Wednesday, May 03, 2006

In Which Our Heroine Ventures Even Further into Uncharted Water...

I did something I have never done before—I pulled a post because it was on the precipice of garnering some reactions that I didn’t think I could contend with. The post was about my three and a half year old son’s reaction to a black person—first politically correct challenge, she is not “African” American, she is from a different country, therefore I do not call her “African” American.

I pulled the post because I was queasy about writing it in the first place—because it deals with the absolutely monumental hidden elephant in the room: racism, perceived racism—basically everything we want to deny and hide from, AND it deals with my son and I did not want to expose him to anything negative—even 1,000 times removed.

I THOUGHT I felt confident about posting it—why? Because I felt that my conscience was clear and I could withstand any accusations. I still feel that way, but because my boy, who can’t defend himself and who did not give me permission to post that on the Internet, did not give me his OK. And somehow, knowing Ian, I don’t think when he is of age he would like it.

I was also accused of using terminology that was derogatory in a previous post about calling someone “appreciative and quite white” about something. He equated “quite white” with “decent,” whereas I, who grew up in the predominantly black city of Washington DC—the actual city, not a suburb—think of that phrase, as the ultimate put down of white nerdy capitulation. He also said, “You call yourself a writer?”

And I thought, yeah, I call myself a writer. That always seems to be the first thing people want to grab away from you.

I think what I am seeing is so much more of a desire to not engage in discussion but to engage in accusations and insinuations.

It is so much easier to assume something about someone and aim for the jugular than it is to honestly analyze something.

You can equate that with the last election, when it was so much more convenient for Americans to be spoon-fed their reactions on the candidates based on the press spin (that includes ALL press spin, liberal and conservative—we were equally let down) than it was to do the research and make informed opinions.

THAT is what I am afraid of and that is what intrigues me—that as a nation we are so much more comfortable with the shorthand for a person’s beliefs than we are in finding out what that person really stands for and believes in.

I’m guilty of the shorthand. I make assumptions all the time, but I honestly try and leverage my assumptions against more in-depth analysis. I am not always successful, but it is an ongoing goal.

I know I could talk until I am blue in the face about how I am not a racist. I know we all could. I went to the first de-segregated school in Washington DC and I mention that, not so much as a badge of honor, but as a wake-up call that whatever feelings I have on the subject are ingrained in my actual experience, not in something I was programmed to think or feel.

I grew up in a city that was proudly dubbed, by the majority of the population, Chocolate City.” I was talking to my friend about that moniker and how I could bring it up on my site and he said, with all of his ingrained good humor, “Don’t even go there.”

So that is where we have come? To where we cannot even utter certain truths, certain realities, for fear that we will offend someone?

I cringed when I thought I had offended people about Atlanta. I felt so bad, and yet, it was not a good experience for me and the best part was the people who wrote me (thanks y’all) telling me what I MISSED and how I should give it another chance.

I want to know what I missed. But I do not want to be presumed a racist based on the unfiltered comments of my child.

It’s my own fault—as my sister was quick to point out—because I open myself up to this criticism by writing so publicly. She is MORTIFIED that I maintain this thing, but I have persevered because I wanted to meet the challenge of breaking down the barriers and inhibitions that prevent (my) artistic expression.

I wanted to put myself in the fray and to not be afraid of recriminations.

I know what kind of person I am. I know what I am (most of the time).

I don’t have a pat way to sum this up.

I want discourse; I don’t want to shy away from opinion and criticism and reality. That’s what this site is about. But I am sensitive, I have raw emotions—I am a writer, by vocation and avocation. If that’s what I want to be for Halloween, I think we have to respect that. But I think I’m going to deflect the other labels, or insinuations, because they don’t suit me and they are made superficially, without substance or real perception.


Cynicism is another word for reality

Email me, you derelict wastrel

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