Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Media, and Whites in General, haven't moved beyond 1981

Fire Fly has a post up about a speech given by Bernice Johnson (linked by Black Amazon, from which the final two links came, too). The stuff about the elections is paraphrases from NPR's discussion of it yesterday and this morning.

"Now if we are the same women from the same people in this barred room, we never notice it. That stuff stays wherever it is. It does not show up until somebody walks into the room who happens to be a woman but really is also somebody else." - Bernice Johnson

This happens everywhere and goes unremarked on. In the recent presidential race, the question of whether Obama was "black enough" has been openly debated in the (white, male, straight, Christian) media since mid-2007 at least, and yet people are saying THIS WEEK that Clinton's comments about Martin Luther King, Jr. suddenly "brought race" into it.


Race has been in the presidential race since the first one, when not only couldn't a black person run but black people couldn't vote. Race has been there with multiple races, since the Native Americans were killed off or pushed into Reservations (which, I will note, frequently don't give them actual control of the land) and since Asians were objectified and killed off in the name of "progress" and railroads and since Mexicans were attacked for their land and since Latin@s in general were told they were good enough to pick food for the (white) Americans but not good enough to get the protection of the government or even be treated like human beings. Gender's been there too. Overt gender, in the form of the exclusion of women and the use of race to turn some women into "good" guiding angels and others into "bad" whores and even just good old "ball and chain" language, and covert gender, in the form of using terms for females as insults against males and targetting anyone, male or female, who dares to be "too much" like the other.

It's all there, in the room, elephants stomping on people's feet while they pretend it's their shoes pinching. It doesn't get brought it by those who are different from the people in the room. It's there waiting, an unspoken rule about who is allowed and who is not.

And yes, this happens in minority populations too, but minority populations aren't dominating the media and the government, so anyone who wants to derail this into "white people have it bad too" and "sometimes straight people suffer", fuck off.

P.S. "And there are people who prioritize the cutting line of the struggle. And they say the cutting line is this issue, and more than anything we must move on this issue and that’s automatically saying that whatever’s bothering you will be put down if you bring it up. You have to watch these folks. Watch these groups that can only deal with one thing at a time." - Also Bernice Johnson. Yeah, I'm looking at you, too.

P.P.S. Anyone know if there's a link floating aorund to her giving the speech? I'll hunt YouTube tonight, but I'd love to hear it. The cadences of speeches like this are often a second speech in and of themselves.

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