1-800-Ask-A-Brother (Part 2)

***CONTINUATION FROM THE PREVIOUS POST***

Example #4:

When Rush Limbaugh speaks, a certain demographic listens and picks up on what he’s saying.

When Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN) told Chairman Michael Steele at CPAC that “You Da Man”, it sounded very disingenuous to me because it doesn’t fit, plus it’s how she said it. It’s not because of race, because I’ve heard guys who use more slang than the hardest, thuggish guy ‘in the hood’.

The New York Post publishes a controversial cartoon and some don’t understand why many Blacks were offended by it. I can guarantee that there wasn’t one Black or Latino on the editorial board. That wouldn’t have gotten out if there was.

The Complaint

The complaint from many Whites and a few conservative Blacks who says that everything isn’t racial is a fair complaint, but not exactly true.

Some things said are not meant to be racial, but have serious racial implications to it that the person speaking may not understand due to their lack of socialization or cultural awareness. Some people are hyper-sensitive and are unwilling to take the time to understand the context or even explain to the person why what they have said or written is offensive. You shouldn’t just immediately blame there person for their ignorance if they do not have a history of it.

Example, Don Imas knew what he was doing and saying when he commented on the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team. There are some who have a history of saying and doing offensive things and they know exactly what they’re doing and deserve the criticism.

Of course I’m being a little silly with the whole “1-800-Ask A Brother Translation Service” thing, because I’m using humor to help explain something that divides us.

The Symptoms

We are seeing many people come out of the woodworks saying some very ignorant and mostly racially tinged things. Many of them do not understand the harm in what they’re saying, because they are culturally unaware or it’s socially accepted where they’re from. Many people suffer from what I call “My Best Friend is Black” syndrome. This spans beyond the Black & White communities and goes into other communities. I can’t say that something bad about Jews and then say, “I didn’t mean it, I’m not racist. One of my best friends is a Jew.” That would be stupid and would mean that I would need to not only apologize to the Jewish Community, but to my friend for offending him. Saying something racially ignorant doesn’t always mean that you’re a racist. It does signal a deficiency in your understanding and awareness towards the offended race or group.

Example #5:

We often hear Christians say some very cruel things about our fellow neighbors who are gay or lesbian. It goes directly against “Love Thy Neighbor”, but I’ll get into that another day. Many see no problem with bashing and often demonstrating hate, which if you didn’t already know this is the opposite of Love, the greatest commandment. How is being racially unaware or discourteous any different from using coded language towards homosexuality? But it’s accepted and preached in pulpits every week. BUT let me pull up on that one, because I don’t want to give away an upcoming post.

Example #6:

Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. says on FOX News to another guest who is Black that “he wishes he could cut Obama’s balls off” all because he believed he was talking publicly down on Black people when he gave his Fatherhood speech. Now that outrage was deserved, because he clearly understood what he was saying and the history behind that threat towards Black men. But many people outside of the Black community thought it was shameful, but didn’t understand why some people were so upset with Rev. Jackson for those comments.

It’s not just White men that say crazy things, because I can point out recently a Black man by the name of Michael Steele saying to the only Indian American Governor that he was giving his “Slum Love” to him. That was offensive, but the media says little about it because they don’t know how to approach it. Black Man, Indian-American, two Republicans, both firsts and pioneers in their own right, how to you criticize that. I guarantee that there wasn’t one person of color making the decision in the news rooms to go with that story or not. So they played it safe and let it die.

Final Example:

A New York City bakery store owner that made the “Drunken Negro Face” cookies said that he didn’t see the problem with selling the cookie because his brother-in-law was Cuban. He’s clueless and suffers from the “My Best Friend is Black” syndrome. If he just ‘asks a brother’ perhaps he could have saved himself some heartache.

The Solution

If you do not know how something would be interpreted, just ask. Ask someone who you know has some cultural sensibilities to them and will be honest with you. Listen to them and learn from them. When I’m asked a sincere question concerning race I try to give a very fair answer. I have been offended on occasions, but I let it pass until it becomes a pattern.

That’s my best and honest advice to you. If you’re unsure just call 1-800-Ask A Brother.

References & Inspirations
Politico – 03/03/09 “Blacks, Whites Hear Obama Differently
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10 thoughts on “1-800-Ask-A-Brother (Part 2)

  1. Love the title. If I became your counterpoint, would it be called “Ask Whitey?” 🙂 No! “Crackers and Whine!”

    I think the reason what you’ve written succeeds is because it has been filtered through Tim’s genuine interest in loving people and wanting the world to be better.

    Unfettered love is the thing that I think helps race, color, whatever diversity, not be a stumbling block in my communication. I really enjoy the company of creative and good-hearted people. That’s my standard, genuinely. And lo and behold, I seem to attract that.

    That said, I read a joke the other day that the Republican party had outsourced its leadership to Bobby Jindal. I squirmed. That’s not funny because Jindal is American. To me, the pause to have to reason why it wasn’t funny, was funny.

    On a bus the other day at the school I work for, two black girls were playfully arguing over who would sit by the window. One girl surrendered, but not without getting in, “Okay, fine, Rosa Parks.”

    I laughed at that one. Hard. Part of the laughter was because I know the nature of both girls. They banter constantly. And the banter always ends in a win-win situation. Fine you win the window, but I win the comedy contest.

    The other part of the laughter came from living in a world where two girls can be so happy and carefree.

    I wonder if they wondered why Ms. King thought that was so funny.

    1. The title comes from something I said to someone years ago after I fixed a problem they had with their computer. I told them if it happen again or if they didn’t understand something about the application to just call 1-800-Ask-A-Brother. I have no problems answering any question that I have some knowledge on. In that case it involved Microsoft Access, but my interests goes beyond databases. 🙂

      Now I would never use the word “Whitey”, even if I knew it was OK. It’s just not me to say that, but I understand you.

      The ‘Rosa Parks’ comment was funny. It’s good that they knew who she was at such a young age. I know people in their 30’s that know very little about history.

      I get the Jindal joke, but I would have told them to just draw a picture of a monkey getting shot in the street next time to get the point across that saying the RNC is outsourcing it’s leadership to Bobby Jindal can be interpreted as offensive just like a NY Post cartoon.

      Well I guess I got to send you another check. Um… the check is in the mail. You should get it tomorrow. 😀 Thanks again. I appreciate your comments and welcome your insight anytime.

    2. The title comes from something I said to someone years ago after I fixed a problem they had with their computer. I told them if it happen again or if they didn’t understand something about the application to just call 1-800-Ask-A-Brother. I have no problems answering any question that I have some knowledge on. In that case it involved Microsoft Access, but my interests goes beyond databases. 🙂

      Now I would never use the word “Whitey”, even if I knew it was OK. It’s just not me to say that, but I understand you.

      The ‘Rosa Parks’ comment was funny. It’s good that they knew who she was at such a young age. I know people in their 30’s that know very little about history.

      I get the Jindal joke, but I would have told them to just draw a picture of a monkey getting shot in the street next time to get the point across that saying the RNC is outsourcing it’s leadership to Bobby Jindal can be interpreted as offensive just like a NY Post cartoon.

      Well I guess I got to send you another check. Um… the check is in the mail. You should get it tomorrow. 😀 Thanks again. I appreciate your comments and welcome your insight anytime.

  2. Tim,

    This two part post is wonderfully written. You have a way of saying things in a way most cannot…including myself.

    The way that most have misunderstood our president, at times…is mindboggling. Of course, this does not include the nonesense that comes from the mouth of Rush Limbaugh.

    Can you imagine if someone would have “challenged” former Pres Bush to a debate that was a radio talk show host?! The RNC would have wet their collective pants, while foaming at the mouth with shouts of disdain and outrage.

    This two part post was another of your writings that I forwarded to several former colleagues that are yet serving overseas. Both Tom and I are always eager for your next post.

    Kindest Regards,

    Michelle

    1. WOW! Well thank you. I greatly appreciate the time you’ve taken to read my blog. I honestly strive not to blog about trivial things, although I do not always succeed. I do like to be silly at times. The post that’s coming up next week is a sneak peak of something that I’ve been wanting to write in detail for awhile. I modified it dramatically for here, but it gives a glimpse into something I personally would like to write called “The Standard of the Man”.

      Please tell your friends and former colleagues to comment. I would love to know what they may have to say. If they’re your former colleagues I’m sure they’re just as smart as you. Thanks for the compliments. ‘The check is in the mail’ 🙂

    2. WOW! Well thank you. I greatly appreciate the time you’ve taken to read my blog. I honestly strive not to blog about trivial things, although I do not always succeed. I do like to be silly at times. The post that’s coming up next week is a sneak peak of something that I’ve been wanting to write in detail for awhile. I modified it dramatically for here, but it gives a glimpse into something I personally would like to write called “The Standard of the Man”.

      Please tell your friends and former colleagues to comment. I would love to know what they may have to say. If they’re your former colleagues I’m sure they’re just as smart as you. Thanks for the compliments. ‘The check is in the mail’ 🙂

  3. There. I’ve just promoted you on facebook. All my friends are either journos, PR, or news junkies or the youth of America (my kids and their friends).

    You might try the “Create a Profile Badge” on the bottom right side of your profile page on facebook. You can put it here on wordpress with a widget.

  4. Great Blog. You make excellent points,

    Your last one on if you do not know how it is going to be interpreted, is a great point. I will go one step further,
    If you do not know how some “Joke” or “Innocent Comment” is going to be
    interpreted, Do Not say it.

    I learned that the hard way by doing something stupid and lost a very good friend. I was a Teen back then and that is still no excuse, For The New York Post or Rush Limbaugh to say something that is a “joke” is inexcusable.

  5. Nice post. I like your repudiation of the “I have a friend” excuse. A different form of that is when politicians disgraced by sex scandals bring their wives out next to them and say, “I have always tried to be faithful to my family.” A lot of ignorance and misunderstanding could be overcome if people were to think before they speak, engage with others before they enrage others, and approach people with an open heart rather than a closed mind.

    1. Thanks. I was being a little silly with the title, but you are correct. I’ve heard people of various backgrounds use the excuse of I have a friend who is ______. If they were your friend you wouldn’t categorize them like that.

      Well I’m coming with something more political very very soon. This was just on my mind.

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