Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Josh Howard & the Election

I'm reposting on a friend's request, an old post I wrote over at pushback.org:

The recent story about Josh Howard, forward for the Dallas Mavericks, being caught on video
making an inflammatory remark about black people not singing the national anthem, definitely gave me pause. Not just because I hate the Mavs for firing Avery Johnson. Not just because it’s another example of our TMZ-obsessed culture. The story actually terrified the mess out of me. And that fear deserved some contemplation.

Is it sad that as an African American and a progressive, I am terrified that every time a prominent black person does anything even slightly controversial in public during the next two months, Armageddon is coming to progressives and that as a race we’re going to be set back 50–if not 200–years? Hence my fervent bedtime prayers that the idiot that is O.J. Simpson doesn’t do anything stupid during his
trial this week. Or that Al Sharpton stays hidden in a salon and doesn’t hold any rallies in October (valid and respectable as most of them are). Or that my favorite rappers stop calling themselves “the hood’s Barack,” no matter how hot the track is… even if they are Obama’s favorite rappers. Why are we, in 2008, in such a tenuous racial situation that I live in constant fear that the progress we have made can slip away with one cell-phone video?

The impulse that secretly made me relieved to find out that the Unabomber wasn’t black and horrified to find out that the 2002
snipers were, is the same one that made me a little peeved at the late Bernie Mac and irate at Jesse Jackson, despite being enormously humored by both incidents earlier this year.

This equal parts rational and irrational reaction is exacerbated in a political climate that daily scratches the surface of race like a chicken pox sore–-incessantly, compulsively, and superficially, not realizing that all of the scratching (the
empty questions, the sound bites, the special reports) only make the thing more raw and irritated.

With all of America’s attention now focused on race, when something sticky happens, I not only have to prepare for strangers on the bus looking at me the way they did after Janet Jackson bared her breast next to the obviously innocent and corn-fed Justin Timberlake–I now have to worry about the political implications on a presidential candidate that has become the poster child for black achievement.

Admittedly, the problem isn’t just society. My well-rehearsed bravado and rather healthy ego makes me publicly say, “I couldn’t care less what racist people think of me or Star Jones (slightly embarrassing) or Young Berg (downright insulting). They are who they are and have a right to do or say whatever they want. I am my own person, with my own identity, living my own life. So suck it.” But at the same time, perhaps I should do some soul searching and figure out why I still identify with my race in a way that makes me secretly beholden to the opinions that a racist, mainstream media hold of my fellow African Americans.

In the meantime, please forgive Josh Howard. I’m sure with a little media training he would never have done this… so close to the election.

No comments:

Post a Comment