11.06.2003

Am I Black Enough For Ya?!

I wrote a letter to the editor of Salon the other night after reading an article by Laura Miller on the TV show "Angel". In it Ms. Miller opines:

Plus, can we talk about Gunn, please? News flash, everyone: He's black. Race has never been a subject well tackled by Mutant Enemy, the company that produces both shows, and the mystery is why. Gunn's situation -- a black man who left the community he grew up in and defended with his life to fight the "bigger" good fight with a handful of white folks -- just naturally generates the kind of internal quandaries that make Whedon's characters' travails so fascinating. Doesn't Gunn ever feel a twinge of homesickness, of identity confusion, of racial alienation? The new season's idea of implanting him with a comprehensive knowledge of the law is amusing, but does he have to be such an Oreo?

First of all, some of the issues with "Gunn's situation" were addressed in Season 3 (which was back when I watched the show regular-like). Secondly, OREO?! Excuse me?! It's bad enough that black people have been actively restricted and discouraged from realizing their dreams, indenties and aspirations throughout most of their history in these United States, but now we can even catch shit for not being "black enough!"
I don't what color Ms. Miller is but that doesn't excuse such ignorant, hateful behavior. I've had "Oreo" levelled at me before, usually by white folks who (at best) thought they were being funny and (at worst) were trying to hurt me or thought they knew enough about "what black people do" to be making such charges. What is most offending to me is the idea behind the term -- That my personal influences, interests, likes, dislikes and life experience all mean nothing in the face of my black skin. That all black people are the same, no matter where we came from or what we do -- like we're mass produced in a vat somewhere. Most of my most deeply held beliefs are centered around the power and potential of the individual. Calling someone an Oreo (or conversely, a Wigger) robs that person of the their selfhood, their individuality, their right to self determination and realization by impugning their personhood. By insinuating that they are not being themselves, but rather "acting".
To those who hold such attitudes, I'm (not) sorry, but whatever expectations you have for me in the way I speak, think, look or act are your fucking problem. Not mine.
Even though the discussion at hand was about a fictional character, I was happy to see Ms. Miller get a good blasting in the Letters section. Why a Senior Editor gets to spout off crap like she does (don't even get me started on her ad homium attack on Chuck Palahniuk) is beyond me, but it appears she doesn't have to apologize for being FUCKING WRONG. I guess that either way, Salon gets hits.
And lord knows they could use the attention...

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