Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Here we go again

Here we go again…
I recently had a conversation with one of my co-workers about the rage of racism, which continues to hemorrhage throughout this nation. This conversation occurred after I had attended a reception celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine with Elizabeth Eckford; and three days before about 40,000 folks from around the country traveled to Jena, Louisiana to denounce the treatment of the Jena Six; and about 20 days after the kidnapping and torture of Megan Williams in West Virginia. I guess tomorrow we could continue the conversation to include the clueless and offensive remarks recently made by Fox TV’s Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly was recounting his experience during a recent visit to Harlem’s famed Sylvia’s Restaurant:

"[W]e went to Sylvia's, a very famous restaurant in Harlem. I had a great time, and all the people up there are tremendously respectful. They all watch The Factor. You know, when Sharpton and I walked in, it was like a big commotion and everything, but everybody was very nice.
"And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship."

Now, my co-worker (she’s white, maybe I should’ve mentioned that!) is a young, thoughtful, intelligent woman, but as with many white folks, she didn’t understand when I tried to explain that for the most part, black folks are raised/socialized from Day 1, to live in a mighty, white world, and that white people have the luxury of choice of whether to deal with black folks or not. Case in point, Bill O’Reilly is well over 60 years old and supposedly a well-traveled, sophisticated man, but this is obviously one of the few times he's ventured out of his comfort zone and patronized a Black-owned restaurant. Did he mean this comment to be racist, probably not, but despite his intent, it is racist, and just plain ignorant. Bill, my man, you (and many others) need to get out more.

1 comment:

TID said...

I was thinking about our conversation after the panel last week. Someone commented that there is A definition of blackness that is universally understood and that as absolute a paradigm for whiteness doesn't exist. it was interesting to hear you give the other point of view: that we miss what is possible and what defines people of color independently because we all ASSUME that we know what that framework is. It is interesting because we do not automatically assume to know what whiteness is... in art, it is post-modern and individual and without specific cultural location. In essence we are all working from an understanding of where and how we fit (or not) into the multiple spaces we occupy; and honestly, as we all know, no one can really be defined by any one aspect of their existence. then again, i'm not sure that most believe that.