Monday, November 27, 2006

colors, colors, colors, colors

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Lil Wyte f/ DJ Paul - Icey White Soljas

Let's all welcome Dan Charnas back to the blogosphere. His response to the Michael Richards situation is on point. I like his discussion of Seinfeld's monochrome culture, an idea which sums up many thoughts I've been trying to put together for a while now. It's the latest incarnation of the great American race problem, the next step beyond people that make "I'm not racist, but..." statements. About on par with indie rock heads who want to make it a point that they listen to Hell Hath No any rap at all. (Just kiddin 2000!!!)

But I don't entirely agree with this:

I’m sure that Michael Richards doesn’t believe he is a racist. I’m sure, on an intellectual level, believes in equal rights for all. But we never find the truth until we get cornered. When Black folks are pushing his buttons, Richards’ response, apparently, is to tell Black people they have no right to push his buttons because they’re Black. That is the very definition of deep-seated, latent racism. Sorry.

I told Milo that "racism" seems too blunt a descriptor for what's going on. It's not like Richards's outburst betrayed a secret Klan affiliation or bank transfers to the National Front. This is the unpleasant realization that, despite whatever his rational mind may support in terms of equal rights for all people, black people still apparently make him uncomfortable. It doesn't seem fair to apply the same word to the dude that one would use for Mark Fuhrman. After all, it's not necessarily the fault of any person feeling this way that they aren't steeped in black culture; going out and explicitly trying to do so has its own set of racial issues. Though it's not easy to convince true racists that they're wrong to, say, support segregation, it's pretty fucking straightforward to make the case for equality. Cultural understanding, on the other hand, is more problematic.