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By Abdul Hakim-Shabazz
In the past week I have had to deal with stories where a north central Indiana Tea Party “leader” used a tamale reference with
Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org.
regards to a Hispanic State lawmaker. A white Indianapolis restaurant owner dresses in blackface as part of New Orleans-themed Fat Tuesday celebration. And in Bedford at a high school semi-final basketball game where the locals are facing a predominantly black school from Indianapolis, as part of the festivities some of the students come out in safari garb chasing gorillas.
Yes, in 21st-century America this type of nonsense still takes place, but what was even more ridiculous was that even when these folks got called on the carpet in social media they can’t grasp the fact that they might have done something inappropriate.
Now, before someone tries to accuse me of being hypersensitive, let me put all that to rest. One of my favorite films is Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles.” That should clearly demonstrate that I not only have a pretty good sense of humor, but I also don’t offend easy.
Now, back to the topic at hand.
Like I said, I do not offend easy and do think there are plenty of times where people look for race when it is really not an issue. I can tell you a ton of stories from my college days in which black students who did poorly tried to accuse the professor of being prejudiced, when in fact the only real bias the instructors had was against laziness and poor work. I also think a person can have an issue with President Barack Obama, but that does not mean he or she is going home at night, taking the sheets off the bed, cutting two holes in them and then heading off to the local cross burning.
But seriously, dressing up in blackface and putting on gorilla costumes when the black basketball team comes to town? Really? And then you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong? That to me is the bigger sin in all these controversies. Everyone is entitled to exercise some bad judgment on occasion. However, when it is pointed out, the very least a person can do is pull a “my bad” and not do it again. There is no need to call the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, but there is a need for people to be more aware of the world around them.
Face it, folks, as much as some people may not like it, America is a lot more brown and black than it used to be. And that’s a good thing. It shows that as a country we can grow and evolve over time and celebrate our diversity while still maintaining our universal values of freedom and liberty. However, that only works when we don’t do stupid things like use tamale references when talking about a Hispanic lawmaker.
That type of behavior doesn’t get you anywhere. The only thing it gets you is called out because at the end of the day you look like either a racist or an idiot and neither is a very good option.