Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What's Wrong with Elisabeth ?!?

Last week on The View, Elisabeth Hasselbeck started crying when the women discussed the use of the word "nigger." Apparently, she was confused as to how the word can be used and who can use it. When Whoopi Goldberg explained (yet again) that as a white person, she cannot acceptably use the word, Elisabeth became upset and started crying, babbling something about everyone living in the same world.

Here is my issue: After Whoopi said that we live in different worlds, who is Elisabeth to dismiss that and say that we live in the same world? I don't presume to speak for all black people as no one person can (for instance, I disagree with Whoopi's assessment that Blacks can use the word acceptably), but I believe most black people would agree that we do live in different worlds in America. They would agree that black people see the world through different eyes than white people. That's not to say that we have no similarities. At our core, regardless of culture or race, we want to be happy, we want the best for our families, we want connection with others. Even beyond the core, we can laugh at some of the same jokes, we can find the same people attractive, we share the same hobbies. But none of these things negates the fact that as a black person in America, one's experiences will be shaped and viewed differently from a white person's because he/she is black in America. And it is the height of arrogance to tell that person that his/her experience is not different! That is like a rich person telling a poor person that his life is no different or a thin person telling a fat person to stop imagining mistreatment. You can't tell another person what his/hers experience is!

The thing is, there cannot be a meeting of the minds or even the possibility that we can live in the same world as Elisabeth insists we already do, until everyone is willing to admit that people have different experiences and we all start to respect those experiences rather than trying to negate them.

If there's one thing black people have learned throughout history, shedding tears won't change things.

Note: Don't forget to check out Black in America tonight on CNN.

1 comment:

The Steel Magnolia said...

You said it. And here's another thing: This idea that people are "confused" about access to this word is ridiculous. Anybody who's watched "Good Times" or "The Jeffersons" knows that the word was in the mainstream media and popular culture long before rappers started spewing it in everybody's ears. Who was confused then? Even the idea that she doesn't know what to tell her children doesn't move me. Does she think that her daughter is going to be upset because she can't use that word? Doesn't she have a nanny and two parents in high-profile, highly paid positions? I think she'll get over it and her life will be okay. Perhaps she'll realize that having access to this one word won't turn her life into the mess that has befallen a shameful percentage of Americans. That she has access to many other privileges and positions that are truly life-altering and protective. That not everything has her name on it and that other people's pain belongs to them, not you.
For all of Elisabeth's talk about Hillary Clinton's "crocodile" tears, I'm having a hard time thinking that hers came from some sincere and beautiful place. I think that she was not making her point clearly, which is not unusual for her, and that she was being ideologically run over because of it. Any real compassion and insight in those tears would be out of line with most of her other comments in the last few years on this show. I totally agree that she was being arrogant. Again, that's typical for her. She chalks up most serious problems, especially about race, to the idea that "unfortunately, that's the way it is." Her only method for addressing anything, though, is for people to "just do it" like Nike, rather than address real complexities that would make her and most of the country uncomfortable. I could go on all day about the myriad ways in which she lacks insight, but it would make my fingers tired to type all of that.