Racial Progress or Not

I am back from my weekend hiatus, so nice to be back online. Anyway while relaxing with the family this weekend, we went on a drive in the country to visit a local farm. During that drive, we saw a house that had a rather large lawn jockey on the yard, of course the lawn jockey happened to be Black. Now as a Black woman, seeing that damn thing pissed me off, but what followed has left me pondering are we making progress or not as a society when it comes to race.

While I was ranting and raving over how I should go and smash the what to me was offensive lawn jockey, my 16 year old son who is biracial asked me why? Now this is a kid who has been fed a healthy dose of Black culture since day 1 (he also reads Mama’s blog), but as he explained to me he was not offended by the site of the lawn jockey because to him he viewed it much like how some Jewish folks view the Holocaust and strongly believe that they must never forget what happened. He feels that we as Black people must never forget the past and imagery like that offensive lawn jockey should keep us focused. I will admit for a moment Mama was like WTF? On the other hand many baby boy has a point, perhaps if some of these so-called ballers and rappers came upon these offensive images, they would be less likely to be creating their own offensive images. Since whenever elder boy is home, I inevitably end up watching some MTV or VH-1 and am absolutely dumbfounded over how we (we as in Black folks) now have no problem creating imagery on our own that makes us look like buffoons. Of course the reality is that coonery and buffoonery sells and the biggest buyers of this are not people of color… no its white folks. What the hell does that say about us as a society?

On another note speaking to racial progress, I woke up this morning as I always do listening to NPR and was listening to the Monday report on the election season and heard a rather interesting tidbit. Seems that there is still questions on whether or not Barack Obama can close the deal with working class whites and actually get them to vote for him. The report I heard this morning, mentioned that in states like Michigan and Ohio, two places I would not want to live since economically they are the pits, it seems the working class folks are not buying what Obama is selling. Now back when Hillary was still in the picture, this same issue was mentioned, why couldn’t Obama close the deal?

Come on now, you don’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to figure this out… race. Now I know some will say, why you gotta make this about race? Look who in their right mind votes against their own economic self interest? In America its lower income white folks who believe that people of color and them damn immigrants are stealing their jobs and whatnot, so rather than vote for change that might bring a few jobs back to them, they will vote for anyone else.

I am not saying Obama is perfect, personally since clinching the nomination he has pissed me off, that said, voting for McCain seems like economic suicide since in essence we will be getting a third Bush term as far as policies. Yet racism is deeply ingrained is the fabric of this nation, so economic well-being be damned, anything is better than a Negro in charge.

Guess the question for me is are we really making racial progress? Personally I am on the fence about this…

7 thoughts on “Racial Progress or Not

  1. It’s a hard question to answer because any reply could change by the minute. Yesterday, when I first read your blog, I felt, yes, racial progress has been made — just the existence of my own family is testament to the progress. It’s only a personal account, but my own (white) MIL has made great strides in how she is towards me and my children, and even though she’s still got a long way to go, I give her credit for the work that she has done in acknowledging racism and her role in it.

    Then I read stories like this… http://www.racialicious.com/2008/07/28/denied-kindergarten-for-being-native/
    …and I just shake my head in disbelief and sadness. One step forward, two steps back.

  2. Great post, but my thought is progress is not so much in the racist actions. There will always be racist, sexist, classicist. It is human nature and in some humans nature to need to be better than someone, whether its based on money, sex, or race. In this country race is still a privileged place just like sex and money.

    What I look at is how America responds. Sure there are places where race is still a determining factor in deciding a person’s intelligence, leadership ability, and trustworthiness. The thing that has changed is how those who are “oppressed” handle the oppression and how many of the non-oppressed see the oppression.

    In this day there are far many whites who don’t agree with racism and say something about it being wrong from there place of privilege. There use to be a time when whites didn’t want to get involved. Sure there are places where Obama has to convince people he will be a great president despite his racial heritage, but think of the many places where he doesn’t. That my friend is the progress.

    I have to say that your nephew is right about the reminder. I think that is something we need. It keeps you from getting too comfortable living in a country that was built on the sweat of your ancestors backs.

    If you get caught up in where progress isn’t happening you miss where it is. If you get caught up in where the progress is happening you forget you are in the struggle. It is a delicate line. One should not strive to look at if the glass is half-empty or half- full, but that the glass contains a substance.

    I don’t even want to start about the buffoonery and coonery, because some of it is that. And some of it is how we are living. Some of us still think our freedom is in material trappings or violence or objectification. I only think it is coonery when the behavior is not what you believe. You know when you KNOW better but you would rather make money.

    Oh well just my two cents! Spend or save it.

    -OG

  3. Hello

    I’m new to your blog and I LOVE it! Although I can’t co-identify with the mothering posts (but with 4 younger siblings I can kind of relate) I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this blog. A black girl in Maine! I say this because I am moving to New Hampshire for graduate school next month and I have been trying to find out what it is really like for black people up there (I’m originally from Georgia/Maryland).

    So thank you for this glimpse in!

  4. There’s so much to heal within our country. So far the only measurable progress we’ve really made has been with individual economic success. The Oprah’s, Bill, Jordan, Jay-Z, and Diddy’s of the world. As a whole it is clear that we’ve gone bat shit crazy. I honestly don’t know what the solution is. I’m not a mother so the only thing I have power over is healing myself and conditioning myself to grown spiritually, financially, and mentally.

    What else can you really do?

  5. When I was a little kid (late 60s) a neighbor of ours got one of those black lawn jockeys, painted its skin white, and put it out on his lawn. This was in a part of Cleveland that was slowly “changing.” 🙂

    Even after learning about the history of black lawn jockeys I find it interesting that they’re still around AND that people buy them. I saw one here in Iowa City not too long ago but somebody must have said something because the next week it was gone.

    How far have we gotten? Personally I don’t think we’ve gotten very far at all because a lot of what used to be said openly is now said under the covers and (just being honest) a lot of black folks really believe the BS others think about them. Listening to some black folks I find myself wanting to get a T-shirt that says, “Not everyone accepts white supremacy as a matter of fact.” White supremacy can’t exist without POC inferiority and if you accept one, you have to accept the other.

  6. Just an FYI:

    By the time of the Civil War, these ‘Jocko’ statues could be found on plantations throughout the South; like the North Star that pointed fleeing slaves to their freedom, the Jocko statues pointed to the safe houses of the Underground Railroad.

    Just because the statue is a black person does not make it racist!

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