John’s post about the resignation of a blogger who can’t see the racism in dressing up the President of the United States in drag and sitting him down with a bucket of fried chicken is enough to trip the last of my rage+sorrow circuits. We’re back in Carthage Must Be Destroyed territory with our wingnut friends — and with the party Lincoln would no longer recognize, that G.O.P which has staked its hold on power for four decades with the nod-and-a-wink racism of the “southern stategy.”
I’m sick past endurance with the casual viciousness of our opponents. Yesterday I blogged about Question Bridge, a project in which Black men get to investigate and reframe what it means to be male and African American in the U.S. today. As I wrote then, that work performs the remarkable feat of allowing everyone, Black guys and anyone else, to listen in on conversations, feelings, experiences that are not routinely available to most of us in the ordinary business of living in the world.
One of the insights to be gained in doing so comes from direct testimony about a fact we all know, but don’t necessarily nor always feel in our bones if we aren’t ourselves in the midst of it: that being Black and male and in public is to be constantly under scrutiny. Not necessarily or even mostly in the horrifying deadly circumstances that Trayvon Martin found himself in, but just in the sense that there’s attention being paid, and that the burden of representing, and not just being, is always there.
And here’s where that bucket of chicken comes in. That was no joke, not merely “southern cuisine” as the blogger put it.* And the men of Question Bridge know it:
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When I go out to eat dinner, I don’t worry about what the folks at the next table think of my order. Never occurs to me. This clip reminds me that this is my privilege, and a measure — an oblique one maybe, but still — of the work we’ve yet to do get over race in this country.
Which, by shoots and roundabouts, is another reason that the “I’m not racist in my heart” nonsense just can’t fly. I don’t care if you love your kids or even (sacrilege here, I know) are kind to dogs. If you put the kind of trash John referenced out into the world, you own it; that’s who you are.
*Funny how a Black guy from Chicago eating chicken is just enjoying in southern cuisine. The first rule of racist club is never to talk about racist club.