Wednesday, September 14, 2005
The unbearable Blackness of being
This sighting yesterday prompted all the merry minions to scurry from their cubicles and align themselves at the windows with uninterrupted sights of the Brooklyn Bridge and FDR Drive from our office. Choruses of "ooh's" and "ah's" just made me roll my eyes and continue working. I suppose my blatant indifference to the commander 'n thief's arrival for annual UN general summit meetings were blinking in neon letters because Al*, the resident GOP-flag bearer was incredulous that I had no intention of craning my neck to see what was happening. I politely demurred, but it seemed as if he needed to phone a friend to take a fucking hint. Little did he know I had a lifeline of my own in store.
Me: "Um...I'd rather pass on that one."
Him: "But, but....it's not every day we get to see the president! You should wave a greeting out of respect!"
Respect? You want me to pay respect to a drunken frat boy who hid out in the luxuries of Air Force One rather than heading down on the ground where people were dying in New Orleans? I'd really like to send my regards with a phlegm-laced token of appreciation for such a bang up job. How many Marlboro Lights do you think I'd have to chain smoke downstairs to hit my mucus quota?Bullseye.
He skulked away from my desk back to the East River view, smirk full of smarm replaced with visible contempt of the "how dare that negress use that tone with me!" variety.
It's uneasy exchanges like these I've tried to avoid since Katrina wrought her fury. Simply because by and large, White people just don't fucking get it. My Kanye West moment happened out of the sheer repulsion of listening to these condescending assholes talk long enough to reveal what really lies beneath. And just as the hurricane ripped through cities to lay bare the ugliness of truths we've tried to sweep under the carpet, the apathy of White America has come squarely into focus in the aftermath of such a publicized cauldron that resurfaces about every decade without any real discourse to address the roots of the problem.
In the fallout of thousands from New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast decimated by the destruction, fingers have been quick to point out class as the prevailing issue which left so many residents stranded without a way to escape. A not-so-clever tactic to walk on the eggshells of that dirty 4 letter word non-minorities avoid like the plague. RACE.
Who are the poor? With whites making up 72 percent of the population, the United States contains more poor whites than poor blacks or Hispanics. In fact, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that the increase in white poverty in nonurban areas accounts for most of the recent uptick in the poverty rate. But only a little more than 8 percent of American whites are poor, compared with 22 percent of Hispanics and nearly a quarter of all African-Americans (in a country that is 12 percent black). This represents a significant advance for blacks in recent decades, thanks to the growth of the black middle class, but it's still a shamefully high number. By contrast, immigration has sent poverty among Hispanics up, though it has not been as intractable for them across generations. - source, Newsweek.com [The Other America]It's impossible to disconnect the complexities of race and class when weighing in on the repercussions of what went on in the Big Easy. The uncomfortable truth is that the color of one's skin not only determined how skewed press coverage would be in the mainstream media [ex: the now-infamous Yahoo! press photo captions, incessant loops of young Black men looting] but in how evacuees were being unwelcomed with not-so-open arms in nearby cities.
White suburban police closed at least one bridge to keep a group of blacks from fleeing to white areas. Over the course of two days, a white river-taxi operator from hard-hit St. Bernard Parish rescued scores of people from flooded areas and ferried them to safety. All were white. "A n--ger is a n--ger is a n--ger," he told a NEWSWEEK reporter. Then he said it again. When they did focus on race [in the aftermath], many Louisianans let their fears take over. Lines at gun stores in Baton Rouge, La., snaked out the door.The new catchphrase of this debacle is "the blame game." As if pointing out the obvious for the sake of banding together for photo ops will do any good at this point. It's been said that the very definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different result every time. Well, it's high time that America check itself into a psych ward because the self medications with dimestore salves instead of cold, hard therapy will ensure more casualties ahead to rouse the majority still wandering around eyes wide shut.
- The Cube commented at 9/16/2005 09:56:00 AM~
For September 14th . . .
You write beautiful true sad words today, even if it's a white boy like me hearing them.
- TriniPrincess commented at 9/16/2005 11:57:00 AM~
The outlook is pretty grim and very sad, but regardless of who reads not just my anger channelled but many other voices out there, we can start to rectify the situation at hand. And thanks for checking out the site. Peace.
- Berry commented at 9/16/2005 12:58:00 PM~
Wait...did you sneak this one in? Great posts.
- TriniPrincess commented at 9/16/2005 01:03:00 PM~
LOL, kind of...it was a draft pending for like a week but I finally put it up last night.
- Will commented at 9/16/2005 02:35:00 PM~
You think YOUR job was bad that day? Lawd, I work with ALL black people and they, too, were pressed up against the windows, staring at the heliport like he was gonna come by and shake their hands.
Same thing when he came to our convention in '04. Black folks falling all over themselves to get into that session. Blecch.
It's.a.damn.shame. Pass me a Marlboro. LOL
- TriniPrincess commented at 9/16/2005 02:45:00 PM~
[pausing to remember what it felt like to not be surrounded by talk of boating repairs, stocks and Long Island property taxes all day, erryday] *sigh* Those were the days...
It's almost as if Black folks want to will [no pun intended, hehe] him to give a shit about us. How much more proof do you need to see we aren't a priority? When are we gonna learn?
I've got the ultra lights pack with menthol.... ;o)
- Michael commented at 9/16/2005 08:58:00 PM~
Great post, Trini.
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