Monday, February 16, 2009

Nostalgic Racism

O.C. (who is no longer my mortal enemy, but I’ll blog about that later) came over to tell me that the customer that she was helping called her Buckwheat. Twice. I laughed; I shouldn’t have but I couldn’t help it. I mean, even if you are a bigoted ass who the hell says Buckwheat anymore? Are there people going around pining for the good ole days of racial slurs? We couldn’t figure out if she really meant it or if she had just been watching the Little Rascals movie and was perhaps a wee bit slow.

I’ve also been thinking about the Three-Fifths Compromise recently. I think it was a question on Jeopardy last week or something. The Three-Fifths Compromise came about when the Constitutional Convention was trying to figure out how many Congressmen each state would be able to send to the House of Representatives. The southern states said, “We want our slaves to be counted as part of the population.” And the northern states said, “You’re fucking kidding me, right?”

The Three-Fifths Compromise bothers me to no end. It is bad enough to look at a person and not see a person but see something so inferior to you that you consider it to be a possession more equal to your cow than to yourself. If you are looking at a person and not seeing their worth then there is hope that your perception can be altered, but if you’re looking at a person and seeing a person and are still treating them like livestock or a chair, well, where do you go with that? In this debate the southern states were pretty much acknowledging the humanity of those they were enslaving; no one has ever asked for representation for their cattle.

We don’t come from a happy sunshiny place of nobility and virtue. We come from a murky pond of suffering and good intentions, cruelty and bravery, accomplishments and mistakes, justice and spite. But, like our primordial ancestors, the important thing is that we continue to pull ourselves from the swamp.

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