Friday, September 21, 2007

"You're acting white."

Yesterday the Reverend Jesse Jackson accused Barack Obama of "acting white." Jackson's statement is one of the most racist I've heard in some time. Do all white people act alike? And what is acting white? Does it mean that if you're white you have a certain antipathy for other colors? Moreover, when will people be allowed to say, "You're acting Arab." "You're acting Jewish." "You're acting Eye-talian." And how far is that from simply cursing, "Whitey." "Arab." "Jew." "Dago." "Nigger."

Jackson, who once supported the virulent racist Louis Farrakhan and who once referred to New York City as "Hymie-town," has once again shown himself to be a racist. The fact that no one has even noticed Jackson's slur means that we have failed to pay attention to language and how the ill-intentioned can use it perniciously.


James C. Collier said...

Check out for more discussion.

geo said...

Thanks, James. I've checked it out and will continue to do so. I, too, am puzzled by the question you pose in the subhead of your blog. As a Jewish person, my parents always made sure we were quiet, well-dressed and upstanding, lest some racists call us "dirty, noisy, pushy Jews." Maybe that wasn't "fair."

What's especially surprising is isn't Jesse Jackson the person who said when he saw black kids at night on a city street he felt threatened and would cross over to the other side of the block? What if they acted white?

Years ago when I lived in Chicago, there was a street gang called the Latin Eagles. They graffitied their name everywhere. Someone claimed that they saw one instance where someone has graffitied the graffiti and changed Latin Eagles to Eaten Bagles. Maybe this is racist, but I'd feel much more threatened by the former than the later.

Sarah said...

they tried to sell us egg foo young