https://wp.me/p9F6XR-jb, Huffington Post
Michael Jordan was a guest star on a memorable Saturday Night Live. It was a good episode, though nothing compares to the SNL superstars: Eddie Murphy in Buckwheat Sings the Hits, or overweight John Belushi, cigarette in hand, placing first in a race against fit guys in his commercial for Donuts, Breakfast of Champions, after Bruce Jenner won the gold in the 1976 Olympic decathalon and was on the Wheaties (Breakfast of Champions) box. The Michael Jordan episode was very enjoyable, and not just the part when he talked about endorsements he regretted, like the feminine hygiene product he endorsed when a young woman asked for a remedy when she felt “not so fresh.”
In a different part f the SNL episode Michael Jordan was working on his self-esteem by looking in a mirror and repeating “I’m good at what I do” and “People like me.” What made that funny was Michael Jordan would never have to say those things. If he had self esteem issues it wasn’t because there was any doubt that he was skilled and well respected by people who valued these skills. Some things are so true they go without saying and, if you say them, it’s laughably, redundantly, absurd.
Before Obama was elected Chris Rock said, White people don’t tell their kids they can be anything they want to be, even president. They don’t have to. Whereas black parents tell their kids this to shore them up before the racist world has at them. Yes, things change, but the underlying reality that the facts of life need not be stated, remains the same.
I’ve actually tried out the phrase “white lives matter” with people to gauge their response. Everyone found the statement redundant and I saw white people chuckle, now and then. Why would such a thing ever need saying? Or what about men insisting to women that what they say goes. Again, a chuckle. I have never seen a man say “no,” really mean it, and then wonder for even half a second if his “no” would be respected.
The first black history books I read in high school showed pictures of black men carrying signs in the 1960’s that read “I Am a Man.” Even as a teenager I found it tragic that they’d have to say that, and although I couldn’t articulate it, I knew even then, that such verbalized insistence was somehow an argument against the validity of the slogan. After all, I don’t expect to hear chants of “Gravity matters, things fall down.” Everyone knows that.
The fact of my own importance is not mitigated by my race. I am not an overly optimistic Pollyanna. Anyone who knows me even slightly knows that. Some who think they know me believe I am coming from a place of vanity, arrogance, what with my expectation that my humanity goes without saying. Again, not something that a white person would ever be accused of if the roles were reversed.
I once offended some people who assured me they thought blacks were just as good as they were, when I said, “yes, whites are just as good as I am.” But why did they get mad? Aren’t those statements the same? Of course not. The insult is hidden in there, but upon closer examination it becomes obvious that if it has to be said, it must not be accepted as truth. Now that, I can’t accept.