(...and after Massa sets off bombs in Mumbai, Puff 'll make it rain from Wall Street's sky...)
(original appearance in The Black Voice, Syracuse, NY, February 2009)
I could’ve wasted my time digging up political cartoonists, FOX News reels and KKK addresses to prove we are nowhere near done with this ‘race’ thing, but it would’ve been too easy.
Even so, some deluded liberals would annoyingly maintain that that’s simply the work of an ignorant minority. Sean Delonas isn’t the tip of an iceberg. He is the iceberg. Calm down, Blackgirl.
So, instead of squaring up against radical extremists—the honest among us—I’ve decided to show down a more lukewarm cadre of thought control experts: the Fourth Estate and the Ivory Tower.
Leading up to Barack Obama’s inauguration, the New York Times pondered about the future of race relations: Does a Black man at the helm cleanse all our crimson stains?
“During his campaign, Mr. Obama almost entirely avoided the topic of race (…) continuing a tacit understanding (…) that race is just too explosive an issue for public discussion,” writer Sarah Kershaw penned.
Syracuse University history professor, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, added, “This shakes up the status quo because here we have someone who is willing to talk about race, but doesn’t talk about it in the usual ways. Once we have one person doing that, we now have a model for how other people can do that.”
But what is “the usual way”? [Lasch-Quinn]
In his remarks to SU’s African American Male Congress last fall, Tavis Smiley of the “Tavis Smiley Show”, shared his concern that Obama’s celebrity would minimize Black outrage to a so-called “politics of grievance.”
That means the racist expansion of the prison industrial complex, for example, becomes a moot point. If I acknowledge that one in nine Black men between the ages of 21 and 34 are already in prison, If I say that Black women have only recently been trumped by Latina women as the fastest growing prison population, If I simply state what the American Public Health Association already has, my utterances are regarded as nothing more than the rants of an embittered Colored person.
I might lament that Ivory Tower statistics only point to the Otherness of Black life—and, ironically, legitimize one’s lack of care. Case in point: media’s overuse of what, author, David Wilson calls an invented term.
“Black-on-Black violence” built the idea that such ‘savagery’ is somehow peculiarly Black and separate from State accountability, save hyper-surveillance and imprisonment (and cheap labor, CXW stock jumps…).
However, I’m afraid, without a body of information that reveals patterns of extra-oppression among peoples of the same raced heritage, without some bigmouths—Reverend Sharptons, Jacksons, Minister Farrakhans— to talk about race in Lasch-Quinn’s “usual ways,” we are bound to forget that this omission of ‘aggressive’ race-talking worked our country into a lull about racism—and difference, period—in the first place.
Because bleeding-heart liberals weren’t bringing revolution any quicker.
Kershaw called Barack Obama the “omnipresent icebreaker.”
But if that means I can’t call attention to racial injustice without, God forbid, implying ungratefulness for my Black President—by all means, send me to last century.