I have a choice between excoriating the above foolishness and keeping my promise to hit the gym today. I'm hitting the gym. But know that while I'm shoving around heavy objects and pounding the treadmill I will be asking questions like:
Has the NYT run out of money, started stealing stories from The Onion?
Why did they chose to cut the paragraph where they talk about Obama signing the Emancipation Proclamation, arguing the Brown v. Board of Education case and leading the March on Washington (before he created Gray's Anatomy) ?
Where do they find black folk this delicate? Or whites this earnest?
Are there really people who subscribe to these sentimentalized white liberal versions of race -- as if the problem is just that we "misunderstand" each other?
Forgive the sarcasm.
There's a strand of self-congratulation to this whole look-how-far-we've come theme that has taken root since November 4th and the Times piece is reflective of it. Let's be clear, electing a black president is a huge accomplishment but black people have been voting for white people for as long as we've been voting. We've more or less been trying to be postracial since 1619 -- it's only now that whites are catching up.
The Times has a way of showing its seams, running articles with their upper-income white suburban slant showing. That was the problem with that How Race Is Lived series they ran in 1996. The fact that the main concern was the daily interactions and presumptions as opposed to the ways in which it remains inscribed in social policy, economics and law (enforcement.)
In my experience very few black folk see race primarily in terms of its emotional awkwardness but a whole lot of whites do, which is why you get silly commentary like:
Even Mr. Rice’s wife, Becca Knox, 43, who is white, said that despite being married to a black man for six years, finding a comfortable way to talk about race with people of other races, particularly African-Americans, that is sensitive but not self-conscious, candid but not offensive, is still “a constant, constant struggle and process.”
But over the last few months, both Mr. Rice and Ms. Knox, who live in Washington, have been struck by the slight easing of these examples of what psychologists describe as “interracial anxiety” between blacks and whites. That is because there is a now an omnipresent icebreaker:
And this gem which, admittedly made me wonder if this dude was imported from a lost episode of The Jeffersons:
“Before Obama, there was always this thing — ‘He’s a black doctor,’ ” Mr. Jackson said. “But now I’m going to be a physician who also happens to be black. That’s become the perception now, which is really nice.”
Seriously, are people still saying that happens-to-be-black line? When does it become possible for people to happen-to-be-white or anything else? In a country where race still correlates to income, education and most importantly, life expectancy, there's something violent about reducing it to a coincidental adjective.
If race were truly about two dissimilar but bound tribes groping for common understanding maybe I wouldn't be so bothered by this. But I'm a historian and I know that overwhelmingly it has been about power -- who gets it and who gets abused by it. Everything else is just burnt cork.
Damn... late for the gym.