Saturday, October 10, 2009

Of Course We Should Care

The New York Times searched Michelle Obama's lineage and discovered that her great-great-great grandmother was a slave named Melvinia Shields who was raped by a white man (as well as at least two men identified as slaves). I find this interesting. I also find it interesting that there are people out there who don't understand why this is important. I mean, she's black, so she's probably related to a slave somewhere, right?

Racism isn't limited to white people denigrating black people in the US. It's a blight on the entire human race and it isn't limited to skin color. Mel Brooks gave many examples of this, particularly in 1975's "Blazing Saddles." When negotiating with the railroad workers for help making the fake Rock Ridge, one of the townspeople offers, "All right... we'll give some land to the niggers and the chinks. But we don't want the Irish!"

One theory holds that this is evolution - fearing Them protects Us. Even if it is somehow connected to evolution, does that make it ok? Obviously, if I'm bleating about it here, I think not.

The fact that our current First Lady, our first black First Lady has slave lineage is a reminder of unpleasant truths about the US. These are things we shouldn't forget about. As unpleasant as they are, they shouldn't be pushed out of individual or public consciousness. It also establishes a direct link between the Obama White House and a part of American history that involves people other than the wealthy white men who "founded" the US.  

Wonder what's next. . .


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