We live in such an interesting society. At once I feel we have come so far with acceptance and at the same time I feel we sink so low. Recently, there have been some shocking news stories which felt as if they just kept coming and coming day after day. I am sensitive to these issues, as a mother of an African-American son, but as a human being, I just do not understand how one can foster such a lack of introspection and understanding that our words have consequences, as the following stories show to be the case.
1) Duck Dynasty: I understand and am for freedom of speech. If there were no such thing, I would not be able to write this blog right now. I do, however, feel that one should be careful with their words. I am not a fan of Duck Dynasty, in fact, I have never seen the show. I do know that one of the stars, Phil Robertson, was interviewed by GQ magazine, which lead to many people outraged. In relevance to my blog, I was most upset by this quote… “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” These words were spoken under what is known as white privilege, not freedom of speech. Also, Robertson is under a contractual obligation to A & E to represent both himself and the network in a professional manner within the confines of his agreement, which he failed to accomplish.
2) The tweet from Justine Sacco “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”. I honestly do not know what would provoke an individual to write such a tweet, let alone, think these thoughts. Again, she needed to professionally represent not only herself as a PR executive, but her company and she failed on both accounts. She was fired, and has since apologized. Again, our words have consequences and affect even those whom you have never met. Sacco’s tweet was a gross generalization that only African-Americans can be affected by AIDS. This is not only untrue, but ridiculous.
3) The town of Semmes, Alabama hired a group known as, The Prancing Elite, to perform in their annual Christmas parade. They did not do their due research on this group though and were “outraged and appalled” when a group of gay black men appeared for the parade performance. Why so outraged…do to the fact the group is gay? black? or both?
I write about these few situations most recently in the news as a reminder that we are not free from racism and insulting one another for our looks, beliefs, sexuality, etc… I think of my son as he gets older and how I, as his parent and role model, will react to stories such as the ones listed above. I can only do my best to raise an open, loving man, with an understanding and acceptance of all people.