Rosa Parks’ funeral was held the other day. President Clinton was
in attendance. President Bush was not. He was hobnobbing
with British royalty at the time. Remember a few months ago, the
pictures of thousands of black people without food and water and
sanitary conditions in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?
Remember the bodies floating down the streets behind news
reporters? The old woman in a wheelchair, dead, with a sheet over
her as she rotted on the sidewalk? And remember Kanye West saying
that “President Bush doesn’t care about black people”?
Rosa Parks, the activist catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement that
propelled Martin Luther King, Jr. to prominence, was the first woman to
lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda this week. The President and
others laid wreaths by her casket, but the Pres. didn’t attend her
funeral in Detroit. Then again, I can’t really claim it’s a
racially motivated indifference considering that on the day when it was
announced that 2,000 US servicemen have died in the Iraq War, Pres.
Bush was attending a $15,000 a plate fundraiser.
Okay, do you remember that 64 year old black man that was beaten by
police in New Orleans a few weeks ago? Remember that video of
four officers beating the s— out of him. Actually, two were
NOPD and two were Federal agents who happened to be passing by and
offered some assistance. Assistance to the officers, that is, to
wrestle the man to the ground.
Remember a few weeks ago when Bill Bennett, former Education Secretary,
equated black people with crime in this country when he did an on-air
gedunken experiment in which he said:
“If you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole
purpose — you could abort every black baby in this country and your
crime rate would go down. That would be an impossibly ridiculous
and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go
Yes, I’m talking about race again. It’s all over the news in
various ways, mainly brought to the fore by Rosa Parks’ death recently.
Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. Columbus Day was … uh,
whenever that was. Native Americans and others will, did and
should raise a stink, by the way. To Native Americans (and to
blacks if we were taught the full non-trivialized history of Columbus),
Columbus Day is the equivalent of Hitler Day. Imagine if
congressmen and conservatives argued every year that Hitler was a part
of our history and aside from some character flaws he was an American
hero for all of his accomplishments (yes, that sentence would make a
more sense if we lived in Germany but you know what I’m talking about).
Perspective is my point here. This institutional racism,
prominent but not acknowledged, is all about perspective. It’s
not about “I hate you, nigger.”
It’s about … it’s about this.
When I saw the video of that old, black man being beaten by police do
you know what I saw? My grandfather. My grandfather died
when he was 64. When I saw the video of all those people at the
Superdome, abandoned by their government on all levels through neglect,
incompetence and sheer scale of tragedy, do you know what I saw?
I saw my grandmother dying in the heat, covered with a sheet and left
to rot. Grandma. My nephews ailing as their mother cried
over them. My two sisters, my mother, my aunts, uncles,
stepfather. My neighborhood under siege and all the powerful,
influential people in this country too afraid to help them and
too proud to accept help.
Do you see what I mean? I don’t have any family in New Orleans
but when I saw those pictures I saw my family and friends suffering and
dying while pundits jabbered on about the transgressions of a very few
(much of which is unsubstantiated).
When Joe Scarborough, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, et
al saw the 64 year old black man being beaten by four cops, you know
what they saw? An alleged perpetrator. Can you imagine the
outrage if that dude had looked like ubiquitous Grandpa Wilford
When those guys see pictures of Laci Peterson, Holloway, Behl and
others, they see their daughters and neices and so on. They see
priceless, precious, and innocent regardless of the whole
girls-gone-wild partying that often precedes these disappearances (in
some of the college cases anyway). When they see a picture of the
girl missing in Texas they see a possible collaborator in the drug
trade. Or an illegal immigrant. They see an undesirable.
It’s the schism in perception where young, white kids murder their
peers, teachers/principals, neighbors in cold blood — all of those
school shootings/massacres — and the media almost instantly starts
wondering aloud if theperpetrators were taking anti-depressants at the
time. Or maybe they were being bullied. Home life could
have been bad. Someone else must have played a part in warping
their young, promising minds. Possibly the media or video
games. And, oh my, where’d they get the gun because someone is
responsible for that, too.
Let’s just say that the same compassion and understanding isn’t
afforded to all of our children. The phrases “charged as an
adult” and “zero tolerance” come to mind.
That difference is the racism that I’m talking about. That
somehow, others are less. That these people are like us, and
those people are a blight of some sort, whether morally, socially, or
economically. They see the latter over the humanity of
others. And then those same pundits and their ilk claim no
traces of racism and claim that there’s a level playing field.
It’s not level. The field slopes by a factor of 3/5ths, a 60%
Fight the powers that be.
Egads! The witching hour is upon us. I must away!