Monday, October 27, 2008

Not Ready

I heard someone on the bus repeating the TV today. I was rockin way to far out to Felix, but even so I nearly said something about it.

She was saying that McCain will win the election because, come election day, we will see that America is just not ready for a black president.

Now she might be partly right. Maybe when push comes to shove, Americans won't vote for a black man, even while they might tell pollsters that they would. But not "ready"?

Ready is something you become after work. You practice four hours a day for a year, and then you're ready for your concert. You read your book, and you're ready for your book club meeting. If Americans won't vote for Obama because he's black, that doesn't mean they're "not ready," it means they're racists. You don't have to practice or study to eventually become not racist. It's not a skill that's slowly acquired after years of diligence. Now sure, a person can go, gradually, from being racist to being less-so. But you don't, during the process, say, "Wait, I can't be friends with you, I'm not ready to treat a black person as a peer. Give me a few more weeks."

Saying things like "We're not ready" isolates and reifies the problem. By presupposing a movement toward not-racism, we can overlook the personal need to actually move. The rhetoric of racial preparedness borrows from the worst problems of Humanism by silently claiming that society is necessarily making progress, and that all that is required is patience. So don't get too worked up about America being racist still, because it will all get better on its own.

What we need is not "We're not ready," but "Damn the racist bastards who fear a man for the color of his skin, for his religious beliefs, and for his parents' nationalities. And damn the complacent collaborators who indifferently await a tomorrow they lack the compassion to build."


Jennifer said...

You hit the nail on the head, Peat, as usual.

Coralee said...

I totally agree, and could certainly not have said it better.