Thursday, June 18, 2015

"Something Happened - Let's All Jump Onboard"

A woman born to white parents identifies herself insistently as black.


You could not write about it.

I tried to not write about it. 

But it told me I couldn’t.

Do you really have anything to add to the conversation?

I don’t know yet.  Maybe not.  For which I apologize in advance for possibly wasting your time.

A news event such as this, it’s like a pebble dropping in the water – there are inevitable ripples of reaction.  (And then it’s over.  Until the next pebble.  It would appear – as I view things from the perspective of accumulating decades – that there is always a pebble.  A different shaped one, maybe.  But a pebble nonetheless.)

A white woman announces, “I’m black”, and there is an immediate Rorschach of reactions:

One reaction:

“How dare a white woman decide she’s black simply because she wants to be.” 

(Bringing to mind the Woody Allen joke that “Anyone who converts to Judaism should be required to undergo five thousand years of retroactive persecution.”

Another reaction:

“I am insulted that people find is so hard to believe that a white person would want to identify themselves as black.”  (A possible misinterpretation.  What is “hard to believe” is the denial of indisputable biology.)

Another reaction:

“It’s like ‘transsexual’, only it’s about race.”  (Not yet it isn’t.  Not until it is scientifically proven that there is such thing as Mother Nature making a “skin-color mistake.”)

Another reaction (from the contingent advocating “Elective Race”):
“Defining a person’s race based on the race both of their parents is old-fashioned, narrow-minded and perniciously limiting.” 

(Chew on that one for a minute.  I realize definitions are not terminally “frozen” – the definition of marriage has recently expanded – but as a “definitional adjustment”, you would think it would apply in both directions.  A dark-skinned individual “electing” to identify themselves as white?  They could try it.  But they might still find difficulty hailing a taxi.  And don’t get me started on American Indians identifying themselves as Asian.)

Another reaction (possibly my own):

“The news organizations are congenital parasites, jumping on every controversy and turning it into money.”  (Unlike myself, who turns it into an unpaid-for blog post, which is different, don’t you think?)

Another reaction:

“This is modern-day ‘blackface!’”

Another reaction:

“She is just trying to get famous.”

Another reaction:

“It’s psychological.  Her parents chose to adopt four black kids.  She wanted to be just like the “Chosen Ones.”

I imagine there are still other reactions as well but I’ve run out of gas, and I’d like to quit while I’m ahead.  Although that ship may already have sailed.

In all the (temporary, whipped up) furor, one issue seems curiously overlooked.

There is a person involved here.

And something serious is going on.

It is very easy to forget that.

When you are thinking about something else.


Alanfg said...

And this is why you must keep writing!
Thanks, Earl.

Pidge said...

So does anyone remember the old Lana Turner movie, "Imitation of Life" where Susan Kohner (white) played the biracial daughter of Lana's friend/maid, desperately trying to 'pass' for white, to the chagrin of her mother (black) and the disgust of her boyfriend, whiter than white Troy Donahue? It seems that things never change....either way, you can't win!

Briscoe Driver said...

Said human being is obviously troubled. Even after seeing her attempt to explain it all during 2 days of interviews on the Today Show, I could only say, "huh?"