Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mind the Meme, Media, Myths

There is a lot to unpack from Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s wildly inappropriate rant. She ran the gamut from white skin privilege to knee-jerk bigotry to just plain rude and wrong.

At this point, I think we understand acquiring a doctorate in Physiology and a certificate in counseling does not mean a person has the sense ‘God gave a billygoat’ as my grandmother would say; at least as far as racial issues are concerned. Despite all the heat, Schlessinger shed very little light on Jade’s problem. However, within her rant were some pretty amazing ‘tells’ to which women of African-American descent must pay attention.

White skin privilege exists. If you think this country is post-racial---- well, trust me it is not. White women, be they feminists, progressive, democrats, republicans, whatever enjoy, utilize and enforce female white skin privilege. Everyday. Movies, books, television and radio shows routinely tell us who is the fairest of them all…..white women.

It is so common place as to be unconscious and make no mistake the thoughts are absolutely real. If you had any doubt, the Dr. Laura incident serves as confirmation. In the larger society, black women are not seen as the equal of white women. Bw are generally not thought of as equally attractive, intelligent, feminine, loving, supportive, maternal, responsible, moral….. I could go on.

Please do not think I am saying this is true! I am merely saying this is the thought pattern, the meme, if you will, with regard to black women. Might the above be true about an individual black woman? Yes. Is it true about most black women? I hope not. Is it true about all black women? Absolutely not!!

The banality of Schlessinger’s intolerance is stunning, yet she has remained on the air for years. The use of the n-word is not the only issue at hand! We must, more importantly, focus on how bw were portrayed by the radio host amidst this tumult: hypersensitive, nitpicking, unappreciative, presumptuous, and uppity. How dare this bw complain about the behavior of her white husband’s friends and family?!?! He did marry her after all!!!

To justify this display of white skin privilege, the host went there. Twice! Not only did she basically say, ‘One of my best friends is black’….the security guy she employs!!! She also decided to defend herself by using black culture’s own shining personifications of morality and paragons of virtue: no, no, wait for it……. Rappers. And. Comedians.

Rappers. And. Comedians.

Who in the heck patterns their behavior after rappers and comedians?

Okay fine, what people with common sense…..

Okay, okay! What people with the desire to do better, have better and pass on a better way of life to their children emulate rappers and comedians?!

Did I miss the post-racial revolution? Since when do conservative republican operatives cite rappers and comedians as their role models?!?!

Perhaps this is all a huge publicity stunt for Schlessinger’s next book: ‘Think like a Comedian, Act like a Rapper’.

The negative feeling (generated by thoughts) Schlessinger, has regarding black people and bw in general were on display. We need to recall that evidently, to Schlessinger, the caller had forgotten her place. In all her privileged glory, Dr. Laura communicated she did not feel black women were worthy of being taken seriously, of being protected or of compassion as another woman on the planet.

The one feeling distinctly conveyed in her diatribe is this: Black woman, you are not my equal.

Clearly Schlessinger felt/believed there would be no fallout for attacking this woman in this fashion. So, she ‘went all in’ on a black woman, who cares? Indeed. The only heat she worried about was her use of the n-word. She issued an ‘apology’ about her use of the word AND then true to form and expectations of privilege, claimed she was the victim in the exchange!!!

In this instance, as a certified counselor, Schlessinger is a big fail. She behaved in a dismissive, derisive, abusive manner toward someone who was seeking her help. Apparently in Schlessinger’s view, who was this black woman to complain? Her opinion seems to be, Jade shouldn’t have married inter-racially if she couldn’t handle the hateful, intolerant and rude comments of her husband’s friends and family. Jade should have expected to be treated with this lack of disrespect. To Schlessinger the entire matter seems unworthy of serious contemplation or compassion. What else should Jade have expected? It’s not like she’s entitled to or deserving of protection.

Sound familiar. Isn’t this remarkably similar to the burden-bearing-mule role AA women have been assigned in the black community? The larger society believes black women are supposed to take on other people’s hatred, bile, and intolerance without having their feelings hurt. Black women are strong; they can handle insensitivity, disrespect, and other-ization and not bat an eye. After all, it’s not like black women are human.

Going Forward
I say again, what AA women must pay attention to is not the use of racial epithet alone. Yes, AA women must refuse to use, laugh at, or respond (except indignantly) at being called the n-word by anyone! Schlessinger’s behavior alone should wake us up to the detriment this word is doing to our brand! If black men want to use the word, so be it. There is no reason for black women to agree actively or tacitly or otherwise.

What AA women must pay attention to is belief of some people (ww, bm, other haters) black women must stay in their place. This is nothing more than yet another scare tactic to get you not to consider dating in the global village. Jade is supposed to be a cautionary tale about inter-racial marriage. Don’t marry the evil white man, he will not protect you! Allow me to debunk this myth. The situation Jade found herself in is what happens when a woman fails to properly vet her intended. Period. Whether the man is black, white, grey, green, whatever!

Pay attention! The ultimate message of this entire media storm is: AA women, don't date outside your ‘race’ stay in your place like the strong black woman you are.

Disregard this foolishness! Resist!



GoldenAh said...

Oh, I'm standing up and applauding. This is a wonderful post. To be honest, I didn't listen to Dr Laura cause I know I'd be mad. Real mad.

However, I think there's a teachable moment in it and you've highlighted it perfectly: white women can be some horrible racist anti-black women bigots. This one got caught in the act. The funny thing is that she's so hardcore she couldn't cry her way out of this mess.

I agree that there's always this deliberate muddle where black women are concerned. The racism is the obvious thing, but it's the dehumanization and defeminization that's ultimately the killer. We're not supposed to be entitled to the protections and respect other women are.

Uh no, that kind of nonsense is over. We're going to get the respect, consideration, and protection we deserve regardless of who has a fit over it.

Great, great post!

Southland Diva said...

Thank you, thank you for your kind words. **smiling and waving**

I think AA women are approaching a critical juncture, a tipping point. Not in regard to the black community, but with regard to our options globally. Thanks to the internetz, more women are aware of other women like them. BW/IR blogs and BWE blogs are stops along the present day 'underground railroad'. Freedom (of the mind, heart and soul), love, protection and living well are our promised land.

We are the North Star Women!