Sunday, September 21, 2008

Writing while black

From The Field Negro this week, we learn the story of Fatimah Ali, a writer with the Philadelphia Daily News.

On September 2nd, Ms. Ali wrote a column titled We need Obama, not 4 more years of George Bush. In it she laid out the case that McCain and the Republicans will continue to deepen the divide between the haves and the have-nots in this country.

AMERICA is on the brink of a long, harsh and bitterly cold winter, with a looming recession that the GOP won't even admit to.

The policies of the current White House have brutalized our economy, yet the wealthiest think that everything is fine.

Rich Republicans just don't understand that millions are suffering. But many of their working class do, and they're beginning to abandon their own party.

After laying out the different economic focus of each candidate running for President, she says this.

If McCain wins, look for a full-fledged race and class war, fueled by a deflated and depressed country, soaring crime, homelessness - and hopelessness!

Plenty of Americans would rather stay in their dream state than to recognize the poverty sweeping across the country, right here, right now.

Matt Drudge picked up on the column and headlined his link "Philadelphia columnist warns if McCain wins, look for a full-fledged race war."

Of course he missed the whole point of her article and its focus on class instead of race. But his business is to inflame, not inform. And inflame he did. As a result of his headline, Ms. Ali was the recipient of all the hate Drudge knew he would stir up. She gives us a few of the more mild examples from the over 2000 she received in a follow-up column titled 'Race War' in America.

Pleeeeease bring it, we'll extinguish you.

I'd rather have an all out war than have [Obama] for president.

There will be race wars either way. Why? Because he's black.

I just realized after I saw your last name you're a damn rag head. You stupid S.O.B.'s want to take us back to the seventh century.

Syndicated talker Jim Quinn wondered if I'm some "liberal black Muslim" and (according to fumed, "Get an American name if you want to be an American."

What struck me about all this is not the awareness that outright bigotry is alive and well in this country. If we don't know that, we're living with our heads in the sand. And Matt Drudge is a magnet for folks like that.

I think about what it means to be a person of color - especially one with a non-western name - in this country, and the reality that at any moment, words that would be dismissed as harmless if spoken by a white person become grounds for this kind of attack. Just as young black men need to be wary about "driving while black," columnists like Fatimah Ali need to be aware of what it means to be "writing while black." That is as much the legacy of racism as the words/actions of ignorant bigots.

1 comment:

  1. Good morning Nancy,
    I was hoping to ask you something outside of the open blog comments. Would email be alright? If so you can email me and I can get back to you. If not, that's alright too :o)

    Michael (super)


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