Wednesday, March 09, 2016


In Sunday's Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, aired by CNN, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were asked this question by American journalist and television news anchor Don Lemon:
"I want to ask both of you this question. I appreciate you responding to that question, but I want to ask both of you again. In a speech about policing, the FBI director James Comey borrowed a phrase from the Broadway show Avenue Q, saying, "Everyone is a little bit racist." What racial blind spot do you have? Secretary Clinton, you first."

I read Charles Pierce's piece on this, along with always good commentary at his website, then began to ask myself the same question.

Actually, I asked myself a two-part question

#1 What blind spot do I have regarding my native Britishness while trying to understand the way of life in the USA.

#2 What racial blind spot do I have, bearing in mind my own Anglo-Saxon ethnicity.

Trying not to sidestep both by saying a blind spot is a blind spot is a blind spot, so I can't see it, I tried to come up with something. It's a difficult question to answer.

#1 = I have a blind spot in the USA in not being able to understand why so many people here vote against their best interest, and why, oh why they had not risen up and demanded a national health care system for all, long before now. My blind spot remains blind because I don't have a long background of political experience here.

#2 = I have a blind spot as a British-born Anglo-Saxon person because I didn't live in the USA during the years of horrific segregation. Having read about it and heard about parts of it from my husband, I can only try to empathise and understand how African Americans felt. Those who did not experience segregation cannot possibly appreciate the true horror of it, and the scars it has inevitably left behind.

We can't help our ethnicity, our nationality, the colour of our skin, our gender, our varied cultures, they come with our human packaging as we plop into what becomes our stint on planet Earth. What we can help is not being alert and openly opposed to all kinds of discrimination related to any of those factors, from whatever source.

How would you answer Don Lemon's question?


mike said...

I'm having difficulty maintaining the electrons and internet connection here...massive rain and lightning-thunder intermittently. We'll see if I can comment without interruption.

Lemon's question is peculiar in that a blind-spot is inferred as unconscious and therefore not recognized. I'll admit to racial not-so-blind-spots, though I consider myself non-racial. My answer would actually apply to any race, but more so toward those of color. I've lived in some very large metropolitan areas and I've avoided those sections that are lower income, racially imbalanced populations, and essentially non-white. I assess this as a feeling of insecurity and potential lack of safety while in those areas, which are known to have a very high crime rate.

I'm prejudiced when it comes to individuals that are heavy on the gangsta-cholo-rap countenance to about the same degree I would be with the Hell's Angels, white-boy, motorcycle club. I avoid those individuals and groups that tend to have a criminal, bad-boy association, or any location with a prevalence of such.

I don't like being followed by ANYONE, but I'm particularly suspicious of the men wearing shorts with cuffs almost to their ankles and the belt-line at the butt-hole, or those appearing unkempt and scruffy with mega-tattoos, particularly the inking on the face and neck areas.

I'm Native American, yet I appear anglo, so I've not suffered any direct racial denigration in that regard. I have been the target of homophobia on a number of occasions. I was denigrated due to my low economic status as a child, with classmates, their parents, and random adults making snide comments about my clothing or my parents' status.

Regarding your comment that people vote against their best interests, I recognize the very same issue and I attribute that activity as either naivete or just plain stupid. I'd call it more of an observation rather than a blind-spot. I told you prior that a friend voted for little Bush, because Bush offered tax cuts...that was my friend's only criterion for his selection...selfish and ignorant. The same friend is voting for Trump this election cycle...WOW! For some individuals, it's a religious-evangelical connection. Who will do gawd's work? Others consider family values and conservative commitments, such as building giant walls along Mexico, denying gays, stopping abortion, etc. We live in an era of "if someone said it on Facebook, it must be true". Fact-checking is at an all-time low, yet we live in the internet era where information can be rapidly and readily verified. I've never been one to view the populace as innocent little creatures led astray by those devious, egregious politicians. Most people lack the fortitude to thoroughly vet their choice of politicians and those that do, select their choice based on similarities and they deserve what they get. Too bad that their choice often is the majority and drags me down with their victory.

mike (again) said...

P.S. - I don't find the UK to be that much different when it comes to "voting against their own interest". The USA had Reagan, the UK had Margaret Thatcher. The UK may have Jeremy Corbyn, but David Cameron is Prime Minister.

And back to subliminal racism, I become beleaguered when someone can't speak intelligibly:

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks for answering this impossibly awkward question. I guess our blind spots can really only be identified by another person. Don Lemon ought to have asked Clinton And Sanders to identify what they saw as each other's blind spots. :-)

Being unable to see my own racial blind spots ('cos I'm blind to 'em) I relied here rather on "things I don't understand" - not the same at all, but all I could come up with.

Maybe a blind spot of mine re USA/UK is what you've pointed out - that people vote against their best interest in both countries. It's more obvious to me here, mainly due to the health care issue.

I might have had more things to add, regarding subliminal racism if, like you, I lived in an urban area. Black folk we see around here tend to be just as overtly friendly and no different from the rest of the Okies. We still get a wave as we pass, or a "How y'all doin' "today?" The dreadful murder of a young Australian jogger a couple of years ago, by black youths, was a sad blot on our town's reputation though.

What has been bothering me lately, during this election season, is that black Americans seem to be becoming racist themselves against white people in general. There are reasons, of course : police murdering black youths; officials turning their blind eyes when water sources were being poisoned in a largely black area of Flint Michigan... reasons keep on coming.

Everyman Bob said...

My byline is close to Mike's regarding where I choose to go and with whom I choose to associate with.

I have been a caregiver since before I was teen-aged and never was race, gender, age, or past lifestyle, a consideration. If I recognized need and I could help I did and do. Not only have I helped some I have had time to become aware of being in need of a hand up, sometimes with just a short conversation, but total strangers about whom I knew nothing. I once split the breakfast I bought with the last money I had with a total stranger who asked me if I had any spare change as I was going to get that breakfast,

I have helped those who had, or tried, to hurt me, to the tune of hundreds of dollars, including an ex I discovered in a compromising position with another man.

Sometimes the help was/is physical, sometimes emotional (to some who were wealthy).

I like to think there are no strangers in my life.

Simple Bob said...

Should have added religion to the list of non-considerations, or better yet the truth -there have been no considerations.

Twilight said...

Everyman Bob & Simple Bob ~ That's truly admirable, Bob - thank you for your answer.
No blind spots there! Wonderful song too!

Vanilla Rose said...

I don't think I will ever understand why so many Americans resist the idea of an NHS-type system. Why they're so against it that they will even make up stuff (*cough* Sarah Palin *cough*). Or the love affair with guns.

I take consolation in knowing that some people born in the USA agree with me.

One of the things I find hardest to understand is the way politics can sound so tribal. Some conservatives sometimes act like they've never actually spoken to a liberal in their entire lives.

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~ Re NHS-type neither! We have to remember that in Britain we didn't suffer the scars left by McCarthyism, leading to a total distrust among many in the US of anything they see as socialist (aka, to them, as communist!) Many now do agree with you and me though - at least as far as extending the Medicare system, now in place for seniors to everyone.

As Sinatra used to sing - about something else - "It's such an ancient pitch...." all this tribalism. It always has been "us and them" and always will be I fear, until another "them" species, from another planet, decide to visit us. Then, and only then will we see that we Earthlings truly are all one. :-/