Let's call a spade a spade, shall we?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Part of the beauty of being a white American has been that we - as a group - get to "Opt out" of the ugly side of life.

We get to come up with phrases like "It was just a Joke - can't you take a JOKE?" or other elaborate boondoggles that surround issues of race and culture which are designed to deceive, inveigle and obfuscate what is apparent to everyone.

Racism is alive and well - and thriving - in the United States.

Sure, I see it in Montreal too - but this culture has a very different history and so its brand of racism is based on entirely different factors.

When a police dispatcher gets to forward this photo to her police dispatcher friends on their Police email accounts from their Police Computers of "Air Force One"?

Racist. Nope, not freedom of speech. Not a joke. Referring to our President as a Nigger is racist.

Those of us who grew up in America know what he word nigger means. It isn't even as veiled at the term "colored" - nope. It pretty much sets the stage for what one is going to assume is a Racist comment. Really no line of delineation there.

How about this one?

Any guesses? She loves gardening and has planted the first sustainable and organic garden on the grounds of the white house since the Victory gardens?

Noooo. We all know what this means, wink, wink. Because you know - Black people in America were SLAVES...and SLAVES WORKED THE FIELD to make crops for their WHITE MASTERS, thereby contributing to the wealth and status of those white masters at the expense of their own lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Did we mention she is black here? No, of course not. We really mean she just like gardening. Alot.

And because Black American women haven't suffered enough in the way of denigration, lets remind them of the times when they could be raped and lynched for being black. Lets remind them that too many of them are still being raped and that when they call the police dispatcher to report that....Oh yeah. The police dispatchers who forwarded the Nigger email take the call.

Well, it was a JOKE, remember. Geesh, Black people are so thin skinned when it comes to jokes.

A joke like this:

So, a Nigger - complete with bone in Nose and feathered headdress, AND the soviet hammer and sickle. This is quite a nuanced image. But really, its just a joke about health care.

And here's one of my Faves:

Wow, White guys. Imposing the faces of three black men onto KKK members. Not even a veiled try there.

You are collectively scared shitless aren't you? It isn't about socialism - which you wouldn't know if it bit you in the ass since none of you have read the works of Engels or Marx beyond repeating what you hear on talk radio. Its not about health care BEING socialized since many of you are benefiting from Government Health Care through federal health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, the VA...you know, all programs the scary government run. Its because a BLACK man - unashamedly Black, with a Black wife and Black children - is running the country. A Black Man - who knows all the innuendos and backstory on all these images being served up since it has quite literally been beaten into the collective memory of African-Americans. A Black man who isn't afraid of you - with your gun toting protests and beet red faces screaming about things you know nothing about except that someone has stirred up the reality that having white skin doesn't make you better than someone else. And then you can quote the "founding fathers" who, lets face it, wouldn't have liked you either as they were traveled men of wealth and learning and you are a crazy mob who blindly repeats things they hear from other terrified white guys.

We are not in a post racial society - and only the deluded and purposely blind white people could tell you that we are. Electing this President doesn't mean we DON'T have to have the conversation that many of us are terrified of having - and not just with other safe white people. Cause we can still call the President a Nigger in private. With our safe white friends. They get the joke after all. We don't need to hide behind jokes and images and pretend ignorance of what symbols and words may or may not be racist.

The election of this President has ripped off a very infected scab on the face of America. People crying about wanting "their America to come back" - just say what you mean. The America where the President looks like YOU. The America where you can pretend that we are well beyond racism. The America where you can forward your funny jokes to one another and no one complains. Well, maybe that while lady who married the black guy and has the bi-racial daughter, but we knew she was a race traitor anyway.

Guess what. That America isn't coming back, and its death rattle is long overdue. It will kick and scream and try to get you to go along with the innuendos and winks. Cause your their friend, right? You look like me - We have the same background, right?

Nope. Some white people have turned in their membership cards at the door, me included. And I would highly warn you to watch your words around the other white people you assume to be part of your club. Because the first one of you to make one of these jokes in front of me ( and yes, there have been fool hardy souls to do so) will have your racist ass verbally handed to them so fast that they won't know what hit them.

Don't rest in peace, racist White America. You are a herpes sore on the ass of a fine country and you have got to go.

15 Baleful Regards:

The Gossiper said...

As a white person carrying an American passport who grew up all over and now lives in Britain...can I just say thank you for writing this. There is definitely racism in Britain, but it is of an entirely different flavour and the contrast of seeing it from this vantage point just makes what Americans swallow as a joke that much more poignant. I'm also doing a PhD in International Politics and nothing pisses me off more than the 'accusations' of socialism. I wish it was socialism...

Rebecca said...

This is a great post.

Anonymous said...

Brava Dawn! I have been feeling exactly the same way and it has been especially disappointing as a Caucasian Canadian to see the ignorant comments and posts from my "White" American friends on Facebook and message boards.

I cannot get over how determined they are to reject everything good and promising with this administration just because of the colour of his skin-it is just SO sad.

Lisa said...

Bravo! Wish your blog had a "like" button like Facebook!

Kait said...

The day before Obama was elected, my husband and I got custody of two biracial girls. I cried watching his acceptance speech because I knew what it would mean for our two darker skinned girls being raised by two very white parents. I am furious that people are trying to reject progress and the gift of a basic human right simply because of the color of our presidents skin. I also hate that those same people seem to not realize that Obama did not cause the financial meltdown, he was just unfortunate enough to inherit the mess.
Those "jokes" are not jokes at all, nor are they thinly veiled in the least. They are blatantly racist and disgusting. If nothing else, this man is our president. If people can respect that walking failure Bush I don't see why Obama should be disrespected because of his skin.

Laura said...

Well said!

Catootes said...

This is such a wonderful post. I wish every freakin' bigot in the world was forced read it out loud while they look themselves in the mirror.
Do you think they would recognize themselves?

mamatulip said...

Two thumbs up, Dawn, on this post.

Justin said...

Great Post. Unfortunately it isn't just the scary right wing people either.

julia said...

i love this post dawn. love it.
it gives me chills

Gerbil said...

Sadly, its not just America. Every nation has its share of this. And not limited to any one race either. Humans? We are so very stupid.

Gerbil said...

Oh & I meant to add (but am dimwitted today) that certainly there are plenty of Americans who are perfectly happy to have Barack Obama in the white house (and some of us so-called republicans at that) but don't make a lot of fuss about his race on Facebook or other social sites because well, its not - or should not be - THE defining factor of his administration. Is it kickass that suddenly the White House is really now an attainable goal for everyone (theoretically anyway)? Oh heck yes. Beyond kickass. But he's more than his race, and race should not be all people see.

But like I said, humans are stupid. And stupid has a really big mouth.

Excellent, thought-provoking post, btw. Must remember to bookmark!

Anonymous said...

I loved this. I'm a black female working in a very anti obama office and have seen on our copier (Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington D.C.) "Jokes" printed off of computers similar to what you have shown. I drove into D.C. Saturday to drop off my daughter (Saturday) and had to see the 9-12 tea party group lining up to protest with confederate flags and banners that intentionally had the President of the U.S. as a Monkey... I am curious as to how far this will go. I'm disgusted that my daughters have seen the best, and the worst of America being progressive enough to elect it's first Black Presidentm and then the disgusting aftermath. People like you give me hope. Keep keeping it real :-)

LaCasey said...

Thank you for calling a duck a duck. Great post.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this great post! I was writing a blog post about whether there are racist connotations associated with "let's call a spade a spade" and came across your blog post. The images are both powerful and disgusting -- as well as the call for us all to remember that "jokes" are not always "jokes".

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