Tea Time IV

We Shall Overcome

Oddly enough, when the Queen first heard about this story and saw the video, I was moved–not to anger by the almost jaw-dropping words of these two young girls, but to contemplation. Having worked with countless young people over the past 30+ years has given me a profound respect and objectivity towards newer generations. And, as an adult with some perspective, it is hard to take too seriously ravings that were poorly thought out, contradictory and punctuated by a lack of education.


What bothers the Queen the most about this story–and others like it–can be distilled into three points:

  • The girls are obviously parroting ideas and verbiage from someone else. Either consciously or unconsciously they are bombarded daily with intolerance as a cultural norm–more than likely in their homes. Are their guardians taking a long and painfully objective look at the environment that spawned such ideas, and doing their best to change it?
  • The inauguration of President Obama, to many people signaled the “end of racism.” To those of us who still have trouble hailing a cab, or are watched judiciously in a retail store by personnel, it was a giant leap forward–but by no means the endgame. Will we as a nation recognize that we are just at the beginning of a very long journey and move towards understanding together?
  • Until this video went viral, these obviously intelligent young ladies were blissfully unaware of the fact that words have power, and that thoughts are things. Are there any adults in their lives that will help them navigate through the maelstrom of negative attention and learn from their poor judgement and cultural ignorance?

It has been reported that the two girls in question have left Gainesville High School. If that’s true, it’s a shame. If their school is taking healthy steps to address teen’s understanding of the origins and effects of racism, such as Florida’s Eastside High, then I believe that the young ladies in question would truly be better served by an open, honest and respectful dialogue with their peers. I wish them the best. I really do.

What do y’all think Miss Things? Not so much about the actual video itself, but about how we as a society address racism in a post Obama nation?

Humble Majesty-Viola Davis

Viola Davis at the 15th Annual SAG Awards

And then there are people like this who make me so proud of who I am, and from whence I come. I feel very blessed to be in the same time and space as this incredible artist, and FIERCE black queen.


5 thoughts on “Tea Time IV

  1. In addition to society moving forward in addressing racism in a post-Obama era, it would be a great thing to see it move forward in addressing class as well. Both issues were clearly at play here. When the girls put forth the unfounded “facts” (like Santorum) that most people on welfare are blacks, that was racism, pure and simple. But when they were at pains to explain, “Hey, we’re not talking ALL blacks,” and that upper middle-class blacks who had houses as nice as theirs were, you know, just awesome, they were wandering into another territory. And they were expressing another dangerous idea that all too many Americans have, that one’s economic condition here is entirely a matter of choice, as if there are more than ample jobs, at a living wage, with affordable housing, healthcare, and education for anyone who isn’t just plain hopelessly dysfunctional or stupid.

    My son and I got into a long discussion the other day that included talking about the old New Deal Democratic Coalition forged by FDR and lasting until well into the sixties. And really, it was such a bunch of disparate groups united based on economic interests: farmers, city-dwellers, factory workers, union members, immigrant sons and daughters, Jews, Catholics, blacks, Southern whites (who were not JUST traditionally voting against the “party of Lincoln” but also greatly benefited from New Deal programs). A really unprecedented coalition in so many ways, and it is gone completely.

    It started unraveling in the sixties, of course, and by Reagan it was pretty much shot to hell, with each of the above groups increasingly voting their groups’ cultural wars interest rather than economics. And conservatives since then have been VERY successful in labeling any discussion of economic inequality (during a massive movement of money to fewer and fewer people and the stagnation of real wages) as “class warfare.” (And you gotta love Warren Buffet for his response to that accusation against him: Yes, it is class warfare, and my class is the one that declared it.) The glimmer of hope from OWS, I think, is that the long moratorium on discussing these things comes to an end. It’s time we did again.

    And I know this is pretty tangential to the original issue of racism. Often the two issues intersect, but often racism transcends class, as when you have trouble hailing a cab. But I’m hoping these girls learn the entirety of the lessons they should learn from this, and there is plenty in their rant that we as a society like to think we no longer have to talk about.

  2. First of all, in addition to thanking you for yet another thoughtful and insightful post, I also hope that your work load is diminishing!

    I absolutely agree that racism and classism intersect and are prevalent all through these girls’ diatribe. However, in this case I think they are combined and confused. One of these young ladies identifies as Cuban, and makes a clear and vehement distinction between these nationalities. Somewhere (and again, I think it was unconsciously perpetuated in her home) she has picked up the intra-racist belief that one is better than the other. I’ve had heard this in many conversations with Latinos. Mexicans and Dominicans become the “niggers” of their ethnicity. And just like any other minority in our polarized culture, having money makes you “white”, and therefore, better. I wonder if this experience will help this young lady understand how low her own racial self-esteem happens to be?

    I have been thinking a lot about the WPA lately. With his interest in FDR, and new-found vigor, I’m hoping that Obama re-opens discussions about just such a thing.

  3. I’m clinging to the hope that if (and I’m not optimistic, though the Republicans themselves seem to be trying to help – god bless ’em) – anyway – IF Obama gets a second term he’ll be bold. But I don’t think he’s going to go there in a big way before the election.

    Race & class in this country are confusing – I never realized quite how confusing till I took my kids & some family friend kids to visit the MLK home in Atlanta. I ended up talking to them at length [probably lecturing] about just that. ‘Cause this gaggle of kids, white & hispanic/mixed, all come (just 2 generations back) from people far, FAR inferior, in education, in prestige in their community and in material possessions, to the King family. And yet they had grown up thinking of MLK as both hero and representative from the downtrodden underclass – absolutely right, and yet, wrong.

    Nothing like trying to explain something to bright late elementary aged kids to illuminate lack of clarity.

    I can’t even begin to be succinct about race & class in the Hispanic/Latino community – I haven’t lived it any more than the African-American experience – but I’ve had a front row seat and it boggles. the. mind. When I married into the liberal-Democrat branch of a family of Dominican-Americans – the extended family incorporating a wide range of racial mix, politics, & income – the complexities of denial, bigotry, and the ability to hold several mutually contradictory opinions simultaneously opened up to me in way I’d never imagined.

    though they all pretty much unite in their joy in shredding Cuban-Americans 😉

  4. Oh, and Ms. Viola Davis’ wigs add 10 years to her appearance, IMO, but as much as I like her cropped, natural style better, I try not to rail about it. She dresses so well that she almost always is one of my red carpet favorites however she chooses to do her hair.

  5. As far as we have come as a society there is still an incredibly long way to go. When my nephew wanted to get married almost 10 years ago the priest made he and his fiancee do an additional year of pre-Canna counseling on top of the traditional six months simply because her family was from the Phillipines and our family immigrated here from Ireland over a hunded years ago. Consequently, my mother died and didn’t live to see her first grandchild married.

    As a society, we have so many problems but one thing that I am sure of is this: we are going to have to look for what we have in common if we are going to work together to solve the problems that facing each and every one of us. Opportunities need to be available to everybody and education is a good first step.

    Yes, Ms. Davis should burn those wigs. I saw better when my husband was going through stem cell transplantation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s