Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum

GENERAL => GENERAL FORUM => Topic started by: melaninmagic on March 25, 2006, 05:06:06 PM

Title: The More things change, the more they remain the same... discuss.
Post by: melaninmagic on March 25, 2006, 05:06:06 PM
        Racist Buffalo

        by Bruce Jackson

        In a marathon three- or four-hour session on Monday night, July 22, scores of Buffalo citizens got up in the Common Council's chamber and said what they thought about the plan to abolish the positions of elected Common Council president and three at-large Common Council members.

        Many, if not most, of the people who spoke were African-American and Hispanic, as were the people who listened but didn't get to speak, and as were the people on the City Hall porch and steps who couldn't get in. Almost without exception, the African-Americans and Hispanics who spoke said, "Don't do this to us. This is hurting us. You're doing something to us that you wouldn't do to white people."

        In the days that followed, Buffalo's and Erie County's white politicians and the region's only daily newspaper told those African-Americans and Hispanics that they misunderstood what was going on. The Council reductions had nothing to do with race; they were grounded entirely in economic and political efficiency; it was mere coincidence that the community that would lose representation at City Hall was the African-American and Hispanic community.

            óOur intentions are good, the white folks said, so it can't be racism. We know what's best for you, the white folks said, so it can't be racism. We're saving everybody money, the white folks said, so it can't be racism.

            óBut from here, it looks like we're getting screwed one more time, the black and brown folks said, so it sure feels like racism.

            óYou black and brown folks, the white folks said, just don't understand the difference between racism and economic efficiency.

        If this sorry story hadn't been taking place in my home town and if all the primary players weren't people I knew, I'd think this was some absurd parody made up by some foreign wag who knew nothing of American life in the early 21st century.

        And had this been a manufactured report from some wag who knew precious little about what kind of people we really are, I'd have said, "It's impossible that educated and informed whites could listen to every public voice in the African-American and Hispanic community say, 'Look what you're doing to us' and respond with nothing other, 'We're not doing anything to you. You just think we're doing something to you. We're just neatening things up. It's your perceptions that are wrong.'"

        I'd have said that it's impossible that the region's major daily newspaper could respond to a Council vote on which all the whites voted to reduce the political presence of all the town's non-whites with no response other than that the nonwhites who complained were themselves racist.

        I'd have said what I thought everyone in positions of journalistic and political power around here knew perfectly well: you donít have to call someone nigger, kike, dink, slope, wog, injun to be a racist, just as you donít have to call someone bitch, cunt, broad, fag, prick to be a sexist.

        All you have to do is have a perfectly good explanation why people like them canít be the boss, the foreperson, live on the block, get the contract, have the votes, get in the school, have to say something only once to get your undivided attention, get in the club, be taken seriously when they say something hurts a lot,  marry or even spend more than one experimental night with your son or your daughter or yourself.

        All you have to do is have perfect confidence that you know what is best for them and they don't, and when they say that what you're doing seems to them wrong, the problem is their inability to understand rather than real effects of what you're doing.

        The fact that you're not seeing something doesn't prove it isn't there. It proves only that you're not seeing it.