08 January 2009

post-race society?

my ass. excuse me. these claims are perhaps immature. please let me explain.

i grew increasingly frustrated at the "post-race" discussion brought about by the 2008 election and the fact that america might elect a (half-white, half-) black man to be president of the US. and we did. go us! we clearly must ALL be above this pesky dirty completely unmentionable race thing and moving past it to look at what the "content of (people's) character" contains, right? look, i know it's more complicated than that. they are not saying post-race means the beginning end of racism. but these days since things get cut into sound bites and introducing that media friendly term is, i think, irresponsible. it is irresponsible because it ignores that so many awful things are still going on in america, despite this one incredible event in our nation's history of our electing barak obama as president.

example? let me please direct your attention over to the fine bay city of oakland, california and the events of 1/1/09.

the bay area is certainly not beyond post-race at all. short, fast and well-known history: slowly, for the past few decades, rich people (of all races) have effectively pushed out many lower socio-economic bracket, which tend to be disproportionally communities of color, to find new homes outlying areas. what we get is a really pale san francisco with chunks of color thrown in, and then we get really colorful outer areas like oakland. or so the bay area general folklore goes.

in the first few hours of new years day as i lay face down in a fresh white pillow with visions of dick clark's stroke laden face dancing jerkily through my head, a very non post-race event was going on over in oakland. a 22 year old black male was also laying face down, but in concrete in the above ground BART station of fruitvale. his hands were tied behind his back. a 27 year old white BART police officer shot him. the 22 year old man eventually died. there was lots of amateur video that found its way to local news broadcasts. the video showed he was unarmed. i have talked about the potential of anticipated accountability due to video before. guess in the heat of the moment, people forget about this easily transportable technology....?

needless to say, many people in oakland are PISSED.

the 27 year old man, rather than have to face an internal investigation, RESIGNED. this means he has longer to keep his mouth shut. he possibly may never have to say anything, although i think that scenario is highly unlikely, yet not out of the realm of possibility. yesterday riots broke out in downtown oakland. people set cars on fire, broke windows to local businesses and basically just raised hell. violently.

i heard from a good friend of mine that he was still at work a few blocks from where the protests were at 7pm. they lit a car on fire a few cars from where his was parked. another friend of mine was working late in the city and lives off a BART station in oakland. due to the protesting, they had closed a few stations and he didn't know what to do.

i could go on about how violence is dumb and how it just perpetrates stereotypes, conjuring up images of watts riots, riots after the rodney king verdict was announced, etc.

i could do that, but other people will be speculating on this alllll day i'm sure.

instead what i'm going to do is say, there is just absolutely no way we're a post-race society. we are not. just because we elected someone who is mixed race to the presidency, does not ever mean we are a post-race society that quickly. believe me, i want to be there. but 500 plus years of racist genocidal crap has gone on in this country, and like a catholic who hasn't gone to confession in awhile, we collectively carry around those scars, but the scars mean something different to all of us.

furthermore, i would just like to add that obama is not really an african-american. before you yell at me, what i mean by that is obama is the son of a kenyan man and an white american woman. he had quite an unusual upbringing, taking him away from america and then back to hawaii. he was raised by his white family. he does not carry the burden of american slavery in his personal consciousness precisely because he is not a descendant of slaves. that important and awful mutual thread in african-american history is missing. i cannot ever profess to know what his experiences with racism would be, because my brown has a little more leche in it. but i'm sure that just as latino immigrants here unfortunately absorb the brunt of racism and discrimination going on for years, i'm am willing to bet that any newly arrived africans living in america absorb the same.

we just all need to admit american race relations was/is/will continue to be fucked up, but by wishing it gone does not make it so. otherwise i believe it would be.

isn't that right oakland?

ugh. and just to make myself clear, i in absolutely no way condone yesterday's riots. at all. i find them disgusting and frustrating. but i also understand the community is grieving, upset, and mob mentality does happen and usually gets out of hand, and it happened yesterday.

1 comment:

The Jolly Crank said...

When you say that Obama is not African American it sounds like you are claiming that there is some sort of "cultural osmosis" that must go on. Our racial identity is often given to us by others, and taken by others. When we sit around and discuss what Obama is or isn't, we are playing into that identity assignment--really in a fashion (at least in its arbitrariness) of those people in the Old South that would say a lightly complected person, who had passed as white all her life and knew nothing about her 'African American' culture, was now Black because of her 'drop of blood.' I guess I am against the idea that identity can be so easily assigned.
All that said, I pretty much agree with your post.