Friday, November 7, 2008

This Just In! Obama has Erased Racism in the United States?

I've been having a hard time figuring out how to approach the race issue with this whole election. However, this dumbfuck has created a glorious segue to the way that feel about things:

“You know, if you were a slave in the old South, what did you get as a slave? You got free room and board, you got free money, and you got rewarded for having children because that was just, you know, tomorrow’s slave. … Can I ask a question? How’s that different from welfare? You get a free house, you get free food, and you get rewarded for having children. Oh, wait a minute, hold on a second. There is a difference: The slave had to work for it.” - Jim Quinn [hereinafter, Douchebag], on radio program The War Room with Quinn & Rose

Okay, let's break this down. First, Douchebag says that slaves should have been grateful for their station in life because, dammit, they got to eat and not live outdoors. Plus, they got to have children! Who whines about that?!

Next, Douchebag says that welfare is the same as slavery. That may or may not be a tenable argument, although I'm certain that Douchebag and I have very different reasons why. However, he goes on to reasons that it might actually be different because slaves had to work for their (non-existent) living.

Now, let's not get into the racial breakdown of who receives welfare because that missed the point completely. The point that has been clearly demonstrated through this Douchebag's ability to say such things and keep his job is that merely electing a Black [1] president does not magically fix race relations in this country.

I've been watching the 24-hour news cycle all week long, and while there are glowing aberrations (Oh how badly I want to be Rachel Maddow's friend...),the majority of what I've been hearing from white pundits is how great it is that we can finally move on from those pesky race problems and finally get to the business of fixing Uh-mer-i-cuh. But don't worry, you radical socialist liberals, they've always got the token Black person to throw in the "Um, guys? Maybe it's not the best thing to say we've moved past race in this country..." so that the whiteys can rebut with their "But we elected a Black dude!"

Let's get one thing clear: my views about racism fall to the very left of the political spectrum. I believe that racism is an institutionalized problem that affects every aspect of life in the United States. I believe in reparations, I believe in affirmative action, and I believe in funding social welfare programming which works towards understanding and inclusion of these issues. So, when I say that the whole idea that racism is "over" because we finally elected a Black president is offensive, it should come as no surprise.

Maybe the theory of color blind racism hasn't quite reached the mainstream. But, the idea that the ability of one person to "pull himself up by his bootstraps" means that every other member of the Black community should be able to as well only perpetuates the idea that all people in that community are the same. I keep hearing that "now Black students have a role model," and I don't want to negate the overwhelming importance of that fact. However, it does not mean that all the limitations placed on racial minorities have magically disappeared in a cloud of Obama greatness.

I'm excited that the issues of race have been brought more squarely to the front of politics in the United States because it's been a long time coming. However, we cannot use this as an excuse to declare victory on the race war and move along to other issues. Racism is still an issue in the United States, and will continue to be until we acknowledge their existence and begin to genuinely work towards its eradication. The possibilities have been greatly expanded, and for that I am truly enthusiastic, but please stop minimizing the issue by declaring that it can be completely remedied by one president's election.

[1]: I use the term "Black" to reference the color of President-Elect Obama's skin while not making a statement about his nationality or race. My use of the term "Black" is not meant to offend, but merely reference color of President-Elect Obama's skin as it is reflected in the current culture of the United States. Maybe we can get to the offensive nature of conservative "is he or isn't he" conversations another time...

6 comments:

James said...

I'm curious about your footnote -- do you doubt that Barack Obama is black, as that word is understood in the U.S.?

I realize that other societies see race differently than we do. But there's a strong consensus here on what race is, and Obama seems to fall firmly, 100%, into the "black" category.

ChangeAgent said...

Actually, the footnote was trying to say exactly what you just said, but apparently came across wildly incorrect. :)

I just felt the need to explain why I used the term "Black" instead of "African-American" because I didn't want to offend, although it seems I might have missed the mark a bit...

James said...

Ah, okay -- thanks!

When you said you were using the term "black" without making a statement about Obama's race, I thought you were raising the issue of whether he was black, or what his race is.

Thanks for clearing that up!

wrmarsolek said...

We should totally be Rachel Maddow's friend. Why not?
Remember, Avenue Q.

ChangeAgent said...

I feel like if Rachel just got to know us, she'd totally want to be our friend. I mean, we are FUN!

tia said...

Hi,

My name is Tia and I'm an editor at OpposingViews.com, the debate website. Since we both cover race issues, I thought I'd drop you a note. I would've e-mailed you but I couldn't find an address.
See, we're currently having a discussion about whether or not we still need affirmative action. You can see it here:
http://www.opposingviews.com/questions/do-we-still-need-affirmative-action
Although vetted experts are the ones doing the debating, anyone can contribute by choosing a side and posting comments about the experts' arguments.
Check it out and, if you have the time, let me know what you think at tia@opposingviews.com
Thanks!