Saturday, February 17, 2007

Proving a Point

I really like the show Criminal Minds. It's got hot white guys, hot black guys, hot geeky guys, hot chicks, and Mandy Patinkin. What else could you need in a crime drama?

Last week's episode had a lot to do with race. At one point - and dramatically right before he was shot in a misguided vigilante act - one black cop asked another, "don't you wish it sometimes didn't matter?" To which the other cop replied, "It'll never happen, not in this world."

What I think the show was trying to prove was that it does matter. Sometimes superficially, sometimes to the core, but always. To proclaim that you don't see race is ludicrous.

And just today, my mother once again said exactly that. (Why she feels the need to convince her daughter she's not prejudiced is beyond me, but there you have it.) She was telling me about some shindig at church that's she's signed up to do with another woman, who she professes, "when I look at her, I don't see black. I just see Inez."

Now, let me tell you, in my whitebread hometown, this woman is very black. She's also beautiful, heavyset, tall, well-dressed, etc. But to pretend you don't notice how dark her skin is among all the lillies in the pews, well....

All of this leads me to a really interesting point I heard on, yes, NPR, this week. (click here for OnPoint archive). They were talking about Obama and whether or not he's "black enough." And one of the panelists made a remark to the point of,

"there are some people who are defined by race and determined by race. There are others who move beyond race. Or sex, or culture, or gender, or anything, for that matter. These are people who shine, who are luminant above and beyond mere categorizations. There is something about them that transcends the simple labels that our society feels the need to apply to the world."

I wanted to just shout at my mother. Tell her that you could be friends with Inez -- or anyone -- even though they're black. Or gay. Or a man or a woman. Or whatever. But don't ignore who or what they are. Just don't define them by it.

Because all of us should have the power to transcend.