Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Race is far less important to me than it seems to be to some of the fellas I roll with. We're quite a diverse lot, us, with a goodly representation from every habitable continent -- I'll stand in for Australia. This fact is never a problem, although it is sometimes an issue. "Team Black", don't you know -- although that abortion seems to have gone back-alley, at least for the time being. More a function of absence of opportunity than of conscience or sensibility, but we take what we can get. Point being, I expect race would be less important to me than to most others.

It's not that I'm part of the majority. In Los Angeles, I'm a minority. European roots. But I've always been a minority. I was a minority in my own birth-family. Like the Huxtable kids, on Cosby -- they were all different colors. You wouldn't understand, but I was the blond kid in my family. The towhead -- a term I absolutely loathed. White-blond. That's a good thing, right? You'd think. But there was a lot of hatred in my family, and I was the little one. So there you go. Differences are for hating, where I come from. It's something you have to grow out of.

Now my hair has darkened. Sometime in my twenties. Ash blond. Bitches and fags would say dirty blond, or dishwater. Faggots. I still think of myself as the white-haired kid, but that's phantom limb stuff. Isn't it odd though, that being God's favored fair child would work so powerfully to sensitize me to the need for empathy? Sometimes irony is a difficult idea. Not here.

Which brings me to Oprama. Obama, I mean. Heh heh. He's black. Or is it white? It's that touch of the tarbrush thing, going on. How very strange that the white racist standard has been adopted by virtually every black. And by black, I mean tarbrush black -- anyone who has any drop of African blood. How strange. Were the racists right? Are they?

Obama is being credited with self-selecting his identity. He sides with his father, African, rather than his mother, European. Let's not be stupid, here. Let's not argue about opinions. I know a fella who has precisely the same ethnic makeup as Obama. Exotic looking. He identifies as black. I didn't know where he hailed from, for months and months. But propinquity has made me think about a few things.

This is what I think. I think that if anyone of "mixed" blood -- pardon the idiocy of the terms available to me, but I know of no sensible ones -- were to identify as white, he'd be scorned by both sides. Trying to pass. Not authentic. A wanna be. Acting white. He has just as legitimate a claim to one as to the other. But racist social pressure selects for him. Sort of like high-performing black students in school. Acting white. Well? For shame.

It isn't my place to tell Obama that he's not black. Black is a culture, like Hispanic, not a genetic profile -- at least in a dual-continental situation. The fact that Obama does not seem to operate out of a black cultural paradigm, however, is irrelevant. Hillary with her bleached hair tries sometimes to sound more black than Obama does. But Hillary, of course, is not black; is it just a joke, that her husband was? In any case, Obama doesn't act black. So black is not a culture. He was raised by a white mother, black father absent -- abroad and in Hawaii, and given an elite education. How is he black?

Black is an identity. It allows, sometimes, the illusion of self-selection. Yet it is imposed. I remember broaching this subject lightly with a founder of Team Black. I questioned a few of the suppositions, and he shut it down by saying, curtly, "That's just how it is." Indeed. That is just how racism is. Not to be questioned. It must, somehow, work to somebody's good. Like self-stim movements in the insane. It comforts. It isolates and identifies. It allows for judgments and condemnations. Obama is black because he must be. Imagine what you would think, if he spoke only of his mother. The boy's trying to pass. What a confluence of shame, in the idea.

I think I've told the story of the little black boy who threw himself into the flour bin so that he would be white. My grandmother told me about him, in the '60s, as something she'd seen. I expect it's happened elsewhere. I recall, as a teacher, seeing on the playground something that will stay with me always. An elementary school. About half black, half latino. And a little black boy in a rage of tears, shouting at a little brown boy, "Nigger! You nigger!" What a sad and evil world this is.

The past lays hold of us with an unshakable grip, whether from outside the tribe or from within the smallest of social units, the family. Pain seems to be a means not only of physical, but of social control. Those who identify outside their designated group get called such sobriquets as "race-traitor." Indeed, we can divide the nations into crackers and coons, hebes and spicks, chinks and ... well, I can't think of any other group worth hating -- aboes and wogs are too obscure for my American readership, and so not hateful enough. Having so divided the world into a confusion of tongues, what is left for us but to make war? It will be all the easier, now that gene testing is becoming so easy. You can buy kits at the drugstore. And we don't even need such objective proofs. We can just hate on the strength of appearances. Just a touch of the tarbrush, and we can hate.

Hate. It's a far more powerful thing than the word's common usage suggests. I've used it lightly, here. I've used it the way a liberal uses it. Unthinkingly. I don't want to think about it anymore, though. Obama can call himself what he likes, and his people can coo and ah from the bleachers. As long as we don't think about it, it's all good. As long as it's about defused emotion, we're safe. Blacks can blame and demand welfare, "affirmative" action, and reparations, and whites -- race-identity whites like liberals and segregationists -- can enjoy the frisson of their own particular emotions.

For my part, I have no sympathy for the irresponsible culture of failure that seems to my unyielding mind to be contemporary black culture. The flaccid whites who pander and abase themselves through an Afrocentic Electra complex are incomprehensible to me. You don't need to have pride, to have common sense. After we've reached the age of accountability, there is no room anymore for blame. Societies are accountable, but there is an expiration date, and in any case, welfare has been reparations. A lot more than the cost of 40 acres and a mule have been doled out, to those who thought they should take it. Absolution? You have to be dirty, before you need to be made clean. I've always been clean.

But what do I know. I'm a guy who secretly thinks he has white-blond hair. As for Obama, he has the opportunity to reject the entitlement plantation that -- if you'll pardon the crudity -- enslaves modern American blacks. You're entitled to what you earn. You're not entitled to what I earn. Obama was raised white. His mother got up in the pre-dawn to sit at the kitchen table with Obama that she might tutor him into special advantage. That's not black or white, that's responsible. If that were his message, I'd vote for him.


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