Friday, March 14, 2008

Racism, Redefined

One bonus to being chauffeured everywhere is that I'm spending a lot more time with DD#1. Her car is small and, because she is the driver, she controls the radio station we listen to (family rule). So one of the morning DJs brings up Geraldine Ferraro's comment about Barack Obama.

Now DD#1 is too young to remember Ms. Ferraro and her place in history. And she doesn't particularly care for Ms. Clinton, either. So she hadn't paid attention to the fuss. I had and I commented that Ms. Ferraro's comment was probably, in essense, correct.

"But that's a racist comment," DD#1 said.

"Really? Pointing out that Mr. Obama's credentials are light and that if he were white he wouldn't be considered for the Presidency is racist? But she didn't say anything negative about his being black," I pointed out.

"She brought up his race. Any time you mention a person's race, you're racist."

"That's right, Mom," chimed in DS#2.

"Even if it's positive?"


"Being racist isn't always negative or about negative things," DD#1 elaborated. "You're just commenting on their race."

"What if I refer to your red hair..." I began.

"You're being racist," she stated. "I consider redheads a race."


I couldn't think of any argument. According to two of my children (DD#2 was in the car but refused to be drawn into the discussion), any mention at all of anyone's race or physical attributes makes you a racist. Which doesn't necessarily carry the same negative connotation I thought it did. It's kind of the opposite of Dr. Martin Luther King's vision of a color-blind society. This new society recognizes that, yes, races exist and we notice them. How can we not? But our judgements about a person's ability isn't determined by those physical characteristics.

Somehow, I don't think the MSM or the rest of the world has adopted this particular outlook quite yet.