Saturday, October 02, 2010

Post-racial? No...

I would like to coin the phrase right now.... get ready... IN-YOUR-FACIAL...
But I should explain. Firstly, this article from the Chicago Trib isn't particularly thoughtful and doesn't answer any questions. It could have been written by a half-bright 8th grader.


It is, however, a question, that I believe should keep getting lobbed into the forum like a hand grenade until people talk about it, argue about it, fist fight about it, and make it clear to everybody, and themselves especially, exactly where they stand on the issue and why. I vote for total transparency with no more veiled insinuation, no hints, and no room for misunderstanding. Hence, in-your-facial.

I do believe that the country is much better off than in 1965, but that was the last time that there was a significant jump forward politically in any progressive sense. I also believe that in the following years one side patted themselves on the back and the other side decided grudgingly that they would go along with things and keep their grumbling limited to mono-chromatic social gatherings, lodge dinners and holiday get-togethers. It's always been pretty obvious to anyone paying attention though that not a lot really changed. You need only look at the continuing disparity in income, incarceration, public education, college entry, etc. to know that Jim Crow has just laid back a bit and is cruising down the boulevard with the top down. And for those that need mass media to deliver the message, consider that it didn't take Sasha Baron Cohen as Borat more than 10 minutes to get a crowd of rednecks to gleefully join in for a chorus of Throw The Jews Down The Well... and assorted misogynist, racist and homophobic paeans.

I might assert that it wasn't technically the election of Barack Obama that stripped off the IKEA quality veneer and brought the shit bubbling to the surface, but he has certainly become the figurehead for the Fear Party Movement. It's just nothing new. It's always been there. Had the election come in a time of economic prosperity the lid would have probably stayed on for a few more years. It's time though and I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing, provided that race and class issues are addressed in a national, holistic sense. Portions of the nation have always wrongfully taken a moral highground on racism and fairly well convinced themselves that the civil rights movement was about the South.
Surprise, Boston! Surprise, New York City!

And simply for the purpose of clarification on points on race vs. class... My point is really that there is a lot of overlap between the two issues, but they've always been addressed separately. There was an interview earlier this year where George Stephanopolous was trying to draw out Barack Obama on the subject of affirmative action, and whether it should exist at all, or perhaps be a class-based focus rather than race-based. The questions were posed in the framework of whether race should be a factor in college admittance for Sasha and Malia (pretty smarmy tactic on George's part). Obama answered, as I would have expected, because I agree with him, that his daughters were Ivy League legacy on both their parents' sides and could rightfully be removed from the equation. There are socio-economic factors that make race-based affirmative action (and other race-based viewpoints and legislation) sound and moral policy. I do believe however that until the overlap with class-based issues are addressed, then neither will be addressed properly.

Culture? That's another story altogether. Racially and ethnically based monolithic views of culture continue to astound me.

And I believe in throwing hand grenades.