Liberal self licking its wounds

Published 12:53 am Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A woman with bleached hair leaned toward the camera, a smile on her brown face. Her tank top, as Daddy would say, barely covered the subject.

She spoke in what I call bad English.

“Guess what people, I love President Obama,“ she said. “And guess what, I voted for President Obama. Yes I did.

“That’s right; I said it. I voted for him because he is black.”

She continued with how she and her seven children were going to “get me some healthcare. Sho nuff love it.” She said everyone needed to work to pay for her healthcare because she didn’t have a job. The video ended with her announcing that if you don’t like President Barack Obama, “you is a racist.”

I sat for a moment and then read comments posted under the video. Folks saying how people like her were the problem, how it was their tax money being wasted on “these kind of people.”

Oh a soapbox moment was coming, so I commented. I said the video was offensive, perpetuated stereotypes etc. I said we shouldn’t judge because had we come up in her situation, we might not act differently. Yes, I was in my best, “I am liberal, open-minded and so not a racist” identity.

Of course, that got comments about how she was an example of a mindset and it wasn’t judging because she put it out there first. In my best preachy fashion, I said it is hard to see common ground when someone seems so different.

In the midst of this, I saw a name under the picture on the link and decided to check it out. What I found made me rethink things and reconsider if I contribute to stereotypes and racism even though I think I don’t.

The woman, the one who looked like a “welfare” mother looks is a comedian who has a degree in musical theater from the University of Florida. She doesn’t have seven children in need of healthcare and she has a job.

I guess the clip was supposed to be satire or sarcasm or maybe just comedy. Not too many people seemed to be taking it that way, including me.

Here I was ready to defend the downtrodden, to be a champion of being nonjudgmental. I was ready to point my self-righteous finger at “those” people judging and condemning this woman — this poor woman who obviously didn’t know any better.

That is when something rubbed up against my pious opinions and made me a bit uncomfortable. What hit me was how ready I was to accept the picture of a black person celebrating the idea of getting a free ride from President Obama’s election.

Oh, I had excuses for why and was ready with my forgiveness of ignorance, but I was as guilty of accepting that this person, because of her race, acted a certain way. I didn’t see comedy or satire. I saw a black person and immediately accepted her as a welfare mother, even though I protested that not everyone benefiting from government programs is black.

Had the person in the video been white — would I have believed it was real or would I have immediately questioned it? I don’t know the answer.

What I do know is we have come a long way from days when water fountains had white only signs. I also know, based on my own reaction, that we still have a way to go — and it isn’t just about skin color.

It is about how we separate ourselves into groups and then judge each other by our differences. We are so deeply entrenched in our opinions that we can’t or don’t allow any space for considering that we might not see the whole picture.

I still think the video was more offensive than funny, but I appreciate what it taught me about my own prejudices — even if my liberal self’s ego is still licking wounds left by the lesson.