Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday morning rant: I'm not your girlfriend...

(via Jezebel)

Check out the video at the link above. I'll wait...

Watched it?

Now, I can't tell you how disgusted I am by people like Mary Matalin who think that in America, the ability to get basic healthcare for your family is a privilege rather than a right. But Matalin has long been a clueless, Republican hack, so...y'know...no surprises there. But I'm going to have to join Irin at Jezebel in saying a white person tossing out "girlfriend" in a professional conversation with a black woman equals epic fail. Donna Brazile is a fellow pundit on a political talk show, not Matalin's sassy, black sidekick. Thank the gods that Matalin didn't throw in the de rigeur drawl of the word. Girlfreeeeeyend.

Of course, it's not just professional settings where this kind of thing is demeaning...

There is little more annoying, frustrating and demonstrative of race bias, than trotting out so-called urban lingo from more than a decade ago in an effort to "relate" to an African American during a random conversation. Ditto any effort to mimic my actually pretty flat and generic Midwestern accent with some cross between Madea and Prissy from "Gone With The Wind," punctuated with snaps and cries of "No she di-n't." (And, yes, I did experience something quite similar within the last two weeks.)

See, when you do this, it tells me that while we are talking about politics or music or current affairs or literature or whatever, you are hyper-aware of my race, and that awareness makes you see not the woman in front of you, but a gross stereotype built of your own biases.

At least I know I am not alone in my annoyance, check out this query from a reader at Diversity Inc.
I am a well-educated, middle class black woman from upstate New York. Why do some white people speak to me in slang? It's as though they think they need to talk "cool" (in their perception) to be understood by me. Also, why do some white people appear surprised when they first see me after having spoken to me on the phone? Why, why, why do some white people think black people don't speak The King's English? Read more...
Oh, and there's this from Debra Dickeron at Mother Jones:
Anyway, just another day on the job, just another pitch for a book which, for once, sounds at least initially interesting, until I get to the sign-off: "Holler for review copies, eh?". Holler, not holla, but in either case: ironic wiggerness in the workplace.

I'm intellectually anal-retentive, so I can't help but burn daylight wondering: Did potential white reviewers get the same sign-off? Or have white folks developed several sets of 'pitch' macros with labels like "black, but an Uncle Tom who'll find this ironic," "white, but living in dream world wherein they're cool," and "confused, but too cowed to make waves."? Read more...
And then there is this never-not-funny, iconic episode of Dave Chapelle's "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong."




Now, methinks Donna Brazile is too savvy to "keep it real" on CNN, but I'd love to know if she got that little pang we sometimes get when one of those dull aches of racism roll by.


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