Friday, July 31, 2009

International Blog Against Racism Week

The first thing my father said when I told him my then-new boyfriend, Luke, was half Black was "does he look like a Negro?" I was dumbfounded. I didn't know what to say. After a long pause I replied with an affirmative. Yes, my boyfriend looks like a Black person, and I wouldn't have been at all taken aback if that had been the question: "does he look Black?" But "Negro?" It reeked of preemptive hate, of ignorance, of disgust.

I didn't think of that conversation again until weeks later when my mother casually mentioned a phone call she had with my father concerning Luke, in which he told her that he didn't want me dating a Black man. I was enraged; enraged that he would be so racist, enraged that he would go behind my back to gossip about my boyfriend-- a human being, might I add-- as if he were some sort of intrusive foreign object.

I called my father in a fit of anger and demanded to know what exactly he'd said. I didn't get answers. I didn't get sorry. I didn't get what I wanted or needed to hear. I got "you can date a Black man-- but I wouldn't want you to marry one." I was told that I had to preserve my culture, that White people belong with White people and "colored" people belong with colored people. It didn't matter that Luke has treated me leagues better than any of the White men I was involved with before him. No amount of kindness and respect would unkink his hair, narrow his nose, lighten his skin, or erase his Jamaican father that ran away before he was born. To my father, the essence of the person I love so much does not matter, only his race.

That was my first real, true encounter with racism. It's out there. It's very, very real. No matter what anyone says, we are not in a post-racial society. People still say the "N" word in jest and to harm. People cross the street when the see a person of another color walking toward them. People will tell you that love cannot be colorblind.

Here's what I want you to do: check out the links and videos I've listed below. I've got some recommended satires, some slam poetry, a couple articles, and some music. After you've done that, I want you to challenge yourself to do the following: next time someone makes a racist remark-- even if it's supposed to be a "joke"-- say something. Don't stand idly by and condone their ignorance. Tell them that what they're doing is wrong. Ask if they know that the words they're saying are hurtful. Whatever you do, don't just let it go. We will never even be able to entertain the idea of a "post-racial society" until we stop treating racism as acceptable.

As part of International Blog About Racism Week (it officially ends on Monday, but don't let that stop you), here are some videos, links, and great books for you to check out and get you really thinking about racism.

Abolish the "N" Word: Watch the intro, please.

Emmett Till

Raising Katie: What adopting a White girl taught one Black family

Erasure by Percival Everett: Black existentialist author Thelonius "Monk" Ellison. is disgusted when he finds out the biggest novel around is "We's Lives in Da Ghetto," penned by a Black woman who spent but one weekend in Harlem. To poke fun at her novel, he writes a parody titled "My Pafology." To his disgust, it quickly rockets to the top of the bestseller list and for the first time in his writing career, he is a highly recognized and highly paid. Percival Everett is an exquisite writer and this book is one of his finest.

Negrophobia by Darius James
: the most bizarre book you'll ever read. I won't spoil it, but it's thick with delightful social commentary.

Pinktoes by Chester Himes
: all you need to know is that it's about Mamie Mason, a Black socialite, who attempts to promote racial harmony through wild, desegregated orgies. One of the more entertaining satires I've read.

Black No More by George S. Schuyler: the first African-American-written satire known. Schuyler creates a world where science has allowed Black people to turn themselves into White people. One would think the invention would lessen racism, but instead society becomes more paranoid than ever. A very accessible satire, and extremely enjoyable.

Bi-Racial Hair by Zora Howard: I couldn't embed this slam poem, but do check it out-- it gives me chills every time. Can you believe she was 14 when she wrote and performed this?

Nigger Niggas & Niggaz by Julian Curry

Yellow Rage

Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday

Black or White by Michael Jackson

They Don't Really Care About Us by Michael Jackson

"Some things in life we just don't want to see, but if Martin Luther was living, he wouldn't let this be."


jules said...

Perfect post.

amanda said...

I got chills reading this.

I'm sorry your father was so cruel and ignorant; I am, however, so happy that you're happy with Luke. ;)

rubybastille said...

This is a great post. I wish I the audio was better on that Biracial Hair poem, because the other two blew me away.

Claire said...

Late comment, but thanks for the links.

Anonymous said...

It is certainly interesting for me to read this post. Thank author for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.


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