I am a 73 year old white American. I look and sound like your standard white American. But I am not. I have 5 daughters, and 2 sons. Between them they have 3 mothers and 4 fathers. There are 2 religions and some atheists among them. One of them is black. The spouse of one is of Hispanic descent. One of my children lives an alternative life style and is openly gay. For 6 years, I was a single parent and raised 3 of my children alone. My family has had crosses burned on our front lawn on two separate occasions. Once when we brought home our adopted 6 week old black son and again 18 months later. One of my children was murdered. I am hardly your average white guy.
I was a data processing practitioner or consultant for all of my professional career (1953-1993). I have worked in over fifty different companies, some vary large and some very small and many in between. I have a lot of experience in white corporate America.
What we all heard Don Imus say this week is what I have heard all of my professional career in American corporations across this nation. Because I look and sound just like the other white guy at work, people have always let down their guard to entertain me with their humor and opinions about minorities. It is amazing how often, on the job, I have had to suppress my anger at the remarks I was hearing because the person saying them was a client or a boss. It is amazing how often I had to repeated tell people of my life experience and how differently I felt than they did and that I found no humor in their “stories”.
I am not only talking about racism against blacks, but also Mexicans, women, homosexuals, and all of the other minorities we have here in America.
All of this racism continues in white America unabated today. It is more carefully controlled than 40 years ago, but the good old boys club still is in effect. Don Imus is just your typical
racist person. Publicly, they usually are on their good behavior, but will slip up occasionally. We have seen lots of instances of this frequently in the past. The problem is that these people only control themselves publicly because of the uproar that ensues when they do slip up. They find pleasure and some sort of personal gratification in the racial joke that could just as easily be turn into parrot jokes. But apparently parrot jokes don’t communicate their inner feelings nearly as well as minority jokes.
I am email pen pals with a number of ex-colleagues, classmates and friends and even though they know me pretty well, I still get the occasional joke that is totally raciest, bigoted and hurtful. Just recently, one person I care a great deal about who is a Sunday school teacher sent me a horridly bigoted “joke”. When I challenged them about the “joke” their response was they were just kidding.
Just kidding! Well that is all that Imus was doing. He was just kidding.
Wrong, he was not kidding, he was Speaking Out Stupid.