Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Race and Class Again or A Difference That Makes A Difference?

So SK requested that I pen a letter to some newspapers and the like but I figured this as good a forum as any to get my thoughts out there and, should I get feedback, I will forward it along.

First let me say that my driveling on and on about race and class bores me nearly as much as it bores you. Conflation, comblation, who cares? Well, I suppose I do. I guess the reason that I care and that I believe that the horror of the folks down in New Orleans should be categorized as a class issue rather than a race issue is because we all have dirty hands. Each and every one of us.

If I say that the federal government, doesn’t care about blacks, then it would follow that I could surely point the finger and say, “See there! Just as I’ve always said, they are inhumane, rotten to the core, evil bastards!” Because I fancy myself a less-racist-than-the-average-Bush-adminstration-jackhole and, I might even go so far as to consider myself a pretty “fair” gal in regard to race (as much as a person can be being raised in the context of the U.S), I can sit in judgment. So, and this is important, I get to play the “blame game” with clean hands.

BUT, if I say that this is about CLASS, I have to admit that, in virtue of my cashing my pay checks and living the life (which I really am), I am contributing to a world that stratifies economics; a world where me getting something PREVENTS others from having it. I play the game that, by its current structure, makes some people live substandard existences. And what does that make me? And how to do I try to fix that? And how can I walk around with FILTHY hands because, while I don’t consider myself racist, I do consider myself comfortable and guilt lies in that when I don’t ensure that others, while maybe not comfortable, AT LEAST have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This is about class. Make no mistake about it. It may be, by extension, about race, but should you consider yourself non-racist, you do not get to walk away from this. Your hands are as filthy as mine. I live here, in this space, with my comforts and I watched the people die and I didn’t see them until now and now I give money? Now I try to fix it. A little too little a lot too late. We are bastards every one of us.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Duf said...

I think it might be about both. I wonder whether the reaction might have been different in a poor community that was white. We may never know.

It is very much about class. I feel very confident that if the same storm hit Fort Lauderdale or Hilton Head or Sea Island, the federal reaction would have made heads spin.

It is also, for sure, about politics. In an election year, in a different state...sheeeeiiiit.

As an AfAm, from a middle class background, who lives a middle class life, I have no problem answering the question about whether I would rather be poor and white or middle class and black. The latter wins every time. In America, there is racism, no doubt, but racism is not nearly as messed up as classism. Malcolm X was right: the next revolution will be about class, not race. Class is so much a part of how we act, but, because of the numbers and our history, it is very hard to divorce class and race. A disproportionate number of minorities are poor; there are no two ways about it.

What you wrote that really made me think: if it is about race, then we can walk away unscathed - they are bastards. If it about class, then we cannot. I feel horribly about my own reaction to the storm. In the aftermath, I cashed in 50,000 frequent flyer miles and flew with my daughter to Kansas City for some R and R - job's a lil' stressful right now. No check to the Red Cross sent just yet. Nice. While my thinking on race is not perfect, I would be a bit surprised if my racism was directed toward my own skin.

Last, whether it is about race or class, we all have dirty hands if we tolerate it.

Sorry to ramble. Maybe I should get my own blog or something. ;-)

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been wrestling with this - I think a lot about little luxuries - letting the water in the sink run while I wipe down my kitchen counters, taking a 10 minute shower, cooking dinner ... how awful that anyone in my country had to suffer as those people did, and not just for a day, for 4-5 days without food, without water ... I think the failure to handle the situation in any kind of adequate manner falls on city, state and federal levels. Why weren't the school buses used to evacuate (no comment from the mayor, who I think is doing the best that he can), why wasn't water sent in, even if National Reserves couldn't get there (why could Harry Connick get to the Superdome and the National Guard couldn't...). I don't understand that the feds would let New Orleans go like that, especially since it turns out that the port is VERY important to the nation's economy ... who knew?

I gave a bit of money, and will keep an eye out for other things I can do. I honestly wish I could offer someone a space in my home, or a job, something real. I think guilt is almost a luxury with this disaster - people lost their entire lives - their homes, their possessions, family ... their dignity. Funny how 10 days ago I was feeling sorry for myself (I so want to buy a house and the proces are outrageous in Portland) and now I realize how much I have. I also realized I need to get some kind of emergency kit together, because I can't count on the goernment to help me.

Ah, I ramble. Back to work.


9:06 AM  
Anonymous bahejay said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Aerenchyma said...

bahejay, consider yourself censored.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous bahejay said...

The answers to the worlds problems is found in absolute truth. And that absolute truth can only be found in God. This is where we can find the answers on how we should treat others and the things we should be doing in society. We cannot find these answers within ourselves because of our sinful nature. Which is a selfishness that is in all of us.

9:59 PM  
Blogger mister williams said...

To bahejay...who has a valid point: we are all sinners; perfection can only be found in, well, myth. Here! Here! Hats off to such a profound statement! Bahejay, there will be plenty of time for you to vacation with your God on your exclusive resort cloud when you're dead. But for now, come back to earth and get your hands dirty with the rest of mankind cleaning up this mess called life. And as any good carpenter knows, you have to the best with the tools you have on hand: You and me, our minds, our relationships--our aspirations to LIVE equally just, peaceful lives.

7:02 AM  
Anonymous bahejay said...

Mister Williams, I fear although your motives are good, you are using the wrong tools. You have more tools on hand than it seems you are aware of. I do live in the real world. I grew up in south-Louisiana and have friends and family that have lost everything because of hurricane Katrina. The ones that have not lost their homes, have taken in those who have and have been working in the shelters almost everyday. I am on my way this weekend to help in one of the shelters. I do not say this to brag on myself or on other Christians, but it seems that the vast majority of the people that are getting their hands dirty are in fact Christian individuals and organizations. Allow me to share something with you from Galatians 5:16-24--"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are lead by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruits of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with it's passion and desires." The major tool you are missing is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. Without it, you cannot overcome the deeds of your flesh and you are doomed to repeat your same destructive behavior that ultimatly brings death.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Aerenchyma said...


5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All behavior leads to death... duh.
bahejay, you sound like you need to get a life. One in the here and now, not the one you THINK you'll have when you die. The practice of believing that something actually comes after death comes from "fear" that it really IS all over once you take that dirt nap. Live for the day!

6:11 PM  

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