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Response to Racism at White House Correspondent’s Dinner

Have you read the blog post by Dr. Seema Jilani, who got dissed at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner? Check it out here. Did you see Obama’s address at the dinner? Watch it here. Funny! Especially when he did the bit about “being” Daniel Day-Lewis. Rock (Obama) cracks me up. Natural comedian.

Ok anyhoo, I read the blog that Dr. Jilani wrote. It’s basically about being confronted with some Grade A jerks. The jerks wouldn’t let her into the foyer of the ballroom where the dinner was being held so that she could get her car keys from her hubby. By the way, how much more successful could this couple be? She’s a physician (“who trained at a prestigious institution”); he’s a journalist (who was invited to the freaking White House Correspondent’s Dinner); and they probably have (or will have) little genius children who have vocabularies as big as their mother. Good Lord that lady used every possible combination of adjectives that might mean extremist didn’t she? I mean, what the heck is bigoted jingoism? You better use your words, Dr. Jilani!

So she attributes both jerks’ behavior to racism, basically. I get it. I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve seen it in every whicha way. I would like to extend a little advice to my girl though. When faced with that sort of behavior, there is a natural inclination to get angry. Anger is ok. There is also a tendency for a person, much like Dr. Jilani, to become insulted to the point of injury. I think Dr. Jilani’s feelings were hurt. No, not hurt. Crushed. Crumbled. Beaten. Molly whopped. She cried. Again, I get it. I remember crying in a club in Johannesburg, South Africa after arguing with the bouncer about the need for democracy in their nation . . . but that’s a story for another day. Encounters such as those have taught me that I cannot give the jerks of the world such great power over my emotions. Jerks don’t deserve my tears!

There is absolutely nothing like finding yourself entangled in some sort of an exchange that is overtly racist, but it’s nothing compared to the clandestine racism that seeps up out of the mouths or actions of covert bigots. Who are you hiding from, you little secret supremacist? Go crawl in a whole somewhere – preferably one that was dug in 1887. Sucka!

I refuse to let racism or bigotry of any kind make me feel low or drive me to tears again. It might drive me to write a blog post. I’m glad it drove MLK to lead a movement. I’m glad it drove a nation to follow him. I’m cool with it driving Malcolm X to also lead a (more gun friendly) movement. I’m even down with it exciting the Black Panther Party (though I’m sure it would’ve been a bit too militant for me. I’m definitely one of those “peacefully sit at a counter while being sprayed with a water hose” type of people) This new undercover racism is something different though. I mean some people know they’re racist. That’s cool. Whatever. Other people don’t realize it because it’s so deeply engrained in our society. White privilege. It’s really an entirely different thing from racism (in my opinion), but it is what it is. I mean right now it is. There are certainly forces working to change the status quo and thank God for them because it’s a serious fight.

I’m not sure what those jerks at the White House Correspondence Dinner thought of themselves. And really, whether they’re racist or not, what would it have hurt for them to walk Dr. Jilani into the ballroom to get her keys from her husband? That’s just mean! Burr!

Dr. Jilani, my dear, don’t shed one more tear over these men or any other people like them. Don’t be hurt. Not in the way you were hurt. Don’t be molly whopped in these DC streets! Do keep blogging because your words are something serious. Continue to see patients who don’t want to be treated by you because you force them to get with the program. Get with the freaking program, people! It’s 2013, boo! We’re all humans. Nobody is asking you to like everyone or be friendly or smile or offer baked goods (homemade cookies are good though, huh?) or have a Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie rainbow family. Dr. Jilani and I only ask that you “’step up to the plate, take responsibility, and stop taking what I have earned,’ my integrity, my dignity.”

I’m not quite ready to go so far as Dr. Jilani and say that I’ll stop enlightening ignorant people. Even though it’s annoying and uncomfortable, I will call out bigotry every time I spot it – politely of course (I am a southern belle after all). I have decided that it’s my duty as a woman who is black and from the south. I owe it to my ancestors and my children.

What I know for sure, and what I want Dr. Jilani to know as well, is that we have no control over another’s behavior or his/her attitude. Even if I were to point out every offense I spotted and verbalized it to the perpetrator as eloquently as Dr. Jilani has been able to do in her blog, I have to learn to accept the other’s views. I don’t have to accept certain behavior, let’s be clear. I do have to accept opinions though. I have decided, and maybe Dr. Jilani can make the same decision, not to allow those views to upset me to the point of hurt. I have also decided that when views/opinions/attitudes morph into offensive behavior toward me, I will, to the best of my ability, shrug it off as the futile attempt of a Grade A jerk to keep an outdated tradition going. You don’t phase me, son! (in my Bronx accent . . . that I don’t have) I know who I am and what I’m worthy of. Anyone else who is confused about this can suck it. I shall continue to have a wonderful day in the mean time. Thanks.

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I'm Mariah. Jesus is my homie. I live in (and was raised in) the south. I am, as often as possible, actively grateful for my family because I understand their life giving power. Really dislike melodramatics. Really love reading and writing so much so that I aspire to be an author. What else?

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