Liberty Bell Center
Whispering Bells of Freedom in honor of Crispus Attucks
Whispering Bells Plaque
When I wrote “I’m Black and I forgive Paula Deen” I was hoping to start a conversation about the state of race in America using Paula Deen’s mess as a jumping off point. Judging by the comments on Salon it looks like it worked. I haven’t jumped into the fray of online comments, but to those who said I should read the deposition, I did. I try to be as informed and educated about a subject as possible before reaching an opinion. Mine, was based on Deen’s deposition (all 150 pages of it), her public persona and my personal experience with racism in this country.
But I think my main point was missed by many. What Paula Deen says, said or didn’t say really doesn’t affect my life, but decisions by the Supreme Court do. The fact that the national media has been able to make such a big deal over the racist epithet she admitted to saying 30 years ago (not the actual point of the lawsuit which is about a hostile workplace) demonstrates that we are not a post-racial society. Race or ethnicity is still the biggest factor when it come to discrimination today. According to the EEOC the most discrimination complaints filed fall under the categories that define race, (over 47% of the charges).
So while the Supreme Court takes a step forward in guaranteeing that all Americans are treated the same with its rejection of DOMA as unconstitutional, it took one back when it killed the heart of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Already Texas has said it will move forward with its law requiring photo I.D. to vote and changing the district lines so as to limit the power of the Hispanic voting majority. It’s just a matter of time before other states follow suit. The same qualifying tests that kept minorities from voting during Jim Crow will be able to be passed without federal supervision. Redistricting will allow those in power to stay in power, and the disenfranchised to remain without a voice. I had hoped we had moved beyond this as a country, but Texas’s actions prove that SCOTUS is out of touch with reality.
Wednesday the Chicago Tribune, along with many other media outlets, reported that a contestant from the CBS show “Big Brother” was being dropped by her modeling agency due to racist and homophobic comments she made on the subscription only “Big Brother” Live Feed. Apparently, 22 year old Aaryn Gries thought it was just fine to say, “that Helen, who is Asian American, should ‘shut up and go make some rice’ and that ‘she is the first Asian I know who doesn’t do nails.’ She also called Andy, who is gay, a ‘queer,’ and said that Candice and Howard, who are black, would naturally stick together ‘because of the black thing.’ She also said people should be careful what they say about Candice when the lights are out because ‘you might not be able to see that bitch.'” What?!
Is this the country that the Justices claim is no longer divided along race lines? Obviously they are not living in the same country as I am. I’m no less surprised to know that this young lady thinks these things than I was to hear that Deen used the N-word three decades ago. The country has made great strides forward in improving race relations, but it still has an awful long way to go. Not too long ago, no one would dare to utter such ignorantly bigoted words on a broadcast where anyone and everyone could hear. But it seems that Gries, a Texan (am I seeing a theme?) didn’t see anything wrong with it.
But wait, that’s not all. Another contestant on the same show, Ginamarie Zimmerman has lost her job with the East Coast USA Pageant after calling welfare “N—– insurance” on Big Brother’s live feed. Sure SCOTUS, the country isn’t divided along racial lines at all, it’s just a thing of the past – NOT.
Big Brother is the worst kind of reality show, one that makes abhorrent behavior profitable and seemingly innocuous. But it isn’t innocuous, it’s hate speech plain and simple. And it doesn’t stop with racist remarks. No, the Big Brother house has some homophobes too.
Andy Herren, the openly gay contestant this season has been the recipient of some hate also, being called “f-g” by more than one of the housemates.
And what is CBS doing about this? Not a thing it seems. They’ve issued a statement saying that these views aren’t theirs and they obviously don’t condone them. But I guess since the contestants are still in the house, CBS and the Big Brother producers aren’t too sorry about portraying Americans as rude, ignorant racists and homophobic bigots.
So this is my question to you: Is America becoming more divided (by race, religion, political party, sexuality etc.) or is SCOTUS right, and laws that protect minorities’ rights are no longer necessary because we are all one big happy country?