One of the first conversations I had about race happened when I was 13 and in the 8th grade at Walnut Hills High School. One of my classmates was agonizing about the frizz in her hair to a bunch of us girls. It was a mixed group in Mr. Volz' art class. Her hair was red. You know, orange red. Bright red. She was Jewish, which in my world, back in the day, meant she was white.
I had yet to discover that there is a big, big difference between Jews and white people.
She had the same problems with her hair that we black girls did except she didn't know about straightening combs. Nobody permed in those days either. So being the good friends that we were, and we were friends, we, meaning the Black contingent in the room, decided to teach her how to iron her hair. That's what white girls used to do to get the kink out of their locks. They got an ironing board or placed a towel on a counter and took the iron and literally pretended their hair was a blouse.
They ironed it.
Well, suffice to say the ironing went well. However, it was during the teaching phase that things went off target because as we were bonding around our hair, the topic turned to race.
Girlfriend thought and actually said that we, meaning Black folk, helped white people because we love them so much. We emulate them and want to be like them and that is the reason we get along so famously.
Now understand that was back in the day when white people thought all darkies really missed being slaves and spent our lives trying to recreate the Gone With the Wind saga as if it really used to be like that.
She was serious. She actually believed the utopian bullshit coming out of her mouth. She and all other white/Jewish kids/non-Negro kids had been raised to believe the white superiority-happy slave myth.
She really said it while one of us was holding a hot iron near her silly head. Typical white girl...walking stupidly into the dark while the nut from Psycho was waiting around the corner with a butcher knife dressed like his dead mother.
Now, us being Walnut Hills students, and considered the most civilized in the Cincinnati Public School District, after making silent tribal eye contact, decided to patiently educate our classmate, rather than whup her ass. After all Black history was not a part of the curriculum, especially coming from our point of view.
After patiently explaining and the rest of them patiently listening, Carrot top sitting there with her newly transformed kinks to silky straight looks, said and I quote,
“But you mean you people, don't like white people? You hate us?” she said with a horrified look on her face.
Since it was back in the day, the phrase “Bitch what was your first clue?” was not uttered. I politely said instead..
“We don't hate you. But we don't like you as a people.” At which point the bell rang signaling time to go to class.
For awhile following the revelation, we weren't friends. She was scared. We didn't give a damn having lived with the truth all of our lives. But things finally got back to normal, just with a bit more clarity. They, meaning the white girls, came back to us, as if the conversation never happened.
Nearly 50 years later, we're still friends.
Long story trying to figure out what the hell is going on in Arizona. Now Governor Jan has signed a bill that makes it illegal to teach any class that promotes “ethnic solidarity.” You can read it here. This comes after all the negative reaction to her big anti immigration bill from two weeks ago.
The right wing nuts have found out that the rest of the world doesn't like them or their actions. So now they have decided to retaliate instead of seek reconciliation. In other words, they're not ready to come back yet.
Happy Coexistence is not part of the plan, apparently. But then it never is when white folks realize that we don't really like them. But usually, they are the ones acting out and Arizona is a classic example. White flight is off the table, because we, meaning brown/black people are everywhere. They've got nowhere to run, anymore. Lynching is not illegal in America, but it is severely frowned upon, so now they pass laws to keep us in our place...in this case....out of Arizona altogether...they've made it illegal to cross the border...any of the borders if you're not legally in America. Co exist equally? Hell No!
You can't even drive through Arizona now with that bill on the books without your drivers license or papers in your pocket.
This new bill outlaws Hispanic history, Civil rights history, African American studies and how about German studies? How about Irish clog dancing classes?
Is it okay to learn to speak Japanese in Arizona, now? What are they going to do....go on the Res and drive out the Native Americans or ban Pow-wows? Can't think of any stronger ethnic solidarity than a Native American reservation. Re-enacting Wounded Knee might prove problematic this time around.
They could get out of this mess, by outlawing all gerrymandered Texas history books and mandating that all history be taught in the same class at the same time, as it really happened. But somehow I don't think that's going to occur.
Time is on our side, however. Arizona will come back, eventually. Just like my girlfriends from long ago. No apologies necessary.
We will wait for you to come to your senses.....