You seem to have mistaken me for a supernatural being.

You appear to be agitated by this subject and that is not unusual; it is no secret that discussions on race in America are generally fraught with anxiety and angst. This is because it is a personal subject for everybody as well as permeating the culture on every level; there is no simple conversation to be had on race. We all have had our own experiences that shape our views and we have a common history of shameful injustices whose ghosts still squirm in their unsettled graves while the murdering thieves gloated over the wealth they had plundered and prospered; this is not melodramatic hyperbole but poetic understatement. I am a student of history; I don’t believe in collective guilt or punishment. I do not think that white people today are responsible for anything that happened in the past. They are, however, fully culpable for what they do today.

The subject of guilt is relevant here and we will discuss yours because you are acting like a person who is feeling guilty. For one thing, you gave me 22 hours to respond to you before you decided that you would never ever come back to me again; I know you’ve read recent my recent posts and are fully aware of how busy I am with work at the Clown Factory. I was there yesterday from 6am to midnight and the days before were just as long. I’ve been directing an enormously ambitious project and it culminated this week (it went better than I could have imagined, BTW. Thanks for asking). I am not instantly made aware of your thoughts when you post a comment; I am not a supernatural being and therefore must read them on my computer. But I think you know this and were just feeling upset and angry, and I think you’ll come back and read this, and I hope you will appreciate that I am really listening  to you and that I care about what you think, Sarah. I don’t care about what you drive or what your job is or your bank account or if you are blonde and green eyed; it doesn’t matter to me what grades you got or what your boss wrote on your performance review; I don’t care about any of the stuff of ego that we think is ourselves. I care about the you behind your eyes between your ears that you are always with, the you behind the you that is when you are quiet and still, that worries and wonders and prays in the night; I don’t care if your name isn’t really Sarah. I want to talk to your soul.

To begin with, I will address your comments directly; I absolutely agree that the stereotyping of Christians is as wrong as making assumptions about anyone else based on their religion. I think Poietes and Huck did a nice job of making themselves clear on this; she was not saying that she felt the stereotype was true, but rather that it was the sort of rank ignorance displayed by ‘wegoneape’ which propagates those stereotypes. I think she’s right in the same way that I think Bill Cosby is right when he talks about why it is important to use proper English; if one doesn’t wish to be perceived as ignorant then don’t display ignorance. That being said, I have to tell you I’ve never been called ‘honky’ or ‘cracker’ in my life nor have I ever heard anyone being called those names as a slur without laughing. I have no idea what video you are referring to. Jesse Jackson made the ‘hymie town’ remark in 1984 and has been apologizing for it for 26 years. Juan Williams said Muslims in their traditional clothes made him nervous and FOX gave him a multimillion dollar contract. Dr Laura said ‘nigger’ and got a bigger contract and props from Sarah Palin. I think Brother Jesse can be let off the hook at this point.

The use of the word ‘nigger’ is as complicated as anything else when we are talking about race. There is a valid point of view that for blacks to use it is to take away the power the word had to oppress. To wear the slur of the slaver as a badge of honor is a way of reclaiming dignity. I am in agreement with the folks who believe the word is best forgotten. Richard Pryor has a very moving story about how he decided to never use the word again. There is plenty of debate and controversy about the word ‘nigger’ among black people; this does not make it okay for white people to use it. I don’t understand why white people are so eager and itching to say it in the first place. It is absolutely unnecessary in any case. Corrine Waters mutilates the English language. So does Sarah Palin. So does George Bush. So do any number of people on any given day. I fail to see your point.

There’s an old family legend that my great-grandfather was a sheriff in Texas and he had to go to Mexico to extradite twenty one prisoners. On the way back an enormous dust storm blew up and he was faced with a problem; if he stayed with the prisoners and tried to hunker down they could use the cover of the storm to overpower him, but if he abandoned them in their chains in the desert that would be inhuman and if he tried to release them from their chains they would certainly overpower him before he could get away. So he shot them all. Do I feel guilty about this? I don’t even know if this if the story is true but I feel no more guilty about this than I do for the extinction of the dinosaurs. They are the past; I can learn from them but I don’t have to relive their lives, justify their actions, or account for their souls. I do have to live my life, justify my actions and account for my soul, and you have to for yours.

Now, I have addressed your points. Now, you address mine; who was advocating ‘political correctness’? I was mocking a racist who was comparing African-Americans to gorillas. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

3 Responses to “You seem to have mistaken me for a supernatural being.”

  1. just wanted you to know i was still paying attention! I can only add a heart felt “Amen” and to point out that (if my ever failing, sleep deprived memory can be trusted, that Rev. Jackson’s “hymie-town” comment was also off the record and was not a part of any organized comments. Didn’t he mumble it under his breath as he was getting into or out of a car or something like that?) Your point about FOX paying millions to those who spew racial hatred is well made.

    • I’ve fallen prey to mumbling racially charged statements under my breath when someone out of audible range has upset me. I always feel guilty then try to remind myself that it could just as easily have (and statistically more likely) been a white person.

  2. Another amen from the chorus.

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