(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
I often quote Nezua from The Unapologetic Mexican here. But if you’ve ever read his writing, you know that the man knows how to sit down at a keyboard and bang out some amazing thoughts. One of his latest, A New Breed of Colorblindness, was particularly powerful to me.
The post is a reaction to one by Nina at “Kimchi Mamas” titled Mutt Like Me. As we probably all know, at Obama’s first press conference after the election, he spoke about about the family getting a dog and stated his preference for adopting a “mutt like me.” Here’s what Nina had to say about that.
I’ve heard mixed-race people use that term to describe themselves before, usually in the same ha-ha way Obama did. I’ve also heard it thrown around as an insult, a pejorative, a slur. I’ve felt the slap of that word across my face and it is not a word I can “reclaim.” My fear, however, is that Obama, as the first mixed-race president, will shape the way most Americans view people of mixed race for at least a generation. And will Obama calling himself a “mutt” – with humor, as if the word is nothing, nothing at all – make it socially acceptable for people to start calling me a mutt? My kids?
Because not only does the word have a history as a slur, but there are reasons that that word makes such an easy slur. It allows people to rhetorically reduce us to animals – people “bred” like dogs are bred. For all our “mutts are better!” talk (it is, as Obama knows, better to adopt a dog from a shelter, right? Rejected, but nonetheless in need of love), it still comes from a place where “purebreds” are better. It stinks of eugenics and generally just makes me queezy.
One of the comments to this story at boston.com says this:
Oh, get over it. We are way to wrapped up in race in America.
I chuckled when Obama said that, that’s what I call my self, so what I am too.
The Black, White,Asian, Latino thing is getting soooo tiring, let’s start acting like the brothers and sisters that we really are. The constant racial harang is only a mechanism to divide and destroy.
This is one of the things I worry about a lot in what some want to call our “post-racial” United States now that Obama has been elected president. Yes, it is a powerful step forward. But there are people who continue to pay a heavy price every day for the color lines we still draw in this country. If you have any doubts about that, Nezua points out this story from just a few days ago.
And he ends with this call to a place of real unity.
IF WE WANT TO UNITE, it cannot be by overlooking differences that stab at people and stick in their throats and veins and bellies. This unity must come about by connecting ourselves through struggle; by working together to fight the iniquities that pit brown against black against gay against indigenous against secular against Trans against Asian against Disabled (and so on) and all so that one or two types of persons can ascend unfettered, to the top of the heap (of riches and power and bodies and lives and lost chances). We must band together and abdicate those hateful systems already in place,…and we must fight against those who would work to keep them in place.
Anything else is just a joke.