There have been two recent situations that have gained media attention which have been challenging to those with strong opinions on race and racism. Last week there was a ‘discussion’ on The View between so-hosts, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Sheppard on the usage of the N-Word (click on the link above to see the video). A quick recap: Hasselbeck argued that no one should use the N-word and Goldberg and Sheppard, who admitted that she used it, tried to explain to her about the nuances of the N-word, why some black people use it in a different connotation than white folks. It didn’t go very well. Here is the transcript.
These days it seems to be extremely challenging to step out of our self-imposed boxes and acknowledge that other people’s experiences besides our own actually matter. Because our personal experiences – both positive and negative- have shaped our perspectives, what becomes challenging is realizing that not everyone has shared the same experiences which ultimately means that when differing perspectives about specific issues are discussed there is going to be a differing of opinion.
A great example of this was the lines in proverbial sand that were drawn between white women and women of colour during the Democratic presidential race between Hilalry Clinton and Barak Obama. Similarites that were thought to exist were suddenly questioned. Allegiances were tested and some permanantly broken.
Most of the time when confronted with a differing view on let’s say, gardening or how to use an appliance in a more efficient way, it’s relatively easy for us to quickly change our perspective from how we used to mow our lawn or cook on our grill. However, in relation to topics that we have a personal stake in, our perspectives, are harder to change.
For this reason, I have a very hard time tolerating the antics of Hasselbeck, to the point where I do not watch The View because when I do I am compelled to punch my TV screen when I see her smug, privileged face (whew. Got that off my chest). But in order to practice what I preach, l do acknowledge that her opinions are formed from her life experiences, so while I don’t entirely agree with her, her points should be acknowledged and respected. However, maybe it is because of the Clinton campgain, where punches where thrown at the crotch level one too many times for my liking, but my side-eye continues to be in full effect.
The main concern that many bloggers have noted in the past week, though was not what Hasselbeck said, because we have heard that "we are the world" nonsense before, but the visual connotations surrounding the discussion. Danielle over at The Black Snob looks at the impact of Hasselbeck’s crying stunt on the show:
I actually started laughing when Elisabeth Hasselbeck started crying. I think (she cried) because this isn't an issue can be dressed up with kittens and rainbows. It involves complex, deep drama that can't be worked through in 45 minutes on Dr. Phil. They want to be "done" with the issue of race and wonder why-oh-why can't we just be free, hug a tree and be all "the same" already, because she's there. She's cool! She's totally post-racial! What's your problem? But then there was the whole not realizing that saying "we're the same" and us actually being "the same" are two entirely different things. It think it's a combo of guilt and frustration because she knows she doesn't get it, but doesn't want to go down that scary path to finding out what the "real" problem is.
Crying over shit like this is a cheap way to show you care or that you take it seriously when you're really just crying because you think people are "picking" on you. It's a sort of luxury only white women of a certain caliber can afford. Mainly, non-poor, young and attractive white women. If you're an unattractive, old, broke white woman or if you're a non-white woman and you have the nerve to cry, no one gives a shit about you. No one feels sorry for you. No one tries to help you understand. Elisabeth is just using the tools given to her to demonstrate that she's a "good white person." Not one of those bad white people who teaches their children to hate us darkies. Her tears were trying to tell you that.
We have all heard the argument: “Well if black people can say it, why can’t we?” Let me say that this argument is tired. I live in a different country and even I can say that in Canada where our history of racism is, well far from tolerable but not as historically and emotionally destructive as in the States, I still think that argument is bullshit. While I understand that someone who has never been called the N-word by someone who hates can could potentially physically harm you simply because of the color of your skin, whose ancestors were not chained, shackled, raped, whipped and denied the common respect that a human being rightfully deserves, might not understand the voracity of that statement but unless you live under a rock, you should have an indication that there are certian words and actions that if acted upon or said are socially and politically divisive.
Plus, why are white folks so eager to say the N-word in public? It's like y'all chomping at the bit. Good luck with that.
Hasselbeck is a relatively young woman living in one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the world who, quite frankly, should know better than to be so naïve. Some bloggers like Tami, raise the idea that perhaps her little red riding hood act is in fact, an act:
So, about "the N word"...black folks probably use the word too much, 'tis true. But it is also true that we don't have a history of using the word to dehumanize and oppress another race. And we all know that what is said within the "family" is quite different from what is said by people outside of it. Anyone who claims otherwise is being disingenuous. No, Elisabeth, you can't use "the N word" and I think you, and others who make the "but black people say it" argument, know full well why you can't. So, why the dishonest argument?
What we do have to remember is while the N-word is divisive, there are other instances that serve as an indication that there is a certain segment of our population who Really. Do. Not. Get. It. Last week, I used the term ‘hipster racism’ but realized right after I used it that there was a way better example. First, here is a definition, courtesy of The Cruel Secretary:
I define hipster racism (I’m borrowing the phrase from Carmen Van Kerckhove) as ideas, speech, and action meant to denigrate another’s person race or ethnicity under the guise of being urbane, witty (meaning “ironic” nowadays), educated, liberal, and/or trendy. This racist and sexist balderdash that’s the New Yorker cover fits squarely into that definition.
Last week, it was reported that a young woman is suing a t-shit designer because she was assaulted over wearing one of his shirts:
A 25-year-old New York City graduate student is threatening to sue a T-Shirt designer after being assaulted for wearing one of his designs. The woman bought a $69 shirt from Apollo Braun’s Manhattan boutique that bore the words “Obama is my slave.” When she wore the shirt on Tuesday, four teenage girls accosted her - shoving her, pulling out her earphones, and spitting in her face, according to the New York edition of Metro News.
The unnamed woman is reportedly seeking solace by suing Braun - born Doron Braunshtein - for “all he’s got,” the designer claims. He, of course, is shirking any responsibility for the incident and says that the shirt reflects the views of “ordinary WASPs.”
“For a lot of people, when they see Obama, they see a slave. People think America is not ready for a black president,” the Israeli-born designer said.
Braun says he believes Obama is Muslim and that Obama also "reminds [him] of Adolf Hitler." "I can't stand Obama," says Braun, although he adds that none of his dislike for the candidate has anything to do with ethnicity.
No, of course not. So, is this, just as the New Yorker cover, satire? If Hasselbeck is still a bit dim as to why we do not live in a colorblind society, she needs to pay attention to this story. Here is an interesting comment from a Huffington Post article on the same story:
Most of the time if you can tell me where you came and come from I will tell you who you are.This is another lost soul who has been manipulated by the media and his own toxic mind. For me, he is a dangerous victim of an intense emotional, frustrated inner, wound. The perfect troubled candidate with a bitter agenda and time to focus and project his inner hate on a reachable support. As usual there is a lack of courage from most of those individuals, hidden behind the "It's not about race, I'm not a racist", but he gives us a subtle clue that proves the contrary. Now if we want to waist time questioning the roots or the psychology behind this Braun's wheels. We need to answer one simple question, taken from his statement. What makes him compare Obama to Hitler? If I do remember well, Hitler never spoke about Hope, unity, and faith in all the citizen of his country. The true problem of this modern democratic society, is the power of a 5th amendment - who by the way needs to be desperately updated- in the hands of dangerous troubled mind, spreading hates and violence in our society.
While I certainly agree that the idiot t-shirt wearer got what was coming to her, what I find more disturbing is that the new modus operandi among the younger generation seems to be that you can be racist, say you are not racist and therefore, not be racist. Hide behind feigned ignorance and after a few days, you will be absolved of your sins. On the other hand, those of us who openly speak about injustice and inequalities are branded as the ones who are racist. I can see behind this hypocrisy and madness, but does everyone?
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