Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is it a black thing and Kanye West.

Back before I even met my wife, I was asked a question.

A family I know had just returned from a Disneyland vacation. While there, they found themselves in a long line of mostly black people. After waiting in line for some time, they watched a small group of black kids trying to sneak in front of them in line. They were not really that sneaky and apparently no one made any attempt to stop them.

“Brohammas, you have been around black people before. Was this a black thing? Did everyone let them butt in front of us because we are white?” the mother asked in all sincerity.

This was years ago and I recall being somewhat stumped on how to answer. Not stumped because I didn’t have an answer, but more shocked at the question.
Why would the actions of these kids cutting in line be somehow related to race? Have you never seen a white kid do the same? Seriously?

Why did the family watch, closed mouth , expecting everyone else to do something? Why the expectation that bad behavior by black kids, was somehow out of your personal jurisdiction? Why not simply stand up for yourself and demand fairness? Did they assume all the black people knew each other and should police themselves, or were they simply intimidated, thinking any attempt to correct a black kid would rouse all the others to come to the defense?
Why would you assume they cut in front of you because of your race? Were they the last ones in line? Didn’t they in essence cut in front of all the black people behind you as well?

This memory came back to me, inspired by Kanye and Serena’s recent tirades. I have seen and heard observers ask similar questions. Its both sad and interesting to me that the actions themselves have nothing to do with race, but the reactions to the events are tainted by it.

I have not followed tennis seriously, but I do not recall anyone EVER attributing John Mcenroe’s behavior to his race. I’m not sure I have ever heard anyone reference Mcenroe’s race at all, unless it was in conjunction with a reference to a black player (ie Williams sisters).

Kanye West’s behavior set off an impressive flurry on twitter. Even more impressive is how quickly the “N” word was used and repeated. I do not care how badly you want to insult someone, or how much they deserve to be insulted, the use of that word is to insult someone because of their race.

Back to the Disneyland vacationers:
I would not consider myself tight with these folks, but close enough to have a general impression that they are good people. The question was asked honestly, not accusingly. An event occurred and they did not understand it. They are not the type that hate black people, or hate anyone for that matter. They would never consider themselves racist and would never give someone else reason to accuse them of racial hatred.

They are prime examples of today’s racial issues.

We are so inexperienced that ignorance prevails. Never thinking of race at all, but being intimidated and frustrated when dealing with it. Thinking all instances in which black people are involved is a result of race and representational of black people in general, or every isolated incident being a representation of a larger societal one. Better yet, many of these people do not think they attribute the actions to race while assuming all black people will defend other black people, no matter how wrong. Its a sort of blanket attribution, once removed. To call those with this mindset racist would shock them and be rejected, while at the same time placing representational burdens on all black people is inherently unfair.
That is where we are. Otherwise good people who simply don’t get it and thereby make things worse.

(on a related note I should mention that I have never kissed a dog on the mouth, find the idea of that repulsive, can dance and sing, can’t jump but know white guys who can, have never met anyone named Muffy, but I do wear boat shoes)


Mrs. C said...

One big take-away here is that there IS racism that is NOT characterized by racial hatred; it is a very broad behavior and grossly under-recognized and understood among those afflicted.

Thank you, ever and always, for your insights on this topic.

Anonymous said...

Seriously Broham, Love your blog and insights, but you have to do some proofreading before posting. The sentnece fragments and missiing words make the piece difficult to follow.

uglyblackjohn said...

Kanye - not a racist act but I doubt if he would have done the same to a big Black guy.

But as far as cutting in line;
When I was hanging out with some kids who thought that the world owed them something - we would always pick a group of quiet white people to cut in front of in line.
Maybe your friends' comments weren't that far off.

Amber said...

My husband often goes through and corrects my posts, even after I've posted them. Perhaps your wife should have login access to do the same. :)

Siditty said...

As a person who posts on her on blog, sometimes folks, we don't care, yeah we might go back later and fix the errors, but pointing them out is more annoying than helpful. If I do a blog post at 2:30 and I am trying to get out all my thoughts and make them cohesive enough to make a point, sometimes grammar is secondary. I know I suck and my blog sucks as a result :)

Aside from the grammar Brohammas, you are right. In regards to ugly black john, so those kids that thought there were owed something did that, and so now all black people do it? Really.

I remember white kids cutting in line all the time and no one saying anything, but of course I was the only or one of few blacks where I grew up. I didn't attribute it to white people, I attributed it to being rude.

In terms of people being inexperienced because ignorance prevails, maybe people want to be inexperienced, you don't see white people in droves trying to move to predominantly middle and upper middle class black neighborhoods. Maybe they are ignorant because they want to be isolated from the "other"?

Anonymous said...

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