Beauty AND Slavery found in the Eyes of the Beholder?

So the debate about the statements made by Bryant Gumbel (concerning David Stern) are racist or aren’t they? Is that the question that should be asked?

The fact is is that a large number of the Black population here in America has some connection to slavery, direct or indirect. In a lot of situations, just having the skin color of “black” gives way to a perception that someone, somewhere, in your family was probably a slave and you are therefore an “outsider,” whether it’s true or not is invalid in most arguments…

Does the fact that because Black people have been the victims of racism for such a long time give them credibility AND the authority to say who is or isn’t a racist…or at least on the slant of racism? The fact that, even with this burden on their back, they still have to argue and debate about their feelings and knowledge to what THEY feel a racist is must give reason to pause and ponder. When can they speak from their own understanding and be taken seriously? Again, this goes back to my previous blogs on Standpoint Theory and such that questions how can men be the accepted REAL authority on sexual harassment against women? It is the case of the marginalized identity not being acknowledged or having authority over the core. Is that why Anita Hill went through her own hell? Because SHE- her marginalized position, not as the victim but as a woman, wasn’t taken seriously? Just like blacks, not as victims, but as blacks-a racially marginalized group- are not taken seriously, discounting their assertions and circumventing arguments emerge from people who may, MAY not understand because of THEIR location?

Even if there is no connection to slavery, if one is Black, more than likely, they have had experiences of racism as the target-which again leads to Standpoint Theory-let alone the need to address the epistemology and existentialism of the situation…this credibility on face value, at the minimum, allows one to speak from their experience and place of power or omission of power. Because of their psychological, sociological, political, even physical positions their Knowledge of slavery and what slavery is on a number of levels irregardless of the decade is so indisputable, shouldn’t we take a step back when their assertion is debated and questioned? But, then again, where would the discussion be if the discussion of slavery merely existed among the black race without inclusion of the white race? Didn’t some whites understand slavery to the point of deciding whether to fight for it or against it, die for it, live for it, hide slaves, expose slaves? Even today, there are white people who expose injustices and discrimination and inequality against blacks, so no one can simply say white people don’t understand. Of course, there is the argument that some white people and I would argue, even some blacks, find power in being racists. I can’t even begin to bring in the arguments made by some blacks that racism doesn’t exist and they can’t stand “niggers” and will only marry a white person. Not here, not now. But, it does exist.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the point of the matter is, in the process, one must admit, that forms of slavery exists in ALL areas of life. From a Critical Cultural Theorists point of view or simply the eyes of the beholder one could argue that; slavery exists each time you go to work to make money to pay for your LITTLE house and the boss’ BIG house. Slavery exists each time a parent refuses to move from the couch to get a glass of Kool-Aid and instead asks the child to do it. Slavery can exist each time someone feels forced to make love with their significant other as some type of duty. Slavery constructs exists in all forms of organizational sports…the NBA, WNBA, NFL, even in college…..Slavery can exist when one grown man tells another grown man how to dress, especially if the Teller is white and the tellee is black. It’s slavery when a white, poor person works for the MAN who is also white and can’t move above the poverty line because of structural and organizational restraints designed by the system….it’s slavery when the white man works to afford his little car and so that THE MAN who happens to be black can afford his BIG car…it goes on and one and on. Some of it absurd? Perhaps. Some of it real, most definitely because it is all about perception and the philosophical argument and theory of Justified True Belief. Because of Justified True Belief, one can argue that forms of slavery exists everywhere….no matter the race or gender.

So, now what? How about these questions?

Should we just be silent for a moment and listen and learn from one another-even giving way to the fact that some people may have “inside” knowledge that others don’t?

Should we accept the fact that sometimes we are just not going to agree?

Should the marginalized voices be heard-even if they are black MEN?

Should there be more voices at the table?

Is there such a thing as “moving on” when remnants of racism still exists today?

How does one move on?

Isn’t the white person tired of dealing with racism?

Isn’t the black person tired of dealing with racism?

When does it end? When the concept and construct of race doesn’t exist any more? When is that?

Would it be easier to just admit the terrible truth so that there can be an acceptance and then movement?

I guess my central question would be, is the discussion helpful? I would say, yes. As painful as it is, even leading to defensive anger, it is important to be honest on BOTH sides so that there can be a mutual respect even without agreement on arguments. It is a discussion that no one really wants to have but the zebra colored elephant is really hard to ignore…smile…so let’s continue to talk to one another, love one another, and be peaceful when parting ways.

Final thought, not every white person is a racist, they just have the burden of carrying around the scars of slavery just like black people. Ironically, it is one of the ideals that makes black and whites actually equal. Weird huh?

I know it’s not this simple, but I wanted to throw some different elements into the pot during this sip of knowledge. Enjoy your day.

Published in: on October 20, 2011 at 9:56 PM  Leave a Comment  
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