It’s that time of the year when black people prepare to go to 7:00 am Martin Luther King breakfasts and Hollywood rolls out any movie starring a black person in the lead.
Tonight, for the first time, I’m watching “The Help.” It’s ironic that I heard significant criticism from black people about The Help (“We’re tired of playing maids!); praise for “The Butler” (“Oh it was so good!”); and nary a peep about “Twelve Years a Slave.” In between those movies we heard Spike Lee bitch about “Django Unchained.”
I guess the closer we are seen next to power (black butler in the White House) it takes away from, mitigates the fear that we may only be looked upon by whites as merely the help….
White attitudes toward blacks don’t help. I remember vividly one evening while on campus studying for one of my law classes, a law school professor stopped me in the hall and asked me where he could find a mop. You see, the help did their janitorial work at night, and a 34 year old black man on campus at night could only be one of the help.
Was I angry? No, simply because he was in no position to define me; I had no ownership in his misconception; thus, it was not worth an emotional outburst. I gave him a curt response to his question (“No.”) and simply placed him on my personal “he’s an asshole” list.
After 50 years of the modern civil rights movement, the war on poverty, and voting rights, black people are still defining themselves a past and worst yet by a romanticized version of it. Whites have constructed a bubble, seeing themselves of making up for past wrongs of their ancestors with programs and policies, but still fearing that true interaction on a personal and social will sully them.
It’s time for both groups to let go of the isms and schisms of the past and move the hell on before they lock their children and grandchildren in the same prison.