So other than my personal, and pretty inconsequential drama, a lot’s happened out there in the big old world over the past year.
This post is intended to be lighthearted, but make no mistake that the issues are not that way in my brain, heart or opinion.
Since moving off the farm in November I’ve enjoyed my first “commute” in over a decade. I listen to NPR, the droll repetitive news source that jokes about its appeal to white people. I love it. The news, but mostly the special guests and other programs that are funny, poignant, current, whatever.
This morning in a lighthearted bit on NPR’s Morning Edition, listeners got movie and TV recommendations from Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the black power couple that combined are responsible for TV drama like The Game and Being Mary Jane and comedy film Jumping the Broom.
In a year that has brought such pain to communities of color and empathetic allies, their conversation was a subtle reminder that even though fewer people are hashtagging I can’t breathe these days, these issues are not going away.
Just this week three Muslims were shot dead in North Carolina. So was an unarmed Mexican immigrant crossing the street in Pasco, Washington. No one seems to care. Or else we just don’t know what we can do. Don’t believe we can change anything.
These cases come and go with little consequence. Maybe someone gets locked up, but the trend continues. The poor, the crazy, the tinted. It’s like there’s a resolution that’s been made. Someone noticed that we’re not doing anything.
Salim Akil mentions the conversation recounted by so many black parents. The conversation where the parent tells them not to run around in this affluent neighborhood. Someone may mistake this boy’s playing as running away in this affluent neighborhood. In his affluent neighborhood.
It’s a brief bit in an otherwise upbeat piece recommending things to watch. (See or listen to the the interview here). And I promised this was going to be lighthearted, so I’ll skip to the finale. Salim Akil talks about movies that are about being an American, yes an African-American, but in the end the movies are about growing up, living and being an American. Then he shares his hope that white people will watch these movies and say, “You know, I like these black people!”
I’m paraphrasing because I can’t remember the exact words, but that was the feeling. The host laughs, the guests laugh, but I don’t think it was as much of a joke as it was the truth. My momma always used to say that half of what’s said in jest is true. I’d say most is more like it.
The truth is, I do love black people. As a stereotype, this community is bold and truthful. They are community-based and richly steeped in their surroundings. They are expressive and honest, and no nonsense. As long as our society deals in stereotypes I may as well get these ones out. I wish I had half the character, class and grace required to live day to day as a person of color. I stand with you, and I’m not forgetting.