When it comes to topics of race, I consider myself a moderate.
I am a Black Woman, married to a Black Man, with a Black Daughter and two Black Sons.
My friendship circle is as diverse as… well, probably more diverse than America itself.
For my inner circle of friends, we can discuss and ask questions about race and it’s no big deal. I have as many questions about being White and Latina as they do about being Black. With my good friends, it’s a given that we will always have respectful conversations.
I say moderate because, I don’t think that all White people are racist, in fact I think MOST are NOT. But I’m not naïve enough to believe that “people don’t see color and racism no longer exists”. I do think a lot of people, of all races have prejudices against other races and cultures, Black people included. And honestly, Black people especially. But that’s another topic for another day.
I’m not easily offended when it comes to race relations, but I’m also not going to NOT talk about it, in order to keep everyone around me comfortable.
This country’s history with race… it’s uncomfortable.
One of the greatest life lessons I’ve had is that, although it doesn’t feel good at the time, doing the hard stuff, the things that make you a little uncomfortable- that’s what stretches us and grows us and allows us to be better people.
So bring it. Your questions, your thoughts, your opinions, your confusion, your clarity, your truth. Bring it to the table. I’m a moderate because I don’t assume to know or understand everything about race relations. I know it’s never a good thing to assume you’re always right. I know that it’s okay to have the conversation and talk about it. We should never be sick of hearing about a topic that is so important to SO MANY humans.
Because of this openness, I hope my friends know to not assume that because you heard a sound bite from a person of color that you can run with that and jump on that bandwagon because “Look- she’s BLACK and she thinks this, too! I must be right”.
Yesterday Fox News Correspondent Stacey Dash shared her sentiments on the #oscarssowhite backlash. She said (I’m paraphrasing here) that Black people want things both ways and if we TRULY wanted integration, we should be rid of BET and Black History Month.
Her opinion! Fine, have at it.
My eyebrows started to raise when I saw quite a few of my (non-black) newsfeed fill with shares and celebrating her because she “has a point”. Let’s correct that- she has an opinion. And not even a good one, considering she has been on shows and music videos on BET herself, and has collected a paycheck from the very thing that she would prefer to destroy. But… I digress.
This “Well you all have BET and that’s RACIST” attitude is one that I see and hear quite a bit when it comes to matters of race. What you’re failing to realize, is that BET, the NAACP Image Awards and even Black History Month didn’t materialize out of the thin air. Ever hear of the expression “See a need, fill a need.”?
These things derived from a void. YOU weren’t aware of the void, because it doesn’t affect you.
If you think that the #oscarssowhite is about people simply crying racism just because, you’d be wrong.
My personal opinion is that it’s LESS about racism and MORE about inclusion.
Just like myself and so many of my friends with kids that have special needs fight for their kids to get INCLUDED- this is the same. My youngest son is about to start preschool in April. His IEP meetings so far have went great! Five years from now, if someone looked at me and said, “Reid was in an inclusive environment two years ago. You can claim it for the rest of his education. He’s been “included” and therefore this year, we’re not going to do that. Well, “Them would be fighting words“. It wouldn’t fly with me and I’m sure it wouldn’t fly for any other parent fighting for their child to just be accepted and treated like everyone else.
My point is…it’s easy to dismiss things, when you’re not affected by them.
Was I an advocate and completely focused on the progression and inclusion of children with special needs before my son was born? Ashamedly, no. But since it is now my reality, it has become one of the most important things to me. I WISH that it would have been more important to me beforehand. It would have saved me a lot of heartache and fear of the unknown.
Yes, there are horrible things going on in our world, in our country. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is a big deal. So many of my friends have been asking why it seemingly doesn’t have many people outraged. Here’s your answer: because they don’t live in Michigan. Had people been AFFECTED by it, there would be more OUTRAGE behind it. Of course, this is a generalization, but a pretty fair observation, I think.
I’ll soon be 34, and while I only now watch BET when “Being Mary Jane” and “Real Husbands of Hollywood” is airing, when I was growing up… if I wanted to hear R&B, watch TV shows that catered to my age demographic with people who actually LOOK like me….well, BET had it.
It’s the same reason CMT AND the (CMA Awards) exist.
It’s the same reason there are Christian channels on TV.
It’s the same reason why there are channels for the LGBT community.
And YES, the same reason why there are Hispanic and Latin channels on TV.
But, funny enough… I haven’t heard of anyone saying that these channels shouldn’t be available.
Channels like BET and those mentioned above started solely to fill a void that was in mainstream television. Now that they DO exist, and Viacom (the owner of BET that is NOT Black owned, by the way) sees the money machine behind the urban culture, the majority (read:Viacom) are capitalizing from it. They aren’t going to get rid of something that makes them money.
Maybe you’d feel better about it, if the name were changed?
What shall we call it? Because BET isn’t the only channel that has a largely African American viewership. You just aren’t aware of them, because the word “Black” isn’t in the title. Trust me- they exist.
Black History IS American History. Yet, it was largely left out of history books before Black History Month was made official by President Gerald R. Ford only 40 years ago. This country has a way of wanting to push aside and sometimes even re-write history. Although I am responsible for my children knowing their heritage, I truly believe that if we did NOT have a Black History Month, one of the most shameful parts of this nation’s history would be completely erased from history books, or at the very least whitewashed. Pardon the pun. I mean, look at Columbus Day. We celebrate him for discovering a land where Native Americans were already established. And we never mention the atrocities and horrific things that he, his cronies and the pilgrims did to this country’s Native people. We go to these cute little children’s programs about Pilgrims and Indians and our children think that they were BFF’s.
Slavery in the United States began as early as 1619 when Jamestown, VA was being settled. The Civil Rights Act was signed into law in 1964. That’s 345 YEARS of history, that’s covered in 28 days. Actually less than 345 years because the topic of slavery for most White people is more than they care to discuss, so it focuses on Civil Rights. It began as a “National Negro History Week” by historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans to celebrate the achievements of people of African descent, before being made into a nationally recognized month. African Americans were already CELEBRATING the week. We never demanded a month. In fact, many Mayors, teachers, campuses and schools joined in that week celebration on their own accord. Today, MANY countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom celebrate Black History Month. It’s not just an American thing.
I seriously think the bigger question here is…. why does it bother you so much that there is a Black History Month? How does knowledge about anyone else’s culture HURT you? I’m sure it’s an uncomfortable topic…but again, being uncomfortable, and choosing to stand in it, take it and learn from it….
It makes YOU a better person.
Also, are you just as upset about Cinco De Mayo, Columbus Day, President’s Day (I’m sure you already think that MLK Day shouldn’t be celebrated). Or is it JUST Black History Month?
I personally love a great margarita and any day that says they can flow freely is cool with me. Not to mention, I have a lot of Mexican girlfriends and I am just as excited and proud about their victory over the French that day, as well as their independence and their history and culture, as I am my own.
This is what I know… I know that it is HARD to understand and sympathize with something that doesn’t directly affect you. It’s also easy to dismiss it, when you don’t feel you are a part of what’s wrong.
If you have never experienced racism, then it might be hard to believe that it still exists at the level that it does.
If you’re used to walking into a room and MOST of who is in the room is just like you (on the outside), it’s hard to imagine how not seeing more people that look like you, can ACTUALLY affect you.
If you’re used to television and movies being filled with casts that look just like you, it’s easy to overlook the fact that not everyone has that opportunity.
I know you’re thinking- “We’ve come so far! There’s no reason to have this discussion.”
But it’s easy to think we’ve come so far, when you’re not affected by the fact that we haven’t come as far as you think.
So, instead of dismissing the other side of the argument, because you aren’t affected… I challenge you to ask questions instead. If you don’t have a friend that is a minority that you feel comfortable asking, you can ALWAYS ask me, respectfully. You will always get a respectful answer back. It may be an uncomfortable conversation, but we BOTH might just walk away having learned a little bit more about what we don’t know about.
That’s ALWAYS a good thing.