Thursday, March 09, 2006

Racial Redundancy

So I decided to watch FX's new series: "Black. White." last night. Other than during Bush's State of the Union address, I couldn't think of another time when I wanted to throw my TV out the window.

For those of you who haven't been exposed to this nonsense (and I'm praying that you don't), this show is about two families -- one black and one white -- who "exchange" places. Using makeup (which, for the record, isn't really that convincing), they are transformed into some sort of undercover race detectives. Am I the only one not impressed by this?!

For one, this experiment has already been done before. One of the writers, John Howard Griffin, made his mark back in 1959 when he turned his skin from white to black and traveled to the south. He was able to experience, firsthand, the true depths of racism and classism. But, for some bizarre reason, he and Ice Cube have decided to redo this 'experiment'; as if something has actually changed. Why...?!

Since we know what racism is still alive and well, why do we need another silly documentary to prove that point? Why are we dedicating our resources, our intelligence, and our capital to identifying a problem that we already know exists?! Why not use those resources to combat the issues?!

Ooh! I know!

Ratings, right?


7 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Diane said...

I'm just a teeny bit white (lol!!), but I agree whole-heartedly, Andre. I do agree though that racism is alive and kicking, especially in the South, Arkansas, where I live. I am not and have never been prejudiced, and I have lots of friends.......the color of their skin, their religious views, income or any other differences have no bearing on our relationship whatsoever. I am a product of my ancestors' genes, and since my family has been in the South for generations, I probably have some black blood, along with the Cherokee Indian, Irish, German, etc. You probably have some white blood from somewhere back in the past, too. So where does that leave us? As people----just that----people. Skin color, ethnicity, religious preferences----none of that matters in relation to how I treat you, or how you treat me.

Okay, I'm done now. :)

Andre said...

Well, not exactly the point of my post, but I totally agree with you Diane.

I guess that my issue with this show -- and with the state of race relations as a concept -- is that, as a society, we spend too much time concentrating on the identifying of the problem and not enough time trying to resolve the problem.

On the one hand, I applaud the efforts of the show. I think that it's important to point out and expose the systematic practices, lifestyles, and policies which afford privilege to whites over people of color. I think that this is the first step to eliminating racism. By addressing "White Privilege" (one of the roots of racism) we can make forward strides. But how many documentaries do we need for this?!

Although it's only in its first week, I think I can predict what's going to happen: the white family is going get a 'taste' of what's it like being black. They'll try to overcome 'black language' barriers, they'll get mistreated by other whites in some insanely sensationalized way (that could only be done on a 'reality' show), etc. In the end, they'll reflect on what's it like to be black while sitting on their patio in their gated community.

The Black family will get treated like royalty, much to the chagrin of blacks, and will have a difficult time assimilating to the life of Fox News, ski weekends, and good credit.

I can just see this show reinforcing popular racial stereotypes; on both sides. What else is new?!

I guess I'll have to wait and see if this show is a tool for empowerment of just another way to restate the obvious.

Anonymous said...

I’m sorry, but I have to ask: Why do blacks still make such a huge deal about racism? I mean real racism was eliminated years ago! I don’t see “whites/colored” signs anywhere. The Ku Klux Klan is a thing of the past. You have blacks earning millions of dollars in entertainment. They’re going to college. They’re voting. Progress has been made.

I think that blacks use racism as an excuse. They need something to say to try and make people feel like they owe them something. My family never owned slaves. Over 60% of families from that time did not own slaves. The only one to own slaves was rich and most of those families are still rich today.

You don’t see Jewish people pissed off at Germans, do you?

Andre said...

@ anonymous: I'M SORRY, but racism isn't a thing of the past. It still exists today.

You're right. You don't see "white/colored" signs anymore. You don't see blacks picking cotton anymore. You don't see blacks being forced to the back of the bus anymore. But that doesn't mean that racism doesn't still exist.

Racism still exists in two forms:
(1) individual racism: where whites act out against individual people of color or (2) institutional racism: where institutions, which were created by and for whites, act against communities of color.

Individual racism consists of overt acts by individuals, which can cause death, injury, invasion/destruction of property, etc. This type of racism is more noticable in the public square.

Institutional racism, on the other hand, is much less overt, far more subtle, and less identifiable in the public eye. This is when you have institutions in our society(financial, education, political groups, and so on) engaged in racially motivated discrimination. This type of racism isn't as widely recognized publically and, as resulty, receives far less condemnation. But, it doesn't mean that it's not around. And it certainly doesn't mean that it's not destructive to people of color.

Yes. Blacks need to establish a more progressive movement. Yes. They need to fight to rise about years of oppression, racism, and degradation. Yes. They need to 'move on'. But don't you DARE presume that just because blacks folks can make a little money and bathrooms don't say "White Only" that racism and discrimination are a thing of the past. As long as SOMEONE in this country benefits from the misdeeds of the past, there will always be something to (as you so eloquently put it) "make a huge deal" about.

By the way, please don't compare the Jewish Holocaust to 400 years of slavery. It's insulting...

kc said...

If you "have to ask" about why we take something like racism so seriously, then you obviously have not learned enough, or haven't been hit with the harsh facts. If you feel the need to downplay the role that that very mentality from back then still plays on us today, then again you have not learned enough, and have not been hit with the harsh facts. I would suggest that you do some research on it.

People want to act as though we're all throwing a big pity party, looking for 'handouts', and just sitting back on our asses and waiting to be treated like royals. Are there some black people who act that way? Damn right there are! Do all of us act like that? Hell no! That's why shows like this are created, so that maybe just MAYBE, the world will see that we're not just making this stuff up, that we don't just pull the 'race card' every time something goes wrong, and that not all of us are expecting some royal treatment just because we're black. We just want to live in peace dammit. I mean, what human being doesn't?

Andre said...

@ kc: Well spoken. While I'm not entirely sure that this show will accomplish as much good as (I guess) it intends, I agree with your comments.

For whites who are blinded by their privilege, it's easy to ask what the 'big deal' is.

It's my hope that we will be able to enlighten a broad range of people so that we can turn some things around!

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