Friday, July 10, 2009

Swimming in Racism

I've been reading the coverage and commentary about the Philadelphia Valley Swim Club's absurd, racist ejection of a bunch of children, largely African-American and Latino, from their facility. I think MyBrownBaby presents a good summary of what happened.

This is horrendous and I'm appalled and embarrassed that this is still going on. However, a part of me, the part of me that tries to calm down the neurotic mom-to-be every time I hear about another (cute white) girl kidnapped on CNN, is glad this makes the news. Careful now: not glad this happened, but glad it makes the news.

Because it wouldn't have been news prior to the civil rights movement. That was business as usual in those days.

Because what makes the news is the unusual: the kidnappings, the egregious blatant racism, the plane or train crash.

What doesn't make the news is sad and easy for privileged white people to forget about about: the grinding, ongoing, everyday, garden variety racism, the disappearances of non-white children, the deaths of our service members (many if not most non-white) in Iraq and Afghanistan, the hundreds dead every day in car accidents in this country.

We forget what's not in front of us, and the world appears a lot scarier when viewed through the lens of CNN (and the rest of the mass media of course, it's not just CNN).

We're not good at estimating risk, and I think it's partly because what we see on the news is so persuasive and alarming. What I expect people of colour understand very clearly though is that racism is still alive and well in North America - though I wasn't expecting it to manifest so blatantly in this day and age.

I'm glad Lenore Skenazy is doing her Free Range Kids thing, to remind us about what's really scary out there, and what's totally blown out of proportion. I'm always interested in the reality check. Any recommendations on places to get reality checks on life as a non-white person in North America? I'm reading...


MBB Founder and Editor Denene Millner said...

Hey there,

Thanks so much for the shout out on your site and, above all, calling attention to this appalling act. It is all at once unbelievable and absolute realism in this day and age... shamefully.

You asked where you can get reality checks in North America... black folks get that reality check all day, every day—in the grocery store, on the school bus, at the parent/teacher conference, in the mall, driving down the street, in the parks... you name the place, and I can show you the reality check. Please understand this isn't about playing the victim; obviously things are much better for people of color today than they were, say, just a scant 50 years ago. But that doesn't change the fact that our world is littered with this kind of ridiculous behavior—all day, every day. And it's maddening.

Thank you for caring and calling attention to it...

CaroLyn said...

Denene - thanks so much for stopping by, your kind comments and your excellent blog!