obama won.”  I must say these are nice white people. They do not wear white sheets. They voted for Duval and Barack and they have black friends at work they really do like,  not just because they would feel guilty if they didn’t. But they do not believe in racism anymore.  They did in grade school.  They did in college, a little.  But not anymore; that’s juvenile.  Racism is a myth.  If you can’t make it here, it’s your own damn fault and it just isn’t fair to blame others, my kid didn’t get into Tufts because of all the black people they have to let in now.  This country is good.  This country elected one of them and they should all be grateful.

So Dr. Laura’s break with cultural reality was not surprising to me, but it did make me very sad.  Despite my body of work in the theatre, talking about racism makes me very sad.  And tired, and depressed, and angry.

Because really it comes down to empathy.  The wave of the Christian right washed over this country in 2000 and 2004 and elected a president who believed very strongly in the importance of faith, which is code for religion, which is code for Judeo-Christian religion, which is code for Christianity, which is code for evangelicalism.   This can mean many things but one of the most promising is that it means many people out there believe they believe in the Bible.  The Good Word.  Christ.  This is not bad.  This could be deliciously good, if you have ever studied the Bible. 

But I just don’t understand how so many people can say they believe, but cannot empathize with others.  Because to deny that there is racism is to deny your self the ability to feel empathy towards another person’s experience, an experience that has happened to be influenced, like many other things in this nation, by race. This seems antithetical to the Bible, to the Good Word, to Christ.

And even if you don’t believe in all that, you probably believe that anyone who professes to be a doctor, whether in earnest or just for aural kicks, should exercise some form of empathy, some form of compassion for what her patient has explained she is going through.

But if being black in America has taught me anything it is that most people are still unwilling to do this when the big R is involved.  And that must be my fault.

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