Every time I think he can’t stoop any lower, the Reverend Al Sharpton shows me how wrong I am. Why is it that white America has to have a symbolic racial redeemer for their overt sins of racism when they become public? If someone publically offends a Jew, they bring out the Jewish redeemer. If they offend an Arab, they roll-out the Arab redeemer and so on and so on. It is as if this redeemer will provide them with a collective act of contrition and then we can all go back to being friends again, until the next “slip of the tongue”. For the black community, the self-appointed and media accepted redeemers are the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton.
My question is who in the black community appointed either one of these gentlemen to these roles? Was there a referendum that I missed or some memo that I failed to open or what? It is precisely because of these two and those “so-called leaders” that the state of racial conversation in this country has not progressed past Dr. King. There has been no one articulate enough, not for whites, but someone who could communicate the black experience in any meaningful way for blacks. The black experience in this country has changed so much and now is so diverse that it is ridiculous for anyone to promote a single person as speaking for an entire race of people. Even when Dr. King was alive, there were other voices articulating the diversity that is our community.
The latest racist needing redemption and confessional time from the good Reverend is Duane "Dog" Chapman, a minor celebrity who has parlayed a grimy career in the bounty hunter business into a “reality show” on the A&E network. It seems that the “Dog” was very upset with his son for dating a black woman and had a few choice words for him in that regard. In a racially charged tirade Mr. Chapman let his displeasure be known. In a story that was broken by the National Enquirer, that’s right, the conversation was posted on line at their website. It seems Mr. Chapman thought his son’s girlfriend was trying to record him using the N-word and it turns out his son was the culprit. Kids, huh!
DUANE “DOG” CHAPMAN is the latest celebrity begging for forgiveness and promising to meet with “black leaders” to “make things right again” for using a racial slur during a taped private conversation with his son that was later leaked to the National Enquirer. The star of A&E’s “Dog the Bounty Hunter” issued a statement the other day apologizing for using the n-word in reference to his son’s girlfriend, who is black. Apologizing, Chapman insists the clip, posted on the Enquirer’s Web site, was taken out of context.
Now here is where the story gets crazy, Mr. Chapman has asked Al Sharpton for help in rehabilitating his image, aka Don Imus, Bill O’Reilly, and whoever else feels compelled to voice their true racial feelings publically and then need to institute damage control. To me this is what has to change for any meaningful conversations about race in this country to take place, the practice of honesty followed by denial. If these are your true feelings be man enough to state them and stand behind them. As long as we continue to pretend that there is racial harmony and tolerance when we know there isn’t we will never get past the hypocrisy.
This blanket immunity and forgiveness bestowed by Jesse or Al must stop. How any self-respecting black man, let alone a “preacher” could allow himself to be compromised by these self-gratifying displays of remorse are beyond my comprehension. How arrogant and presumptuous of them to think they can assuage the outrage of a race of people by “counseling” the offender for a small fee is insulting to all blacks.
The issue here for me is the not the use of the N-word by a bigot who obviously uses it with great regularity or the fact that he feels compelled to do so, to me he is at least being honest. What bothers me more is the dishonesty of these two “so-called” black leaders continued self-aggrandizement at the expense of the rest of us. We cannot afford to have the establishment and the media define for us who will represent our outrage or who will lead us. We should collectively begin a writing campaign to CNN, NY Times, and all of the other media outlets who continue to use these charlatans as spokespersons. As long as we passively accept the de facto arrangement it will continue and these two will continue to line their pockets at the expense of any real progress in racial matters.
Does it bother me that another white man in the public eye has found it necessary to use the N-word? Of course it does, but what bothers me more is when I am walking, standing, or riding on the bus and hear other young black men shouting it out to each other. I may be a dreamer, but I believe that if we had had any true leadership on a national level a lot of these conversations wouldn’t even be taking place. That hopefully we would have begun the long overdue national conversation about race and would have made some progress or at least come to some sort of truce. Instead we are left with the remnants of days gone by and the old reliable: I make racial slurs, but I am not a racist argument. I understand the lines of racial tolerance and sensitivity are forever shifting. What was acceptable yesterday is not today. Sort of like the dilemma of how blacks want to be referred to: black, African-American, or what.
Without communication on a national level by those who are willing to be honest and not looking for self promotion, we will have little chance of making any inroads into this issue. An issue that in itself is an enigma, while most blacks think it is an important issue in everyday life, most whites think the opposite. So enough of the racist redeemers and let’s have a real conversation.