Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Racism & Smoking Guns


Catherine Donnelly, recently recounted how she and her mother were horrified that she was placed in a room with a black woman, in her first day as a freshman in Princeton University. In the article she explains that her mom ran to the school office demanding her daughter be moved out of the room with that black girl because they "weren’t used to living with black people." That black girl was Michelle Obama (then Michelle Robinson). The article goes on to say that a friendship never developed [surprise] in spite of how funny and smart she thought Michelle was, and that after the room (that her mom requested) became available she left and the two never had a meaningful conversation again. Why is this important you ask?

I think the revelations in this article are important because Michelle Obama has been painted as some kind of anti-American, Black revolutionary because of her thesis and some other remarks that she’s made. The notion that her experiences with racism may have shaped her perception of America as something less than glowing, hasn’t seemed to enter into the popular dialogue at all. I believe that is so because many white people do not think racism exists in this country. I have come to find that many (thought not all) whites seem to need a smoking gun when it comes to accepting claims of racism (this phenomena is decades old it is called white denial). It seems that absent proof that someone used the N-word or committed some other overt act of personal bigotry, many whites have a hard time believing that racism still exists.

Well, here it is folks, Michelle Obama’s first college roommate came from a long line of racists, and Catherine Donnelly admits that her mom and grandmother filled her head with “with racist stereotypes, portraying African-Americans as prone to crime, uneducated and, at times, people to be feared” Here is the smoking gun.

I was excited when I read the article because rare is it that a person comes forward and admits so candidly their family history of racism and bigotry. I really appreciated their honesty and respected their courage.; and wish them well on their desire to evolve into better human beings. But more importantly, I hoped that the media discussion of this would prove that Michelle Obama's views on racism in this country were vindicated, that is, I hoped the confessions of a racist bigot, might serve to put the black perspective on race, into a context that made sense. After all, isn't perfectly reasonable to feel anger, resentment, and frustration when you've been mistreated solely because of the color of your skin? Well that media discussion hasn't happened, and many of my friends think I'm crazy for expecting it to. Maybe I am crazy?

Maybe not. Catherine Donnelly’s mother has already said this with regards to Rev. Wrights remarks:

"If I had been treated the same way blacks have been treated," she says, "I'd be resentful, too."

I’d say that most conscious black folks aren’t the super patriotic, god bless America types, because it simply doesn’t jibe with our experiences in a society that is often racist, and always in denial of it. I was hoping to see this unfold in the national media, because with material like this, we could well be on our way to a real dialogue about racism in this country. However, thus far, I get the feeling that this story is going to be blacked out. Pun intended. Instead, like Catherine Donnelly as a freshman, America will have missed out on yet another great oppurtunity to begin moving foward.

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6 Comments:
Anonymous Anonymous said...
sad, but true!

Anonymous ShoNufDed said...
kai:
...with material like this, we could well be on our way to a real dialogue about racism in this country.

How do you tell a witch she has warts on her nose without offending her?

She'll either deny the warts, or curse you by running video clips of you calling her "wart nose" so that all the other witches with warts can see your anti-wartness.

Can you imagine all the incantations you'll have to fend off?

Americans don't want to see their warts on the cover of Vogue.

They're like men and women with anorexia in reverse: when they look in the mirror they don't see warts--they see the airbrushed perfection they've been educated to believe.

Blogger Joey said...
This is a great post. Well done, Kai.

Blogger Lola Gets said...
I came over here from the Field Negros spot, and I like! Ill be back!

L

Blogger Kai said...
ShoNufDed, great witch analogy.

Joey and Lola thanks.

I wish I hadn't been correct about this story being blacked out, but so far it's true. Maybe after Obama secures the democratic nomination and the right presses the refresh button on Michelle Obama's radical anti-americanism, some brave reporter will use the Brian Feagan article as a rebuttal.

Anonymous Terry said...
Very nice post.


Thank you.

Terry

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