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Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Ugliest Fraternal Twins
in the World: Racism and Sexism

In early 2015, a Belgium Newspaper that passes itself off as "progressive"  did a story where they attached an image of Michelle and Barack Obama that had been altered to look like two apes. 

The newspaper, Charlie Hebdo style, tried to pass it off, as satire.


But this isn't about that. This is about how racism and sexism travel along the very same corridors and stop to execute the same behaviors along the way.

Within the Belgium story --only the latest pile of disrespect heaved at President Barack Obama and The First Lady-- the African author tells another, smaller story about a television show he was watching while in Belgium. And it illustrates just how acceptable the crudest forms of overt racism are there. (I won't be visiting.)

On this game show  the author was watching, there was a question:

What is "the technical term for a child of mixed parentage. The phrasing was a lot more offensive than I have suggested (Obama is the son of a N**** from Kenya and a white mother, etcetera). The answer was 'Mulatto.' I expected someone in the audience to stand up and call the quiz master to order. No one did. The show went on as normal

The show went on as normal?

The show went on as normal.

People who are blissfully unaware of the micro-variety of the above illustrated MACRO-aggression in the United States, don't seem to realize is that this is the kind of moment that tends to let us know that we are surrounded by people are deeply steeped in racism.

The level of racism that seems likely present was not reflected in the words of the solitary game show host or the words of one or two contestants.  It's the reaction of the audience that tells you where normal lives.
It isn't about one T.V. show on during one hour one day in Belgium. The n-word being used interchangably for black person plus "the show went on as normal" sans any reaction at all from the audience tells you a lot about how widespread over racism is in that country.

By the same token, Chris Brown, Ray Rice and Bill Cosby may not be representative of black men in particular or black people in general --as many have pointed out.  But the collective reaction, or lack thereof, toward Chris Brown, Ray Rice, and Jello Pudding Man is representative of sexism and general devaluation of black women within the black community.

It's the reaction of the audience, live and in person or at home watching television, that tell you what the attitudes are. Furthermore, there has been much written and discussed on these three men. And there has been a huge percentage of our African American population, much more than half that, tried to make sure that:

- the show will go on as normal for Chris Brown

- the show will go on as normal for Ray Rice

- the show will go on as normal for Bill Cosby

...all while acting  as if the financial success of these three individuals uplifts the entire black race in some way.

The thing that wounded me most was realizing that the video didn't impact Ray Rice defenders anymore than video impacted Daniel Pantaleo defenders (the man who choked Eric Garner to death).

Do not think that my heart hasn't slowly and gradually shattered over the taint that Bill Cosby's sexism (prerequisite for rape), classism, and respectability politics has left on Dr. Huxtable too. And by the way that pain is quite a bit more sharp than the pain caused by Mel Gibson ruining the "Lethal Weapon" series for me with his racism.

Danny Glover, Mel Gibson's co-star, played one of the first black characters in an interracially cast movie where he wasn't the chocolate dipped white guy or present as a stereotype, token, or joke. Mel Gibson completely ruined the "Lethal Weapon" series for me....and Danny Glover as a Black History Moment At The Movies.

But I got over it.  Mostly. It was relatively easy.  Nobody, except one or two of the megarich New Blacks, tried to defend Mel's racist tirades. So it was easy to just be sad and move on. 

But people did tried to defend Bill Cosby. Black folk worked harder to defend Bill Cosby than they did to defend Clarence Thomas from Anita Hill Back in the day. New Blacks, Old Blacks, and Slightly Used Blacks defended Bill Cosby from close to three dozen accusations of rape --at the expense of my sisters, be they black, white, mixed race, Latino, Asian, or another ethnicity.  

And let me be frank. It is especially galling to hear those wailing about racism ignore black women who say they've been attacked by Bill Cosby. 

I'm not Charlie Hebdo.

And I'm not
Phylicia either.

The accusers? They ain't ALL lying. As much as I love Dr. Huxtable, they can't be. And those that think more than 2 dozen women are lying should consider how crazy they sound.
  A conspiracy that reaches across decades and thousands of miles just won't hunt.

And in my opinion? Cosby is not a surprise.

The superiority within Bill Cosby's respectability politics has been discussed, hashed, and rehashed in grumbles and growls between black folk for over decade and feels like two. For those who still don't see the 'I'm a black person but I'm not THAT KIND of black person' in his rhetoric? You're just too afraid to let the pain come. Move on to the next article. Come back when you're feeling a little stronger. Then read on.

The brave should consider this: If you see a glaring superiority in one aspect of a person's life, that usually means there's a cluster of superiorities that the person is trying, with varying degrees of success, to hide.

In my mind, drug-em and rape-em is just the latest evidence of that core of superiority because I'm pretty sure that you have to consider yourself vastly superior to any person you might rape.  Isn't that how rape works between two men in every prison movie you've ever seen? The alpha dog rapes the smaller weaker man.

And reading between the lines of stories written by female rape survivors, I see the same thing. Rape happens between someone who considers himself superior taking advantage of someone who he considers weaker and less than. That's probably an expression of sexism in and of itself.

When the audience, otherwise known as the public at large, doesn't even notice that they live in a world where the rape victims can't speak for fear of being blamed, that almost has to be a sign that the sexism is rampant.

When black people can't speak up about racism, we know the racism is rampant. Why don't we know the same thing about sexism?  

The original article: