I just got off the phone with my father who’s been very distressed by all the images and news coming out of New Orleans at this time. A man who’s been expecting some kind of race war since 1984, my father is looking at this moment in time as a perfect opportunity for The Man to finally throw up his hands about The Violent Looting Hordes of Black People and put us all in Gitmo-like camps.
I had to calm him down; he said that things are tense where he is. Since he’s in Los Angeles, I’m not surprised. The images and news of the stranded shooting at rescue helicopters, of the city degenerating into chaos over the past week – it resonates strongly in a city that’s simmering in its own racial tensions. For him, our people have turned into animals. (He’s having a very Bill Cosby moment.)
He woke me up very early this morning (before church!!) to ask if I’d heard the rumors about cannibalism in New Orleans. I hadn’t. So I googled it. Almost all the sites that mentioned cannibalism were wacked out extreme right-wing, white supremacists.
My father was so distraught he came awfully close to saying things like this guy is saying (found via steve gilliard). I'm not going to go into an impassioned plea for racial tolerance or some pedagogical song-and-dance about how racism takes an individual act, substitutes it for the whole and then leaps off into insanity from there. It's too exhausting to teach white folks (and black folks like my dad) about the power structures of Racism. Let's keep the conversation on the micro level.
Is that what the majority of us think? Deep down, below our manners and our politics? Beyond stats on FEMA, levees, poor planning, poor execution, is this what we really think?
If it is, the problem isn’t just in New Orleans.
The Joy of Translating
1 month ago