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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

black/white


When Greg put me on his sidebar (if he had one), he said that I had "good stuff on race in America (he's one of those black people, you know)". The first part I thought was very kind, and the second I found so funny that I almost did a spit take. I should add that I know Greg from his blogging, so I knew where he was coming from.

I haven't mentioned race all month, I don't believe, though I've been thinking about it for a few reasons, some of which will require their own posts.

One item is this story in England about "black" and "white" twin baby girls. Their parents are both of mixed race. I just read about in JET. The magazine noted: "Often, people don't believe Kian [the darker child] is my baby, which can be quite upsetting at times," said the mother.

Another is the television show on FX called "Black.White.", not coincidentally adjacent to the babies' story in JET. I was REALLY nervous about this program. Blackface? Whiteface? But the makeup is effective, some better than others. The theme, by the show's co-producer Ice Cube, is good.

Someone asked if the show was provocative, interesting, hokey. The answer is yes.

I'm as frustrated with the white guy, Bruno, as the black guy, Brian, is with his Pollyanic world view.

I thought Renee, the black woman, was naive or in denial, if she thought that what the long-haired guy in the bar wasn't speaking some truth. He noted some of the black kids thought that excelling in school was not a desirable thing. ("Acting white" was the term I heard years ago.)

Certainly, the most touching character so far has been Rose, the white girl who, in makeup, joined a rap poetry session. Her palpable frustration about living a lie with these very honest poets was not only touching, but great television.

So far I've seen two episodes of the limited series that ends April 12, and have recorded a third.

So, I'm talking about these two stories and I get into this minor verbal tussle with someone who suggested that class is the real determining factor in how people's lives will fare.

I don't necessarily disagree in some respects, but the point I was making was that people make decisions about people based on race, long before they've sized up someone's socio-economic status.

When black people are together trying to describe a non-present white male, they'll say, "Oh, it's the white dude with brown hair."

At least in my presence, when a group of white people are discussing an absent black man that not everybody knows, they'll often say, "He's the black gentleman with..." and name some feature about his clothing or hair or family situation. Often, they'll look at me to ascertain whether it was OK to identify another person by race, or have they stepped into Politically Incorrect land. Well, no, it's fine, I nod.

People see race/color. People who claim that they don't see race make me nervous. It's like saying you don't see hair color or gender. It's out there. It's OK to recognize it.

Black people, when describing an absent black person, often describes skin color, "the light-skinned guy."

Solving racism will not come by pretending we all look the same.
***
Gay Prof has been thinking about race. So has Thom (Mar 23).
Indeed, much of the country has been focused on the immigration bill in Congress; the House bill, at least the one that existed yesterday morning, seems both xenophobic and impractical. Even W doesn't appear to support that position. The Senate appears disinclined to criminalize priests who feed illegal immigrants, I just read.

4 comments:

GayProf said...

People who claim that they don't see race make me nervous.

Yeah -- they make me nervous as well. If the don't see race, can we depend on them to see the Klan marching down the street?

Lefty said...

Oh Roger, that third episode of Black/White is my favorite. It deals alot of the The Spark's son, Nick.

What has surprised me the most about the show is how much I find myself wanting Carmen to just stop talking. Nearly everytime she speaks I just groan and close my eyes.

I also find it interesting that so far it's always the Wurgels that feel this need to "come clean" about their deception to their black associates/friends.

It's an interesting social experiment, one that's has much more gravitas that I expected.

John said...

I just happened across this blog while looking for opinions on this Black/White show. I thought it had an interesting concept, but could they have picked a bigger jerk to represent white guys. This guy is such an idiot he makes me embarrassed to be a white guy.
I have often heard the argument that racism is learned, but I believe we all fear those that are different as an instinctual reaction. The learned behaviour is to accept all others despite race, which is a much harder task to pull off. This show however; had lofty goals of mutual understanding, but I think it will fail miserably by just trying to personify stereotypical behaviors.
I don't think I will continue to watch it.

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