Saturday, January 14, 2006

Old Stuff in the New Year

So somebody has been vandalizing cars in the driveway of an African-American family across the bay from where I live for four months now. Eggs thrown, sugar in the gas tank, paint thrown, and now--as if the message had somehow been missed--spray-painting "KKK" and "nigger" down the side of a late model car in front of the home of the only Black family in this "upscale" neighborhood. And the next door neighbor still says she "can't imagine someone doing this." Really.

The television newscaster called it the "N-word." We're SO sensitive about not saying the term out loud (me included). But the behavior still continues and some European-Americans can't imagine why. I've finally started asking myself and other people--especially "White" people--why maintain a pretense of respect by not saying the word if we're not going to adequately attack the underlying values that produce such behavior as writing the word on a car? Just because European-Americans don't all vandalize cars doesn't mean that institutionalized racism hasn't remained an inherent part of our socialization from the past right into the present.

African-Americans (and other people of color, as a matter of fact) don't need their cars spray-painted with ugly words to experience the manifestations of White-held power and White privilege and White disrespect in their daily lives. Ask them. And then believe what they tell you for a change. Until we change our world view in the United States and the value system based on it, delicately using language isn't going to fix anything. How about getting real for a hot minute?

Can we say the O-word? (You know: "Oppression".)

5 comments:

Ms. SADE said...

Professor Hensley I think you did an awesome job of getting your point across. As a woman of color I am not at all offended byt his. I am actually empowered. It is awesome to know that you placed yourself in the position to be real about the word nigger. If people would stop disguising it behind the notion of the "N" word then maybe our socity could move past the oppression of the word nigger. You are awesome!

-Rasheite Radcliff AKA Ms. SADE

Changeseeker said...

Wow. What can I say?

*grins sheepishly*

Thanks, Rasheite.

Severitus said...

You have an excellent discussion. I like how grounded your remarks and views are. Progress is something we work at and I see you are literally driving progress forwards. Keep up the good work. Kudos on a fine blog.

JJMartin

James said...

You have excellent discussions. Your remarks are thoughtful and cogent. Progress is a culmulative effort and you are making a wonderful contribution to this end. This is a very good blog. Keep up the good work.

JJMartin

Changeseeker said...

I appreciate the kind words, James/Severitus. I'm just doing my part.