Dangerous Misperceptions and the Random Ten
The headline says it all: La. Protests Hark Back to '50s, '60s. The headline, intentionally or not, casts the story of the Jena 6 as one which is unusual today, as one that echoes a long-past time. It isn't. It's the latest incident in a never-ending series of incidents that have been going on for the last 400 years or so in North America. And to pretend otherwise is to give oneself a really simplistic, and I believe dangerous view of the country we live in, because we can't really do anything about racism in the US until we acknowledge that we're still dealing with it. And when I say we, I mean white people, because African-Americans are painfully aware that racism still exists and is rampant. Mos Def knows:
And he's not alone. I'd really like to be able to legitimately say we live in a society where race isn't a factor in the way we treat each other, but we aren't there, and we won't get there as long as people are saying this kind of stuff:
"I don't mind them demonstrating," said resident Ricky Coleman, 46, who is white. "I believe in people standing up for what they think is right. But this isn't a racist town. It's a small place and we all get along."
Mr. Coleman lives in Jena, and it's that sort of blindness that's a major part of the problem, because there wouldn't have been a protest in his small town if everyone got along. Mr. Coleman, whether he means it consciously or subconsciously, is saying "we all get along as long as everyone knows and stays in their place." Even if I give him the benefit of the doubt and say he's thinking that subconsciously, the fact that he can't seem to see the divisions in his own small community speaks to the larger problem of race in this country. The problem in Jena is a problem for us all, and it's not going away if we continue to treat it as an aberration, as a part of the past that crops up now and again (or that it's limited to certain geographic segments of the country). It isn't. It's everywhere, and we white people need to do a better job of calling out our own who act otherwise.
Here's the Random Ten--put your computer's music player on random and post the next ten songs to pop up. No skipping songs that make you seem overly hip out of a false sense of modesty. Frida's not the only one who knows something's going on.
1. One Thing Leads to Another--The Fixx
2. A Life Less Ordinary--Ash
3. 'Ol Bill Basie--Dave Brubeck
4. Don't You Ever--Big Smith
5. No Dancing--Elvis Costello
6. Flow Mississippi Flow--Chris Thomas King
7. Rehab--Amy Winehouse
8. My Favorite Underwear--Liz Phair
9. Obviously Five Believers--Bob Dylan
10. One Up One Down--John Coltrane
Whatcha listening to?