Black solidarity is something that really irritates some people. We still hear angry White people mutter about OJ, citing videos of Blacks jubilant at the not-guilty verdict, much as Neocons remind us of videos of Arabs dancing in the street at the news of the 9/11 attack. Farakhan and Sharpton, along with the ubiquitous Jesse Jackson come in for sharp remarks, aimed not so much at them but at the people who look to them for leadership.
I have something to say about this. Where the hell are you when the s*** hits the fan? OJ behaved like a dolt when he became famous, turning his back on Black people. But when he was on trial, a Black man accused of killing a White woman, some sort of old movie reel jittered to life and began replaying in the minds of Black folk. They took him in as one of theirs in the face of a hostile world.
When I hear people to this day comment on how Blacks didn’t think OJ was guilty, I laugh, thinking back to our trip to San Jose and the big family my brother-in-law married into. It was at the height of the trial and we were greeted with a big sign, “HE DID IT”. You’d close the bathroom door and on the back would be a sign, He did it. And this family had not one member that accomodated the least bit to Whites. Several members of the family were blonde and White as could be, but if you made the mistake of thinking they were White, you’d get a burst of Black ’set-you-straight’ talk. They just knew OJ killed his wife and Goldman. But, like all Black people, esp from Louisiana and East Texas, they knew what this was all about – Black man kills Blonde White Woman.
Remember the joke going around when the girl disappeared in Aruba, that we should have a WWW network – Where are the White Women? Some pundits pointed out that there were 2 cases very similar to the Holloway girl’s but getting no attention b/c the girls were Black.
It is my impression that when Whites talk about a Black person “hating White people” (my second grader grandson had a kid tell him that Barack Obama hates White people – that from his mother), this is what they are talking about, Black people pointing out these clear examples of differential treatment based on race.
My wife experienced this almost daily working in schools staffed by Whites for over 30 years. But I’ll give you an example of how teachers can be with other despised groups (and that is the proper term – despised). A lady whose mother was Spanish and father Scottish was raised in France. She spoke no Spanish but French and British English were her native languages.
She got a job in a bilingual ed program here in AZ where the other aides were Mexican-American. This lady doesn’t look anything but White, but she found that none of the teachers would talk to her. This went on for months, passed in the hallway, ignored in the cafeteria and teachers’ lounge……. until, one day a companion in the program walked into the lounge and addressed her. She said the heads just snapped up dangerously upon hearing her English accent. They hurried over to her and wanted to know all about her – the main fact, of course, being that she wasn’t Mexican.
I know, I know. Those nice White teachers didn’t mean anything racial, they just were shy (I hear that a lot). Nevertheless, that is the experience of most racial minorities depending on the environment, the times, and their own manner and appearance (being White didn’t help this lady, though; it was her association with all the other Hispanic aides that lumped her in with “Mesicans”)
There is a type of Black person who does not nod to other Blacks he sees in public. Oh boy. My wife will nod to you. That is just a reality of the Black community. The nod means, quite simply, I’ve got your back. We can only hope the need for this passes, but that time isn’t here.
The words “post-racial” are a joke. When Michael Jackson died, look at the older Black entertainers who showed up. Some of them experienced playing in hotel venues where they couldn’t get a room or swim in the pool. Michael may have tried to become White or not – I’m not sure anyone knows – but he gave millions to Black charities. He may have had White children, but Black women have been having White men’s children for centuries, without acknowledgement – really a big joke on Whites. So who spoke at the funeral? Al Sharpton, the man White people love to hate.
If Reverend Al and Jesse Jackson and even Farakhan hadn’t been there, my guess is that my marriage would still be illegal, my kids would have gone to segregated schools, and my grandkids would be faced with the choice of whether to “pass” or not – and hide their grandmother when friends came to visit. (this is not made up – one of the members of the Creole family I mentioned above was not allowed to speak to her aunt in Louisiana when they passed on the street. The aunt was passing and so could not be acknowledged by her Black relatives in public, even though she attended family gatherings. I can hear people say, “Well, that was her choice…..” Yes, it was, if she wanted a job, to get decent medical treatment, to see her children get a decent chance in life and other minor things like that. So many Whites will just not take respnsibility for what they did and it took the Sharptons and the Jacksons and the Kings to shove this is White people’s face and shame them into acting like decent human beings). If Reverend Al and Jesse Jackson and even Farakhan hadn’t been there, Michael may not have been there and Motown would have remained another “race label”.
Let’s not let Black people off the hook here. Many of them pushed their own people aside in order to gain favor with Whites, abandoning their culture and their people. In many cases this was nothing disgraceful, they were just trying to break out of the cycle of ignorance and poverty they grew up with. But for the most part, Blacks have done their best to support each other, largely through the church. Despite in-fighting and back-stabbing and all the other weaknesses humans are prey to, when Black people came together to say farewell to Michael, it was with a sense of how he had helped bridge the cultural and racial gap in this country and opened up the world to Black culture in its finest form. He incurred enmity and envy and little understanding, but he pressed on with his art, the one path Blacks have always used to bridge the gap and he did it the best.