Thursday, May 10, 2007
All over the nation, race is the hottest discussion. It is a sensitive issue and much debated, especially after the Imus flap. When Star-Telegram columnist Bob Ray Sanders wrote, “Imus’ insult has gotten us talking about race”, (Friday the 13th in April), he probably meant talking black-and-white. African-Americans have never ceased talking. What he meant was that the issue of race was again center stage.
He writes: Imus has redirected our attention to the r-word… Come on, boys and girls, can you say "RACE"? Oh, I know it's difficult because you've tried so hard to avoid it, but let's talk about it once more.
My first impulse was: Great! We need to get this out into the open and clear the air. But by April 15th I was ready to throw in the towel on race discussions. So, I wrote my old school mate Bob Ray, whom I have known since age 10:
Bob Ray, Nice try in trying to get us to discuss race relations in a civil way. But I concede that we are hopeless deadlocked. The debate is over! Most whites in the south will never listen long enough to see where we are coming from.
I never anticipated some many people from around the nation and around the world would react so fiercely behind the Imus flap. There were threats of violence against the Rutgers University basketball girls. What I was seeing what the 1950s all over again.
In the past I have taken exceptions with journalists on the issue of racial perceptions, only to let them know that we are thinking beings also. Our thoughts, right or wrong, on racial perceptions differ radically from whites- a difference whites in the south refuse to acknowledge. So what? And, who cares?
The objective of the ballgame is to keep the discussion open and honest- no fair using secret slurs. Journalists have sprung a few new lexicons upon us without our full understanding and concurrence. What is a “race card” and what is a “race hustler”? Some people were offended because they believed that these are a priori given assumptions were meaningful to one and all. I beg to differ.
I am a teacher of linguistics. My background is in the study of brainwashing techniques. When examining the concepts of “race card” and “race hustler”, I realize that there is a common source for the two: Talk Radio.
From Imus to Hip Hop, from Hip Hop to the Hip Hop Project and the Hip Hop Summit, to the campaign for decency in public language, to Oprah castigating Russell Simmons, to Russell Simmons calling a conference of artist, musicians, and recording companies to clean up their act, to Snoop Doog flap, to Ice-T using the N-word till the wheels fall off, to Al Sharpton and every little picky word related to a specific race were becoming offending. Blacks were offended by whites. Women were offended by men... on and on.
Has America gone mad in race obsessions?
Read further only if you want to hear some hard-hitting dialogue on the issue. Integrity in speech and motive comes first, dignity must be preserved, honor must be assumed- other than that, I invite your discussion.
Eddie Griffin wrote:
“Over the years I have worked with brothers and sisters from Chicago and New York and have found them to be more intelligent than black people in Texas. The people are more globally conscious, economically independent, and politically stronger than blacks down South.”
Krystal (Fort Worth, TX) replied:
Wow! Really? Because if they are truly more intelligent than us, and hustled less than us, and more conscious than us, then I would expect their health disparity rates, public education systems, and % of African Americans living below the poverty line to be BETTER than ours. Not the case AT ALL.
Eddie Griffin response:
First two words: “Wow! Really?” Such a lovely expression for someone’s whose goat has been got.
Sorry Krystal, I would have never leaped to the conclusion that their (Chicagoan and New Yorkers) health disparity rates, public education systems, and percentage of African-Americans living below the poverty line to be better than ours (here in Fort Worth, Texas) because they are “smarter” and “more street savvy”. No, I would not make the quantum leap in faith. But this I know: speaking of health disparity, please consider that Tarrant County has one of the highest black infant mortality rates among Third World countries, that the high school dropout rate for black boys is around 50%, and per capita income is so unevenly distributed that it creates pockets of poverty.
And, my experiences tell a different story regarding people’s perceptions of Al and Jesse. The HBCU Alumni email group to which I belong, which is worldwide, largely and frequently characterizes them as buffoons. My personal friends all over the country also feel the same way. If I recall correctly, last year when I was in Johannesburg , South Africa , I heard a “Jesse” joke!
Eddie Griffin response:
Krystal, I confess that, in private, I may have said some bad things about Al and Jesse (very few leaders pass inspection from my perspective), but never would I speak in a public way to give fodder for race slander and stereotyping. I know for a fact that racism exists. But why feed it the little things to feed on? Some things you keep to yourself, behind closed doors, and resolved among yourselves. It is not a cover up for Jesse or Al, but maintaining the integrity and dignity and not being a negative gossiper.
When you shot from the hip, have the facts to hit the target.
I am not surprised that there are Jesse jokes in South Africa. Whether true or false, negativity spreads faster than Willie Lynch. I have heard Jesse jokes and something about his anti-Semitic remark. Again, I let people closer to the problem deal with the issue, first, before it spills over into the national public. Every man, I believe, should be given the opportunity to mend his own fences and set his own house in order, before public opinion intervenes.
I never cross the boundaries of my jurisdiction (my turf) unless invited. This is based upon my religious belief that elders of one congregation (or city) should not intervene into the domain and responsibilities of the elders of another congregation (or city) among the churches of Christ and between municipalities. This similar to the concept of republicanism, autonomy, where people are allowed to chose their own leaders, good or bad, for better or worse.
Why should I call the people who follow Jesse Jackson “duped” and “exploited”, as if they have no intelligence? People deserve the type of leadership they choose.
My suggestion is, instead of trying to discount opinions that are different from yours as ill- informed, Southern, or hickish that we respectfully disagree. I think it is 100% possible that two people can read the same article, talk to the same people, see the same film, and still feel differently about what they read, heard or saw without either needing to be labeled or characterized negatively.
Eddie Griffin response:
In truth and in all fairness, I would never class Krystal among the black southern hicks. But when voter participation in any given election is less than 2% of the voter population, ill-informed would be a good characterization for African-Americans in Fort Worth, Texas. To me, this is not a case of glass half-full or half-empty situation. The glass is mostly empty.