MARLOWE CRIBBS: Known Racist
A few days ago, I was told that I was accused of being a bit racist in my views. During a normal conversation, I inadvertently said something that was on the fence between politically incorrect and slightly offensive. I denied the accusation and defended my position. The next few days following the conversation, I pondered the comments and my attitude in general. I actually don’t think about people in terms of color –until they do something that reminds me that prejudice is alive and well.
Perhaps I am a bit critical of White people. Maybe I can be a bit overly-sensitive in my perception of interactions. I probably can be a bit over-the-top in my criticism of some of the practices and actions of my Caucasian counterparts. This is probably the point where I am to either defend my position or vehemently deny such feelings. I would love to conclude that I am not a racist – but I can’t.
As a child (as far back as the 2nd Grade), there were some television programs hailed as perennial favorites:
“Gone With The Wind”
“The Wizard Of Oz”
“The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe”
and all of the Peanuts Gang Holiday Specials.
These were the programs that we were encouraged to watch. There was one, however, that drew particular interest and teachers even gave out extra points for students who watched it. “Alex Haley’s Roots” a special week-long event that chronicled the Haley family from Africa through American slavery’s end.
Every day, the teachers, the parents, the neighbors, the mailman, the lunch lady….everybody would ask: “Did you watch Roots last night?” its graphic (for the time) and in-depth depiction of the abuses of slavery were gut-wrenching at best.
Here is a shocking revelation — I never watched it. I preferred the pleasant tunes of Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street to the dreadful screams of beatings and family-splitting. I didn’t need Alex to tell me how bad things had been for African Americans. I had my parents and family for that.
As the youngest child, I was often taken to functions that the older children could easily get out of. My Dad and I would visit my Aunts (4 of them) and they would regail me with stories of how things used to be (like bread for a quarter). They also told me that my standard of living, and freedoms didn’t come cheap. Many people paid a terrible price for the things I enjoyed like: Education, equality and fair housing.
I was a captive audience as they shared their personal experiences. My Father and my Aunt Bret (both of whom made a good living in real estate) would warn me that money and success don’t influence prejudice. I learned about how mean and treacherous white people could be.
This was enough to cement my views early on. In a world where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X held prominent positions on the walls of every home and Rosa Parks was the first person you mentioned when you spoke of heroes, I was to “never forget” the lunch counter sit-ins and fire hosing that were part of the struggle.
Maybe I can also blame CBS for my satiated views. After all, I thoroughly enjoyed the bantering of Archie Bunker, who verified what my father thought white people said behind closed doors, and George Jefferson, who verified what my father actually said behind closed doors. They used words that are now politically incorrect, but were at least truthful. I always did respect a person who said what they meant. Was I also romanced by the subtle messages of a benevolent white savior rescuing two hopeless black youths from utter poverty? Yeah that was basically the premise of “Different Strokes” if I see it through the eyes of black oppression. Especially during a pro “Roots” era.
However, terrible the injustices against blacks were, they pale in comparison to some of the injustices I have faced at the hands of blacks. I know that some white people hate me because of the color of my skin. Why is it that I feel that same intolerance from people who share my melanin count?
Auschwitz bonded the Jews together. Apartheid brought South Africans together. Heck, every other race is brought together by their common struggle…except blacks.
I like scones, documentaries and classic car shows. I cheer for NBA and NFL teams, but I bust a gut over the NHL and NASCAR. Why do I get strange looks from my people for preferring Jimmie Johnson over Michael Jordan when it comes to sports. Do I think I’m better than most blacks or think I am white? No! I know better.
I am an outcast from my own because I look down on certain things that are considered the norm for blacks. I am not allowed to mingle in certain circles because the things I may enjoy have a silent rule that blacks aren’t allowed in those circles.
I guess I am a racist because I see disenfranchisement and discrimination from whites and call it out.
I guess I am a racist because I dismiss ignorant behavior and refuse to join the gathering throngs that perpetuate the negative stereotypes that cause the discrimination in the first place.
I guess I am a racist because I detest people who live, speak and act in a manner that causes the evil powerbrokers of this country to type-cast anyone that resembles me as less than a 2nd Class citizen.
I guess I am a racist because I see modern day segregation. It’s more subtle and swims just below the surface.
I guess it is true. I use slurs when I am angered and express why racial stereotypes exist when people live up to them. On the other hand, I don’t mistreat people just because of their race. I will not tolerate inequality from anyone.
I guess I am a racist. Let it be a secret no more: Marlowe Cribbs is a known racist. Seems as if I hate everybody that hates me.