Friday, June 5, 2009

What's black and white and red all over?

I don't normally address the vapid, pointless things MJS columnist Patrick McIlheran spews onto his blog, but today's little screed bears some tweaking.

Taking umbrage with a piece written by Leonard Pitts Jr. that deals with the problem of black scapegoating in this country, McIlheran goes into full-on sarcasm mode and answers with this gem:
...why did you – yes, you again – deny Pitts a job and then call him a thief? Read to the bottom of his column. That’s what he says you did. And you blew up his school and then called him ignorant. Why did you do that, huh? Why did you kill his father and then complain he was filled with rage?

What, you say you didn’t? You were born after Jim Crow died, after MLK was already regarded a martyr? You grew up thinking black people were just as good as anyone else because “Sesame Street” and every adult you’ve ever known has told you precisely that?

Not only did he miss the entire point of the original article, but apparently the only reason anyone, including himself, might think "black people were just as good as anyone" is because "Sesame Street and every adult you've ever known has told you" to think that. Nice.

I guess McIlheran hasn't made the acquaintance of many African Americans in his day. How else would you explain such a dreadfully ignorant statement?

But it's not entirely uncommon for people to get up in arms when the issue of racism comes up. It's an incredibly complex and highly personal subject. But I don't think Pitts was blaming all racist attacks, past and present, on every white person now living. There's a little something called artistic license going on in his column, wherein stronger language choices are made to get a point across. And the fact remains that we all--black, white, and red-faced McIlheran--still have our own demons to face. Whether that's blatant racism, or the insidious sort that leads us to lock our doors when we see a person of a certain ethnicity walking nearby, the spectre still looms.

Ultimately, this just seems to be a case of McIlheran making knee jerk assumptions based on his own discomfort with the subject. We elected a black man president! This is a post-racial society! We have no more difficult discussions to have or self-examination to do!

Only, clearly, we do.

1 comment:

illusory tenant said...

"I don't think Pitts was blaming all racist attacks, past and present, on every white person now living."

Only McIlheran, apparently.

The Lost Albatross