Race card… whose really playing it?

Can I just saying I am starting to get really bored by the current election season, its like damn lets just get to November and vote already. Seriously, it seems like this shit has just being going on and on, so much that honestly I have lost a bit of my enthusiasm especially once my man Obama got the nomination and started acting a little strange. That said, I sure as hell ain’t voting for crazy ass McGrampy so unless some real nasty shit comes out about my man Obama, he’s got my vote.

That said, I woke up this morning as I do most mornings listening to NPR and heard the latest in this long crazy trip known as an election season, seems McGramps said Obama played the race card from the bottom of the deck… dayum, he played it from the bottom? For real? Thankfully being NPR, they then played a snippet of what Obama said and well in quick paraphrasing he essentially said that there are some who would tell you I am scary because I don’t look like the other cats who have ran for president, my name is funny, yada, yada.. Um, tell me something I don’t know… shit, how many emails have gone out this year basically saying because the man’s name is Barack Hussein Obama he is a Muslim and ya know them Muslims are scary. Come on, didn’t Hillary herself use coded racial language, like hard working folks aka white folks.

I must admit that after I heard the story, I laughed, shit was funny until I stopped to think about something that I went through last year where I was accused of playing the race card. Long story short, I was teaching at a school where I was only 1 of 2 teachers with an advanced degree, I was the only person of color and after being promised a ft gig with benefits after being worked like a Hebrew slave, I was let go, given some bullshit ass reason. Well turned out a sista was the lowest paid instructor at that joint despite having more education than only one other person, well as you can imagine, my Chicago side came out when I was being let go and I called bullshit. Anyway I was told I was playing the race card, former boss lady got all red in the face and huffy when I said basically I had been screwed and was pissed, of course by throwing in the ole race card, she threw me off my game for a minute. The end is not really relevant since I have been blessed since leaving that shit-hole ass job.

My point though is that incident coupled with many others have revealed to me that it seems when white folks get uncomfortable with Black folks especially us loud mouth ones who won’t back the fuck down, we are accused of using the ole race card. However it seems to me if anything its them using the race card, seems when you are white, you can tell a person of color especially a Black person they are using the race card and it will prevent said white person from taking a look at themselves and taking personal responsibility about a situation.

Call me crazy, but by the rules many whites seem to live under that is definitely playing the race card and playing it from the bottom. No, McCain is feeling bitter and clinging to outdated ideas, so its better to attack Obama on bullshit than to create his own real platform.

McGrampy, shame on you for playing the race card, by the way is that the Amex Black card you have?

Blackness..who defines it?

In my daily cruising of blogs, I was struck by a blog I read about Soledad O’Brien and the issue of Blackness. Soledad is hosting a two part program on CNN that I have not yet seen on being Black in America and guess some folks questioned whether Soledad was really Black enough to be a part of such a discussion. For starters I will admit that I didn’t even know she was Black, over the years I thought she looked like she might be Black but with that name honestly, I never gave it a second thought.

However in the larger picture, reading about her Blackness or lack thereof brought me back to my own childhood and how often I endured cutting remarks from family members on my supposed lack of Blackness. As I have talked about before, I attended predominantly white schools even when we lived in Black areas, I was the kid in high school who had to get up at 5:30 am to trek across Chicago to get to school by 8 am. In my early years, we did though live in a predominantly white area.

For starters, as a kid, I was the kid who couldn’t jump rope, not just any rope, double-dutch, that definitely earned me lots of laughs as a kid.. later on I was put down because I talked white, I read books, and the worse offense in the eyes of relatives, I listened to white music. Back in fourth grade, I bought my first albums, Duran Duran and The Police and yes these were indeed albums. LOL

Later on growing up I grew to embrace all kinds of music, yet despite my love of music, I have been told I cannot dance. How many family gatherings did I attempt to let loose only to hear the family “Look at S, she dance like a white girl”.. laughs all around.

It wasn’t until in the past 10 years I realized I wasn’t the only Black kid who grew up being cracked on because of my supposed lack of Blackness as a kid, yet even when we become adults if you were a member of the non-black enough crew growing up, you still get it from adults. Its never ending, but the reality is what the hell is Blackness?

Honestly I beleive much of what we in America call Blackness makes no sense, to say that a group that  has millions and millions of members must all do the same thing is group-think on a crazy level. What I consider the Black experience in America is a rich diverse array of experience. It shapes us individually and creates Black folks as diverse as John McWhorter, Jesse Jackson, and many others. Even factoring for socio-economics, we are as diverse as white folks. No one ever expects white folks to be all the same.

Yet for many of us Black folks if we see someone engaging in behavior that we associate with White America we are quick to slap a label on that individual and heaven forbid we might even call said not real Black person an Oreo. Yep, been there, done that too. Thankfully I have reached the age where it no longer irritates me that family members think I am an Oreo, I suspect my move to Maine solidified in their minds that I am a true Oreo.. oddly enough these same folks like many who are quick to judge who is really Black, no nothing about Black history.

Blackness as I define it is a state of mind, its the ability for me to take pride in my roots, its when I reached that place where I can proudly share about my humble family roots, the grandfather who was a sharecropper. Its that place where as a Black woman I can look upon my own natural attributes and be at peace with how I was created, I see joy in my nappy hair, my full lips and hips and cocoa complexion. Its the place where I want to embrace all members of the diaspora, where I understand that the Dominican brothas and sistas are the same as me.. we all hail from the same place, we just ended up at different places.

No, Blackness can not simply be reduced to a few points, Blackness is not necessarily growing up in the hood, Blackness allows for the richness that gives us the Soledad’s who choose to embrace her heritage because she understands that Blackness is more than skin color. I like to say its in our blood, we feel its strength, its the strength that allowed a people who had been taken away from their homes to create in this new and strange land that was forced upon us. I sometimes think that if the ancestors could see this silliness that many of us engage in that they would cry out in shame at what we have become.

Instead of deciding who is Black, let us make sure we understand who we are first and foremost.

White privilege.. its everywhere I am not

I guess the reason I won’t ever be a blogger who writes about current events is because I have a tendency to come late to the party, but that’s life when you have an almost 3 year old and only 24 hours in a day.

Last post, I wrote about Jesse Jackson and the n-word but at that writing I hadn’t yet heard the story about ole Elizabeth from The View and the rather um, emotional discussion that occurred between the ladies of The View about the n-word. Plenty of folks have already wrote some fabulous stuff specifically about that conversation, however at another blog the issue of white privilege came up and for some reason this weekend that stuck in my mind.

Seems white folks don’t always get why they can’t use the n-word, some even say it feels unfair… after all if its such a hateful word, why the hell should Black folks use it? Seems maybe we should all bury it. On the surface that feels like a really warm and fuzzy argument and maybe if it were not for this little pesky thing called white privilege, I might almost agree but I don’t.

Before I get into my rant, let me say upfront, I don’t write an academic blog, I am a former quasi-academic, long story short after I got the masters degree a few years ago, I decided I had had enough of school.  So I say this to say that when I blog, I just write, I don’t for the most part add sources but if you are reading this feel free to google anything I say and find the references yourself.

Now that we have that out of the way, lets get the rant on… Many years ago Peggy McIntosh wrote a piece that is often used to discuss white privilege, it basically highlights the many invisible perks that white folks get just by nature of being white. Simple things like knowing for instance you can pretty much do what you want to do without fear… or at the very least live in a state and not have to travel 2 states over to get your hair done.

With that paraphrasing of Peggy’s piece, I am reminded that maybe on some level the reason whites don’t get why they can’t use the n-word is not so much rooted in the fact that they care about Black folks (not saying that they don’t) but more rooted in the fact that its one thing that Black society has basically said no about, you can’t use that word and in general to be white in America does not mean hearing no all that often compared to if you are a person of color in America. After all for the average white person throwing out a casual n-bomb at the very least will earn you a mild scolding if your n-bomb falls upon Black ears to possibly getting your ass kicked. Depends on the Black person hearing it and honestly the kind of day they are having.

See, its funny when the spousal unit and I were talking about The View and my reaction to Elizabeth (honey, stop crying… get over yourself, use those tears to help folks if you really want to do something productive). It was my white half that brought up white privilege and how in his 40 years of life, 13 which have been spent with yours truly, that its been only in these last 13 years that he realized how many things he took for granted as a white man.

Imagine walking around in a large city when the urge to take a sudden and powerful bowel movement hits (I know this is sounding crazy but stick with me), well the spousal unit just looks for a nice hotel and wanders in and uses their facilities. The first time he shared this with many years ago, I looked at him like he was crazy, see when I used to live in Chicago and found myself in a similar predicament it never dawned on me to go to a hotel. Perhaps, because I have had experiences when traveling and staying at top notch hotels where just my appearance required showing a key card and proof I really belonged at the hotel and wasn’t loitering. Its a small thing but it was one of the first times I stopped to ponder how we, Black folks and White folks at times can inhabit different worlds.

In more recent days, a white girlfriend and I were discussing local beaches we take our kids, and my pal shared that she regularly uses one particular beach that is private… I knew the beach in question but was fascinated that she regularly just used it with no concerns, I even asked her aren’t you concerned that the organization that owns it might ask you to leave? She told me no; see white privilege allows you to go and do seemingly simple things like shit or use a beach with no concerns that someone might question you, hound you, or disturb you in any way. Damn, it must be nice…

However back to my original point, I see some whites irritation in not being allowed to use the n-word rooted in the fact that to be white in America unless you are at the lowest rings of the socio-economic ladder is to not have to hear the word no, it means always having a choice.. and yet Black folks have said no, you cannot have this word. That said, I am not saying we as Black folks need to hang onto this word as a commenter on my last entry stated maybe its time we look for some new language in general and I agree.

That said white privilege is everywhere, maybe instead of getting pissed about what you can’t say, it would be better to look at what you can do and strive for ways to achieve parity so that everyone can shit when needed.