Saturday, August 24, 2002

For blacks only

The right to be exclusive

        A favorite complaint of some white people is that African-Americans widen the racial divide with events that appear racially exclusive, such as the Black Family Reunion.

        “What if we had a White Family Reunion?” they say. “Imagine the protests!”

        Yeah, it's tough being part of the majority these days. White people just want to grab hands with African-Americans — after spending a few days finding some — and sing kumbayah. But African-Americans aren't necessarily cooperative.

        “Why do they have to make such a big deal about race, when we're not allowed to?” the majority wonders. “People are all the same, and we should all act like it.”

A comedian speaks

        I was half-heartedly watching Politically Incorrect one night when one of the guests said something relevant. Conversation had turned to another white-person grievance: how African-Americans use the “n-word” among themselves, but whites get in trouble for doing so.

        An African-American comedian had the perfect response. “It's the one perk of being black.” Another ought to be the right to come together for fun and fellowship in the context of racial solidarity.

        Obviously, white people can't and shouldn't do the same. Society is already set up to our advantage — every day is one big Whitefest, from the boardrooms of Cincinnati corporations to the stands at Reds games.

        For white people in Cincinnati who think they need still more time with other white people, I have one suggestion: Idaho.

Selective criticism

        We can be suspiciously selective when it comes to segregation concerns, too.

        White people don't say much, for instance, about the unseen forces that keep African-Americans out of the suburbs. Or the disparities in the quality of health care received by blacks and whites, as detailed in a March report by the National Academies' Institute of Medicine.

        Every year, however, someone invariably laments the segregation of Sunday-morning church services — which has to be the most harmless kind.

        “We are different. Ain't nothing wrong with being different,” the comedian D.L. Hughley says by way of introducing a riff on anorexia, the strange white person's affliction. In the black community, he jokes, starvation is never voluntary.

        “White folks do stuff for excitement that we don't do,” Mr. Hughley continues during a stand-up act filmed for The Original Kings of Comedy. “They've got to ski and bungee jump and sky dive....We have enough excitement in our lives trying to do regular stuff.”

        An imaginary conversation follows: “What are you going to do today?”

        “I'm going to drive past the police and try not to get my (rear end) whipped. Then I'm going to fill out this loan application that's been denied 50 times. Then I'm going to pull my wallet out and hope I don't get shot.”

        The audience — mostly black — roared in appreciation. You've got to laugh to keep from crying, and sometimes, that's best done among people you know will understand.

        Contact or (859) 578-5584.



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