Friday, October 9, 2009

Three-fifths Funny?

Since I was little, I've been hearing my non-American mother express shock and outrage, over the tendency in U.S. culture to make buffoons out of those with darker skins. The TV shows of the 1970s were particularly guilty, although remembered 'fondly' nowadays, even by many who should know better.

Yesterday, in Australia, Harry Connick Jr. refused to play along when a Gong Show-like television program had, as contestants, a group of singers made up as though they were of other races. They pretended to be the Jackson 5. Harry was having none of it. He spoke at the program's end quite clearly about fighting against the 'make-them-buffoons' tendency in the U.S. (endearing himself to me, I must say).

A family member described her experience working in a southern state. In the medical field, a supervisor directed her to fail to service any African-American person. The treatment she provides is often life-saving, and she simply acted as her conscience directed her to. The result was that she was told she had better not roller-blade outdoors, or ride her bike too close to certain points, and then her barn got shot up. The year was 2005.

Never kid yourself that we're done with this race thing. And kudos to Harry.

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