November 30, 2006

TWO STEPS BACK

Dear Michael Richards,

This letter will remind you of the letter I wrote to the Abu Ghraib jerks. That's because I realized today that we've got ourselves an analogy here. Remember the SAT? Here's a good one for you:

Abu Ghraib soldiers : Iraq :: Michael Richards : race relations

Yes, Kramer, you're the Lynnie England of race.

The rest of us work hard to heal the wounds of yesteryear. We try to treat people fairly, we make sure we never say something that could offend, and we work to keep our country moving forward towards harmony between the races. And you come along and yell at someone about lynching.

What in the holy hell were you thinking?

When I first heard this story, I thought it was weird and dumb. But I really didn't think it mattered in the long run. Then I read this sentence in a completely unrelated article today:

If blacks are to fight the plague that is racial ugliness -- and racism remains one of the great threats to the Republic, no question about it, just ask that Seinfeld loser or Mel Gibson -- then we have to be honest with ourselves.

So now, thanks to you, people with an agenda can hold you up as the Paragon of Racism. See, white people are racist deep down: that Kramer guy called people the n-word. Just like how the Abu Ghraib soldiers destroyed the reputation of all the other honorable and admirable soldiers in Iraq, you have destroyed whatever credibility we white people have when we claim that racism isn't nearly as bad as some people let on.

Now my college roommate, who was afraid of walking across campus for fear of being lynched, will have more of a reason to think all white people really are out to get her. Now when some loser celeb says that the president hates black people, someone might honestly think that a tirade about lynching could just as easily come out of Bush's mouth as it did out of yours.

Black people everywhere will be waiting for the racist shoe to drop, thanks to you.

Most of us are not racist. We don't think lynchings are funny. We have enough of a moral or societal compass to know that what you did was completely out of line. And weird. Most of us don't have that crap bubbling right below the surface. Slight provocation won't give us n-word diarrhea of the mouth. We look at what you did as the strangest and most horrifying thing you can think of.

But to the black author of that article, it was just proof that "racism remains one of the great threats to the Republic."

Thanks a lot. All the progress that we white people have made to try to prove that we judge on the content of character: gone.

I hate you for that.
Sarah

Posted by: Sarah at 09:49 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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1 Actually, I'm still completely stunned by the whole incident. I can't tell you how many times I've seen that stinking tape played and re-played on CNN and it's almost like watching a wild man...and then you see him apologizing on Letterman, talking about himself in the third person, like it was his alter ego up there. I completely agree that we all DO NOT have those words lying dormant in our minds. I just can't believe that the man on that tape is the guy I've laughed at so many times while watching "Seinfeld." Sad.

Posted by: nicole at November 30, 2006 12:26 PM (V53sO)

2 Hopefully, most of us black people will not make such a leap, because we are smarter than that. Hopefully, most of us will see this for what it is... an actor with little experience in the stand-up realm who freaked out when some black people in the audience heckled him. What I know now about Michael Richards, rather than every white person in America, is that he had the n-word lying dormant in his mind, and he couldn't handle the pressure of performing his craft. What I know about Michael Richards now is that he is a really small man that said some really wrong things. He has also ruined it for his "Seinfeld" costars because I will no longer be watching that show. He was my favorite character.

Posted by: Terri at December 01, 2006 10:05 AM (cgjLF)

3 Terri, I'm so glad that you see this the way I do: as a very WEIRD thing. I have no idea how Richards grew up or what his problem is; this is just beyond my realm of understanding. I was so disappointed to see that Freeman article though. I want to be judged on the content of my own character too, not lumped in with lunatics like Kramer.

Posted by: Sarah at December 01, 2006 10:17 AM (7Wklx)

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