Friday, August 21, 2009

Chronicles of Life ... Sensitive v. Desensitized

While talking about yesterday’s incident, my mentor brought up an interesting point: Are black people sometimes too sensitive about certain situations, or have others become too desensitized over time?
She asked would I have been offended if another black person said the exact same "Aunt Jemima" commen. Yes! Ignorance goes many ways. For instance, I hate when other black people call my hair nappy. The word denotes images of coarse, unmanageable and bad hair. My hair is none of the above. It’s soft, easy to deal with and healthy, therefore good.
But I digress.
My mentor’s first question was an interesting point to ponder. I’ve often wonder that about myself based on my reactions to certain incidents.
When the whole Jena 6 incident happened I wondered what the whole uproar was about, and why was every upset. It seemed simple to me. Noose or not, there was no need to jump somebody. Six boys beat up one. Duh, they should go to jail.
Maybe being charged as adults was harsh, but if you do the crime you do the time. They brought that on themselves. So I, for one, was not taking time off to march for criminals.
Was I desensitized?
Then again, there was the yearbook incident at Charter Oak High School in California. Someone placed faked names on the real ones of Black Student Union members. The names were negative, stereotypical ones such as Tay-Tay Shaniqua. Those students ended up having to place stickers with their real names over the fake ones.
How that got through the final rounds of proofreading is beyond me. Clearly that issue was wrong. I was outraged at that ignorant prank.
Am I too sensitive?
And who can forget the whole Skip Gates issue? His neighbor called the cops saying two black men were breaking into a house. Once the police arrived, tempers flared. Gates was arrested and the race card was thrown.
How did I feel? Was I desensitized or sensitive? The jury’s still out on that one. Race could have been a factor, but so were attitudes.
I just want to know, can I get an Arnold Palmer Summit (it’s like the beer summit except you drink sweet tea and lemonade mixed) for my incident?
Many black people are overly sensitive. We do throw the race card, a lot. Sometimes it’s at things that have nothing to do with race. But there are indeed many instances when it is justifiable.
I look at it like this: The Civil Rights Movement didn’t really end until 1968, if that early. It’s now 2009. That is only 41 years. Just how much progress do we expect?
Sure we have a “black” president, but that definitely doesn’t mean all ignorance is gone. And I don’t mean just between black and white people. Hispanics, Asians and homosexuals are still trying to progress too.
The racial divide and inequality gap has closed somewhat, but there is still a long way to go.
I can’t speak for all black people, just myself. So here's my attempt at answering the question.
At times I am desensitized about issues. Not because I think black people have finally “arrived,” but because sometimes there’s a whole lot of hoopla over nothing.
But I also know when to be sensitive about something. Not because I want to throw out the race card, but because ignorance is still around.

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