Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Right vs. Wrong

Apparently the presence of racism in America is news to some people.

The Opinion Page and this news story in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune seem to underscore this theory.

No shit Sherlock.

It seems that America’s dirty little secret is showing with the continued emergence of Senator Obama’s Presidential campaign.

Meghan Daum’s brilliantly insightful opinion piece cast the privilege of whiteness in a new light.

Apparently being White isn’t what it used to be. And the “wrong” type of White people aren’t too happy about this fact.

Yet among this renewed dialogue on race in our country a few things struck me as I watch this political and social drama unfold.

We all know Chicago isn’t exactly the Mecca of racial tolerance---there’s a reason it’s called the Mississippi of the north.

Frankly, the de facto segregation in this city is difficult to miss.

Nowhere is this segregation in plain view than where people choose to make their home.

And while I’m not trying to piss in the wind about this fact, I find it amusing that it’s the subtle behaviors, utterances and actions that let me know that this country has a long way to go before we reach a true racial understanding.

A prime example is when you live on the south side and choose to have a party; it’s interesting how some people will never ever accept your invitation.

And when I say some people I mean White people.

One of my neighbors and I were discussing this phenomenon while on our way to the Woodlawn Farmer’s Market last Saturday.

Its one thing to think that the whole of the south side is a cesspool but it’s quite another to think that someone you share a friendship or a workspace with thinks that you live in a cesspool.

So in the past, when some people would come to my home and remark about “livability” of my little part of Woodlawn I would reply to them “Where did you think I would live?”

“Livability” equals nice. Or at the very least not as ghetto as one would think.

My neighbor and I both decided that if you don’t want our free food and liquor, screw you.

Not that I’m in a financial position to have a party.

But make no mistake, when I get a job and knock down my credit card debt, I’m gonna have a blowout.

I also noticed an editorial cartoon in the April 3rd-9th edition of The Onion.

In the page 11 cartoon you see two panels----one that’s captioned “America When We Don’t Talk About Race” that shows a rural looking White family (I can’t only assume that from the overalls on the father), a beer mug holding Irishman, a Black man with the word “funky” spinning a basketball on his finger, a guitar playing Hispanic man and a Asian woman standing outside of a laundry.

I don’t have to point out the basic offensiveness of that panel do I?

Truthfully I don’t have a problem with that---I can’t go tilting at every windmill.

But the chafe comes in the next panel titled “America When We Do (Talk About Race)”

Chaos has erupted.

The rural father is in a Klan hood, the Hispanic man and Asian woman are fighting and the Irishman has a broken bottle in his hand.

Yet the image that strikes me as offensive is the one where the Black man has the rural mother by the throat---knife in hand ready for the attack.

Jesus take the wheel.

I’ve been doing this Black thing for a few years and like I’ve previously stated in order to preserve my sanity I can’t go tilting at every windmill.

The trick to being Black in America is brush the slights and insults off your shoulders. If you internalize too much you’ll be on a subway train shooting White people and blaming it on “Black rage.”

You also need a way to release the bullshit that’s heaped upon you seemingly everyday so you don’t blow.

I’m lucky---I have a blog that’s mine and mine alone so I can call it like I see it.

But my point, kind reader is that I always knew that White people took a dim view of us.

And when I say dim view I mean that in a “we’ll tolerate your existence until you step out of your place” type of way.

But at least I know where I stand with the “wrong” type of White people.

I won’t hear how they support diversity yet can’t seem to take a social trip south of Madison Street.

I won’t hear about how they don’t see color or think that racist attitudes are disgusting yet would illustrate a cartoon showing what seems to be the worst of White America’s fears.

Shockingly, to the “right” people race still matters.

1 comment:

chicago pop said...

Well, we run into the phobia of traveling to the south side, too. From potential babysitters, contractors, "we don't service that area (Hyde Park) etc. etc. By no means everyone has that attitude, and we can get most stuff we need, but we do get the phobia once in a while.

I just hope that, if Obama is elected, people might realize Hey! The president of the United States lives on the South Side! Oh my god! But, like, is it safe down there???!!??