The Color of Character

Still Frustrated

I’m always looking for provocative information for this blog. I try to find new perspectives on the subject of race relations. Alas, all I read indicates to me that there are only two perspectives, and the twain never shall meet. No matter how much logic, reason, facts, history, and proof are presented by either side, the other side is cloaked in rubber, and nothing sticks or breaks through. What I find must disheartening, is that much of what I read, or actions that I fail to see taken, indicate that instead of one step back for every two steps forward, I’m feeling it is two steps back, while any step forward, if even noted, is attacked and discredited.

Some random examples of unhelpful rehashes in the current press:

If We Talk, You Need to Listen Too

An opinion in the Huffington Post critiquing the response of some whites to the upcoming Netflix program “Dear White People,” caught my eye. I won’t comment on the program, which I haven’t seen. I won’t comment on the premise. I will only comment on the opinions of the author that seem to be based on loose claims of racism that fail to acknowledge any other perspective. Not helpful. Here is a quote from Karen Topham’s opinion:

You know what? We need to talk about this truth. We need to talk about why race relations in this country are so totally screwed up. We need to talk about why, the second a black man was elected President, it so freaked out the white establishment that they decided to abandon any pretense of governing and make limiting him to a single term their one and only agenda. Not only that, but a significant part of the country joined them in feeling this way. Why? For all the “post-racial” talk, we quickly learned that what we actually had was a country in which racism simmered just below the surface and had, perhaps for decades, been waiting for something to cause it to boil over. Well, it’s boiling over, people. And if a satire like “Dear White People” can help us to examine it, GOOD! Because something definitely needs to help us. We don’t seem to be doing it on our own.

Apparently, the white establishment means Republicans, because President Obama could not have been elected without the support of whites. Those of us who voted for him must be the ones unaffiliated with the establishment. When Bill Clinton was elected President, the Republican party immediately began to assign special prosecutors to attack him from every possible angle about goings on in his personal and public life. President Clinton spent so much time defending himself from this constant barrage of prosecutions (persecution?), by the Republican party that it was impressive that he found any time to govern. Obstructionism is nothing new for the Republican party. And which party doesn’t want to keep a newly elected president to one term, if that President is from the opposing party? Before 9/11, the Democrats were certain they had succeeded in keeping George W. Bush to one term – although President W was doing a good job of losing support all on his own.

I object to Ms. Topham’s leap to the assumption that Republican obstructionism and all opposition to President Obama was racially motivated. I voted for President Obama twice, but I certainly found plenty about his policies with which to disagree. According to Ms. Topham, and others like her, I must be blinded by my white privilege to recognize that my disagreements with some of Mr. Obama’s policies were motivated by racism.

I agree that we need to talk about racism, but I don’t believe Ms. Topham wants to listen. I think she just wants to talk. She apparently has not listened to some very good thinking on the subject of whether or not obstructionism or disagreement with a black president is based on racism. I suspect that when the Democratic party obstructs President Trump, they will view it as defeating racism.

Racist Grammy Awards?

The next item that so surprised me that I still can’t believe I read it, was an opinion in the LA Times. Hold on. The premise of the editorial was that Beyonce was beaten by Adele because of the glass ceiling preventing blacks from breaking through to achievement in the American music industry. Yes, the industry where 7 of the top 10 female Grammy winners of all time are black, has a ceiling based on racism. In a country where Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Leontyne Price (stop me any time) are almost universally revered, the music industry chooses award winners by race. Here is a link to the article. I’ll let the comments section speak for me, because most seem to agree that this is an example of looking for racism under every rock, and detracting from focusing on places where it really exists. Perhaps those places, which surely do exist, are getting harder to find – which is actually something worth noting.

What Else is Frustrating?

I was going to next talk about the latest shootings in Chicago that included two young black girls, and the deafening silence from all the usual town criers, but that’s a whole different subject. I did see that Jesse Jackson had time to criticize U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Chicago Sun-Times, which isn’t a bad thing. But I wish he had time to rally the black community of his home town to protect its children, if no one else can or will. More on that in my next blog – unless something truly encouraging comes up.





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