Sunday, September 24, 2006

of one blood or, the hidden self.

despite the title, this is not a post about the waste of paper that was pauline hopkins' last serial novel. (forgive that "waste of paper" phrase. i'm still bitter.) in fact, it's a post about the latest controversy surrounding some of the governator's recent remarks about those amalgamating blacks and latinos.

if you've been living under rock like i have (i didn't hear about this until my homegirl, rrrr forwarded me the ny times article), you might've missed it. apparently the governator's opponent, democrat phil angelides and crew, got a hold of some audio tapes with ahhhnold speculating on the nationality of california state assemblywoman, bonnie garcia. on the tape, one can hear schwarzenegger and his chief of staff discussing garcia's heritage. is she from cuba? puerto rico? apparently all they know is that garcia isn't mexican. but other than that deliniation, it doesn't matter much. cuba...puerto's all the same, right? little island, brown people... according to schwarzenegger, "they are all very hot. they have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the latino blood in them that together makes it."

hmm. the rest of this entry could go in a variety of ways...
  1. i could lament on how dirty politics have gotten. i'm so sick of these politician niggas slinging all the mud they can muster in their hands during election season.
  2. i could go on and on about how the state i currently romanticize in each and every one of my daydreams is, in fact, populated by people who i'd eventually come to despise. ah, yes, californians will surely not be exempt from my contempt. (i hate when i rhyme.)
  3. i could jump on the anti-governator bandwagon, and criticize the stupid shit he says. but what's the point in that?
  4. i could ruminate about how ethical it was(n't) to release this tape. apparently the file was accessible via a website that does not require any sort of authorization. despite that, schwarzenegger's comments were said during a private meeting. now, of course, there are plenty of you who would argue that "privacy" is not a viable excuse for saying such things. point well taken. and believe me, i am nevereverever interested in defending some fucked up shit a white dude said. however, even one of my main men, mark twain, said a thing or two that might be deemed, um, racially insensitive. (and remember, kids, he's lightweight responsible for the folks who brought you brown v. boe!) hell, i not-so-privately say fucked up shit on a daily basis. if i ever decide to run for office, the day following my announcement they'd dedicate the entire newspaper to shit i've said on this blog alone; i hope they haven't recorded all of my phone conversations.
nope. none of that.

rather, i'd like to briefly think about bonnie garcia's response. along with chastising angelides' squad for how they accessed the tape, schwarzenegger's crew cites that garcia wasn't offended by the governator's comments. and, well, they were talking about her. so arnie should get a pass, no? who cares? i'm not really interested in highlighting the various reasons why garcia might (should) have been offended. i think that's pretty obvious. and frankly, by this point, we should all understand that in this postpostmodern world we live in, having a member of the race cosign does not give pale face a pass. nah. not hardly...

a brief digression:

a while ago, my mom called me up slightly pissed because of a conversation she'd had earlier. my mom isn't really into sports, but somehow the nfl came up in this particular discussion. often known as the "no fun league," some friends of hers were griping about penalties certain players receive because of their end zone celebrations. because, you know, egotistical millionaires being charged several thousands dollars for doing the ickey shuffle on the other team's field is the type of shit we really need to be pissed about. but i digress. apparently, mom's homies were intimating that league rules were racist, or perhaps, racially motivated, because "that's how black people are." meaning: when something good happens, black people like to get their praise on. um, ok.

i bring this up to highlight the tragic flaw in all of this essentialist jargon. in my estimation, the same logic that makes you conclude that arnie's comments weren't offensive, that "that's just how black people are," is potentially the same rationale employed to oppress those same groups. it's a slippery slope. that same "hot blood" that makes you fiesty, or your food spicy, could be the same "hot blood" that allows you the stamina to pick oranges in the heat for 50 cents a day. so, where do you draw the line? and who gets to draw it?

i'm not suggesting that there aren't commonalities between people who may or may not be grouped under certain ethnic/racial/national/whatever rubrics. i'm also not suggesting that race is a myth. that is not, however, a statement which supposes that race is some really important biological shit. i'm not talking about blood here; i'm talking about the way people live their lives. that shit's not about dna, it's about society.

that said, it's the blood part that scares me most. when you go there, you imply that some unalterable thing dictates your behavior--good or bad. and if you're gonna blame blood, that hidden self which determines your temperament and your decision to shuck and jive in celebration of the six points you've just scored, well, what are you gonna say when someone suggests that dunking a basketball is one of the only things you were meant to do? so, ok, go ahead. give arnie and the rest a pass. it seems to me that what may or may not be offensive is tied to one's opinion, and we all got a different one. but when someone uses "blood" to explain away and assign some deleterious behavior to you and your people, i hope you have a good response, and it better be more than a "yo' mama" joke.

because at that moment, an impeccable retort will be essential.

language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison


Blogger MsAbcMom said...

Thank you for writing this. You articulate many of the points I have been thinking and trying to say but could not put them together quite as well as you have.


24/9/06 22:37  
Blogger Hollambeeee said...

i feel u seems as if people want to assume the stability of identity only insofar as its beneficial to the group...

i guess the problem occurs when the other, particularly one that constitutes power and authority by virtue of race, ethnicity, sexuality, etc proclaims those things which constitute the stable identity for a group. so something being "in the blood," makes it biological and ontological...

but i feel ain't cool if we do the same thing...

25/9/06 08:05  
Anonymous pclarity said...

The point isn't whether or not it is "okay" for the minority to accept such statements OR for them to even make the same such statements. It is not okay for anyone.

Semantics aside, the bigger picture I see is that statements like these are endemic of the fact that race is a construct and that those in power are not required, by virtue of their privilege (e.g. the governator, garcia, hell BILL COSBY *ahem*), to recognize that.

The nuance in thinking required to see that this is not biological, but indeed societal, is not something that someone who lives in a large glass house needs to bother with since they believe *looks at Oprah* that their money has insulated them from such a requirement.

THAT is the problem and my retort.

26/9/06 06:30  
Blogger summer m. said...

@all: i'd responded to you all, but it disappeared.

ugh. maybe later.

26/9/06 08:25  
Blogger Alii said...

California looo-ove
Shake it shake it baby

Arnold is the truth-no other governor can say shit and have the assembly woman respond with "i'm glad the governor recognized my abilities and dedication to my constituents" or whatever she said.

im just saying...

(as i try desperately hard to keep the integrity of the state i was born into)

26/9/06 13:38  
Blogger Phoenix said...

wow. there's a lot going on here and while i promised never to post another comment on your blog, all i've got to say is, (quit lying folk), you do too love to rhyme.

28/9/06 09:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad I'm so late getting to this -- but your post reminded me of this story:

When I was taking affidavits in the Coke race disc. suit, there was this one woman who I was interviewing who felt that her white male boss had discriminated against her as a black woman because he asked her to dress more professionally for work. To be specific, he said she dressed like hooker and she needed to stop. She said to me (and to him) that black women love color and style and that basically, what to him was her dressing like a "hooker" was actually just her being a (fierce, powerful, etc.) black woman and he was putting 300+ years of white male psycho-sexual fucked up shit re: women of color onto her "natural" blackness.

I swear, I am as sensitive as anyone to such things; but as I took her affidavit (mid-day, on her lunch break) I was thinking to myself: "I can't beleive you wear that to work. You look like a hooker." But I took the affidavit anyway and added it to the pile. And my conclusion: ALL was true! ALL that was being said on BOTH SIDES was happening at ONCE! Except that shit about "natural" blackness.

Ok, that's my Race in America anecdote for the day. Do with it what you will.


1/10/06 13:45  

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