Tar Baby

Let’s face it. Our society is a little weird.

Some days, I think, you know?  We’ve come a long way. I was talking to my class last night about this. They have to write a Rhetorical Analysis paper on a speech by Malcolm X, and we listened to Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech to sort of warm us up to it. And, as a black man, I was able to say to them, hey, things are better now than they were in the 1960s.  I mean, then, there is no way I’d be in front of you, black and tattoos and all.  That just wouldn’t happen. Now, I mean, I am a walking, talking example of how far this country has gone when it comes to race.

And then I wake up and read about this.

I was walking with someone once and they used the word “Nigger” in conversation. I said, hey now, whoa, whoa, whoa, and they said, what?  It’s just a word?  As if words don’t have power.  Right now, I want you to stop and look at your computer.  The name of the computer is “Computer” and by calling a computer a computer, you are delivering large amounts of information.  If you were on the phone with a friend and you said, “Let me look it up on my brick,” your friend would imagine you looking at a brick.  Words are how we convey the reality of our lives.  Words are the most powerful thing in all creation. And “Tar Baby” is not a term you should toss around to help people understand your point. In fact, I will say that you can go your entire life without saying “Tar Baby” and it will be a fine life.

And to say, well, he might not have known that’s a racist term.  That’s valid.  If I go overseas, and I try to tip someone, but I don’t know it is rude to tip, I might offend someone.  Once I understand that I didn’t know a piece of the culture, and once I understand that what I did was rude, I apologize. And then I don’t do it again.  Ignorance is not an excuse. It’s a problem. Saying “I didn’t know” is valid.  But, the complete sentence should be,  “I didn’t know that was racist, and I apologize.”

One last note:  Republicans.  Seriously.  If you want to gain voters, you need to stop with any references to social or cultural concepts. Your economic polices are valid in many ways, and your foreign policies and your ideas of the role of government can be persuasive.  But as soon as you reveal yourselves to be possible bigots and/or morons, you lose all hope of gaining potential audiences.  In other words: Grow up.

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