I didn’t think it would happen to me but I’ve been dragged into the Lin-sanity about Jeremy Lin. His amazing athleticism didn’t do it to me. I got sucked into the controversy over ESPN reporting on him. It amazed me that two people were terminated from their job and there is no “official” news site that will show the original headline or video of what was said. It’s astounding to me that in such a big news story that affects lives there is no way to choose for myself if I think the comments were racist. When I blinked and missed Janet’s wardrobe malfunction, the next day, I could see stills of it in multiple newspapers. Why do I get to decide for myself if a jeweled nipple offended me but not a word in a sentence. From what I understand the headline was stupid, if not malicious, but the sportscaster was using a commonly used saying that did not have it’s origin in racism. Unlike getting jewed, gyped, or being called an Indian giver which all stem from bigotry, having a chink in your armor refers to an actual defect or gap in your gear.
We are so PC and litigious in this society we can’t talk about issues or repeat comments without someone being in danger of crucifixion. A few years ago, I remember Dan Savage and some black spokesperson (that’s right I can’t tell them apart either sometimes) having a discussion with an NPR reporter about how we as a society have used curses and slurs to both help and hurt Peoples. It frustrated me to no end because they specified these words by calling them the N, C, F, S, and F word. That’s right, in a scholarly discussion about language these grown men were talking in code. A code that began to confuse even them. You see, fag and fuck both start with the same letter and a considerable amount of time was wasted when every five to ten minutes they had to keep saying, “the F word”, “the F word?” “No, the Other F word” until they were pretty sure they were all talking about the same F word. I don’t understand how a country that is built on a theme of self-determination and autonomy can let supped up Powerpoints called news programs tell them what to think with no ability to review and make an informed decision for themselves.
I am an NPR nerd. Sustaining member with the tote bag and everything. Today, I turned on the radio to hear news of the killing of two journalists Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik. As with most events that happen outside of the United States, immediate in-depth coverage was provided by streaming the BBC. Why doesn’t the US have real world news like BBC International or CNN International? Why do we only watch news that is wrapped up in a three-minute, biased, special effects bow?
In Baratunde Thurston’s book How to be Black, he suggests handing all responsiblity for fixing racism to white people. At first, I thought that was a ridiculous idea. In my experience, too many white people don’t even know what racism really is. Racism is the thinking that makes another person less than you in your mind. Not different, less. Now, I don’t know. Maybe white people should handle it. Maybe they won’t get so caught up in the words and not the meaning. ‘Cause I gotta tell you, most of the time I don’t even know which slur goes with which ethnic group. That’s right, mick, spick, cracker, you’re all just white people to me. Being the only black person in any room outside of my house 90% of the time since I was five years old makes me think about race more and less than others. White people are just people unless they say or do something racist and non-whites are just people unless they do or say something that I think will fit into a negative stereotype of their race.
Ignorance is rampant and even sought out on a regular basis. When we choose only to listen to people who think exactly like us, we are embracing a type of ignorance. I framed most of this blog in terms of racism because it’s always been easier to see than economic, ethnic, or political differences. I wish the US would teach history, real history, full of meaning and story. We would all learn better. We might even remember that each of us is different, but not less, past the test at the end of the semester.