This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

January 22, 2009

Rule-One

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — pprscribe @ 12:00 pm

The next few years will be exciting–but challenging. We will need to find new ways to envision our place as “Americans” in the world, as well as our place as Americans who are ________ [insert identity here] in a diverse country and world. We must learn how to joke about a Black President without wounding all who are Black. We must learn cultural referents and how to explain them.

Another thing we–specifically any we who are Black–must do is learn how to constructively critique.

For many it is a badge of honor to be seen as going against the grain, bucking the racial status quo. As if all Black people think the same way and speak the same thing and only I (or You, or He or She) can see and say things differently, without the heavy chains of Negro Groupthink.

As if.

Well, far be it for me to take away this small joy from those who might be lucky enough to experience it, or to attempt to correct when such correction would be seen as only the latest example of Negro Groupthink itself. I do, however, offer one suggestion. Allow me to go so far as to call it a “rule.”

Post-post-racial Rule #1: Point out your criticism, support the critique, and provide an alternative. Then, explain how said alternative might have been achieved, given the constraints of the target of your criticism.

Don’t like President Obama’s inaugural address? The First Lady’s choice of gown designer? That their daughters’ hair was pressed, not natural? Why? OK, now. What might the President have said differently? What other designers might Michelle Obama chosen and why? What is your favorite natural hair style for Black girls? Now the really hard part.  Consider that perhaps President Obama and others around him are not clueless, uninformed, disconnected to the wisdom of the universe that you yourself are tapped into. Why were those decisions that you think should have been made not made?

Finally, what can we learn from the gaps between the thing itself,

the thing as we would like,

and the possible reasons for the actuality of the former instead of the latter?

Now, I understand the inclination to take offense, to critcize, to wish to hold feet to fire. I also understand the inclination to protect, to defend, to make allowances for. These years will require some stretching in how we balance ourselves between the two.

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