Trying to face racism honestly and keeping my mind pointed at the reality of racism, ending it, and in particular, racism as it comes at my own daughter, is in large part, the reason I started writing this blog. If you’re white (yes, I am) and you have a child of color (who I love so much) and you keep your eyes and ears open (I do) you see racism– in the biggest picture– (think Trayvon Martin, think the things that have been said about and done, including by members of the United States Congress, in the direction of our own president, President Barack Obama, think economic and health and educational disparities in the US and think about a million other things). But if you are honest, you also see racism in every day life, coming at your child (think Student Council, think who is consistently touted as the best student in the class at school, who gets chosen for things– the lead in the play, the best poem or essay, etc., etc.). And then if you are white (which yes, I still am) you really have to start to look at and face your own racism which is harder to excavate honestly, but I do work at that too.
There should be posts about my own racism– what I have faced about how and where it is threaded into me as it is into all of us who are white, and about what I’ve done about it. But I don’t have the focus or courage to write about that publicly– not yet. For all of us, whether we are targeted by racism or members of the group that perpetuate racism, someone who has the gift to point honestly at racism and keep us laughing– has a goldmine of a gift. A black man who would bother to talk to us about these things and let us laugh at ourselves (if we’re white) along with him, someone who is black and who says “Ok, let’s take an honest look. Ok, now laugh really, really hard. Now let’s go back and take another honest look, a little longer this time, …now laugh some more”– That is someone who is going to help lead us out of this mess we’re in and to a world which we will someday have, without racism. He also does equally beautiful and hilarious work on sexism and tackles in some way, what it takes for men to face sexism honestly.
W. Kamau Bell is certainly that someone. He stands on the shoulders of other black comics and artists who have been so very important for all of us, but I’ve been looking to him lately. And you should too.