12 May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Political Theatre

Some of you may have heard about this incident in Martinsville, Virginia. A summary:

In a video posted to YouTube, students were describing the quilt when Councilwoman Sharon Brooks Hodge began expressing concerns about one particular square.

“The small black person represents us before we learned all the information about it, and then the bigger gold person is how he feels after we’ve been enriched with all the different knowledge,” a student says in the video.

Hodge replied: “Excuse me, why is the small black person the negative image?” When the student tried to explain, Hodge said, “I take offense to that.”

I heard the YouTube video on a podcast. The student was unable to explain because, clearly, no thought went into the color choices. The gang at TWIB (I can’t find the exact podcast) thought that the council woman was too hard on the student.

In the Roanoke Times, Wendy Kellam has a thoughtful piece on the incident. A nugget:

I don’t believe any of the students meant any malice in the presentation, but we can’t disregard the feelings of black people either. Our black children are sadly faced with negative stereotypes and oppositions from childhood.

We have to continuously reinforce to our children they are just as good as other races. But when our sons are of the age to drive, black parents have to inform them, by way of the dreaded conversation, what could happen to them if they are stopped by certain police officers. We have to tell our children the story of Emmett Till that happened in 1955. We have to explain to them in 2013 that what happened to Trayvon Martin could happen to them solely because of the color of their skin. Those two stories don’t even begin to scratch the surface of racism directed toward the black race, so I appreciate Hodge addressing the issue she had with the quilt.

One of my mother’s favorite terms, in criticizing my (and others’) behavior was “inconsiderate,” closely followed by “thoughtless.”

She could not abide behavior that did not anticipate its effects on others. She saw no excuse for it.

Those who argue, as many white folks are bound to do, that Not White folks should “just get over” it do two things:

  • They attempt to render their own history invisible, and
  • They are profoundly inconsiderate and thoughtless of the history of others.

I suspect that they are purposefully thoughtless and inconsiderate because they don’t want to think about and consider what their ancestors and perhaps even they have done (and, perhaps, continue to do).

Like my mother, I see no excuse for thoughtlessness and lack of consideration.

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