weekend, ESPN fired an editor who posted
a racially offensive
headline about NBA player Jeremy Lin; the
network also suspended an anchor who used the same term. And taking the Lin
coverage as a starting point, SNL produced a parody mocking a media double standard: stereotypes about Asian
Americans are acceptable, but stereotypes about African Americans are
Lin media storm exposes the myth of a colorblind society. As much as we want to
believe in meritocracy, equality and individuality, we rely on racial
assumptions to make sense of the world and those around us. In many cases, the
assumptions carry real consequences.
"Not God bless America, God damn America!" bellowed Jeremiah Wright from his former pulpit.
"That’s in the Bible for killing innocent people." This sermon
quote--actually, usually just the "God damn America" part, stripped of any
context whatsoever--created a media frenzy, earned death threats for
Wright and jeopardized a then-parishioner's presidential campaign.
"I don't think God will continue to bless America," said Rick Santorum the other day, "if we continue to kill 1.2 million children every year." Unlike Wright, Santorum is himself a candidate for president. Yet two days later Google offers mostly crickets.
My great-grandfather was lynched. It was not a big affair in the town square; it happened on a dusty southern road. But its imprint and the communal denial in the small southern town that is our homeland have had lasting reverberations for generations of my family.
Last Tuesday night, I went down to Chicago's Grant Park to witness
Barack Obama's election and victory speech. At the event, I was struck
by the fact that the crowd was at its loudest and most excited not when
Obama and his family took the stage but earlier, when CNN projected him
as the winner.
The story of the lone, crazed gunman is a familiar one in America, but that is not the story of Benjamin Smith, who went on a drive-by shooting spree in Illinois and Indiana over the July 4 weekend, killing two and wounding nine.
Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin stands alongside Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, Thomas Paine's Common Sense and Frederick Douglass's Narrative as an American classic. Any liberally educated person needs to know something about Eliza, Uncle Tom, Eva and the notorious Simon Legree.