Friday, 19 December 2008

Lefty liberals vs racism

We came together like fallen soldiers in a heaven bar reunion. Dead and forgotten fighters of the good fight, our resolve weakened by bureaucracy, our intentions vanquished by slavemasters. We sat and we reminisced and we bitched and moaned and groaned about the state of affairs.

Meeting up with a mixture of old and new work colleagues is always a difficult one. You have a choice: find a new common ground and move on, or spend the evening moaning about your old boss and his/her old behaviour and what’s happening now and what said what to who and he/she’s still an idiot. We fell into old patterns, a table of office workers still in the grind and process, durm and strang of an office it seemed they hadn’t managed to mentally leave yet.

Talk soon turned to Obama and the monumentousness of the entire event. We hadn’t seen each other since before the elections and were now living in the bosom of history. It only seemed fair to try and deflect the office talk to something political and empowering and inspirational. Sister A was the first to burst our bubbles. Barack Obama, she said, is not the USA’s first mixed-race president. My jaw dropped. This was news to me. Warren G. Harding, she said was the USA’s first mixed-race president. Harding's great-grandmother was African-American, meaning Barack is the second in a line of mixed-race presidents. Further internet research revealed that Joel A. Rogers and Dr. Auset Bakhufu have both written books documenting that at least five former presidents of the United States had Black people among their ancestors. The president’s names include Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge. What does it mean though? Does it matter? Does this detract from the historical gravitas of Obama’s win? No. Because he is the first outwardly black president, down to his physical appearance. The others had mixed-race blood dating back generations. It’s still an amazing thing. It got me thinking about the end of volume 3 of Heroes (aired 15 December 2008) where Nathan Petrilli mets with a president who looks a lot like Obama. And in the last issue of Marvel’s Secret Invasion, it’s a president suspiciously like Obama who gives Norman Osborn the keys to the US defence strategy (possibly a bad decision). It’s like pop culture is trying to subtly ease America into the idea through multimedia icons. It’s amazing to think that this is happening quite seamlessly. Sister A noted that Obama’s presidency can be attributed to Jack Bauer, the neo-conservative dreamboat action torturer. Without his endorsement of Senator David Palmer in series 1-2 of 24, we’d be without Obama. It was the neo-cons what won it.
I then accused our old boss, a middle-aged Indian lady, of being a racist. This kicked off a lefty-liberal argument between two white people at the table about whether ethnics could be racist. I said, of course they could. I have, in my time, seen disgusting behaviour made by my own family towards blacks and Muslims (and sometimes both combined) and this was just as racist as a BNP member. My lefty liberal white old colleague disagreed, saying that history disinherited ethnics of the right to be racist, which I found incredibly patronising. Anyone has the ability to be horrendous to each other. If race plus power equals racism, and power can be dictated by the use of a word, of aggression, of slurs, prejudice, bigotry and not just socio-economic superiority (her argument) then anyone can be racist. She was, in her own way, defending ethnics and the oppression perpetrated against them by history, but by doing so, she was robbing ethnics of any rights and abilities to stand up and be counted now, because history had set us off at a disadvantage to them. She was wrong. But at this point I was phased out of the argument by an equally passionate white lefty liberal man who took it upon himself to argue my point for me.
I then talked about power dieting with Sister A, who is on an insane diet involving drinking 4 small cartons of nutrient powershake and a small meal of steamed meat and green vegetables. Insane. She looks great though, properly great. I’m down to get involved, see her consultant and get on the extreme measures bandwagon in time for my wedding. I’ve tried everything to lose weight, maybe it’s just time to go insane.

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