What I am going to mention…is a trend I noticed in 2011 that I’m hoping will be over for 2012. For lack of a better term, I’m going to call it Black People* As Objects. To be more precise, I’m talking about Black people as objects of ridicule, scorn, fear, study, charity, validation, and so on. From that ridiculous article in Psychology Today about Black women being “objectively” less attractive than women of other races to pretty much anything that comes from the mouth of a GOP candidate about Black folks, it seems that a lot of people who are not Black have a lot to say about what the lives and actions of Black people are supposed to mean. Essentially attempting to probe and prod us like lab animals. Which could almost not be racist if said individuals, I dunno, bothered to actually have a conversation with Black people (as in Black persons, not Black People (TM)) where they sought to truly understand and relate to us as persons and not as objects or symbols.
I don’t put a lot of stock into new year’s resolutions, but if I were to make one for myself, I’d say that 2012 is the Year of Black People as Subjects — subjects who live their own lives, have their own reasons for doing things, experience their own trials and triumphs, construct their own meanings, have their own thoughts and feelings as beliefs, and so on. The challenge for 2012 will be focusing my energy on those who are capable of talking to and talking with Black people and not talking at, talking for, or talking about us. From now on, I’m only going to get involved with discussions that involve Black people only when I can see that the discussion is framed around Black people as subjects. If that is not the case, I’m generally going to ignore it or poke fun at it. Maybe even link to this post, if I’m feeling generous.
The rule of thumb is this: if the discussion is about Black people or people of color, and not by Black people or people of color, it should ask Black people or people of color for their input. Not to debate or otherwise argue about basic shit (like whether racism is real in theatre or anywhere else), but to more fully understand something from the perspective of those who have to live with it.