Thursday, February 4, 2010

"I forgot he is black"

I've been meaning to blather about this topic since I read the article (I think it was last week). I'd link the article but I'm currently too lazy to go look it up and find it again so if you really wanna know - go bond w/  the Google.

Any who, the gist of the article was in some sort of political commentary on the State of the Union last week, one of the commentators (a white guy) apparently said something to the effect of "I forgot he was black". And apparently people are freakin' about this. Apparently people seem to think this means "I thought he was white" which is not at all the same thing in my mind. Or they scream that they don't want people to forget they're black because they have a rich and varied culture that they're proud of.

And my thoughts include: "Who the frick cares??" What I'm gonna vote the commentator meant (cuz I've said the exact same thing myself, not about the president but about other people) is that in a "post-racial america" skin color isn't necessarily the first or primary identifying characteristic of a person. It used to be that people saw "black" or "white" before they saw "human" or "male" or "female". Most of the time, now I just see people. I might note that they're of a certain ethnic group but its more in the same way I note that someone has freckles or brown eyes.

I mean yes I've had it happen once or twice that I introduce person A to person B and lets say that person A is a little less.... accustomed to a multicultural society, I've had them come to me later and go "You didn't mention that person B was fill-in-the-blank-race/culture". And honestly my response is "Oh, I didn't even think about it. I guess I forgot they were fill-in-the-blank". But generally speaking the person having the person A experience is usually MUCH older or is say from a part of the country that is not as ethnically diverse as say Houston where I was raised.

And in using the term "post-racial america" I do not mean that racism is now extinct. Believe you me it is alive and well and comes in every color, creed and flavor out there. (I don't buy the whole "racism in reverse" tag, thats crap, its all racism, I don't care what color you are). What I mean by it is that apparently enough of the country (over 50%) has largely been able to see past the bulk of their "issues" on the subject and I'm going to use Obama's election to the post of President of the United States as my proof.

My last thought is this: of course you have a rich and varied cultural background. You're a human being. We all have one. Skin color might be one way to start identifying what background a person comes from but its far from the only measure. I have friends whose parents might say, be from India, but they were raised in the United States for the last 3 generations and are now so thoroughly "Americanized" that they don't consider themselves to be "Indian", they consider themselves to be "American". And "American" has traditionally been defined as "White Puritans". So if I'm going to judge what this friends "rich and varied cultural background" is based on just their skin color, I'd be wayyyyy off. Likewise I've got a mighty whitey friend who was born and raised in South Africa and immigrated to the US as an adult. He considers himself to be African American.... and he's WHITE. So please don't tell me your skin color equals your background because this world is far too complex and varied and wonderful to ever be that mundane.

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