A troublesome word

2011 Black Expo: The weight of a troublesome word ...
2011 Black Expo: The weight of a troublesome word …

In his 2002 editorial “The reason there’s no White Expo,” black columnist Leonard Pitts explains that whiteness is an artifical construct used most pervasively in America to circle the wagons around wealth and influence, rewarding homogeneity among fair-skinned peoples while subjugating everybody else. This has made “White” an incendiary designation, whereas designations like “Scottish,” “Polish” and even “Anglo Saxon” threaten no one at all.

“The truth is,” Pitts writes, “‘White’ hasn’t changed, but America has. Changed enough that all of us understand – again, if only intuitively – the weight of a troublesome word.”

I would ask Pitts to consider, however, that “Black” has become a troublesome word, too, hoisted so high up the flagpole, casting a shadow so long.

What say we pull both terms down from their wink-wink-nudge-nudge “heritage not hate” places of honor and declare a moratorium on all glorifications of race? What say we stop pretending that it’s okay for people of Nigerian descent to shout “black pride,” but not okay for people of Austrian descent to shout “white pride”? Both are divisive and hypocritical.
The fact that I happen to be of Irish descent is of almost no interest to me. I’m just a guy. Yes, a white guy. Okay, a straight white guy. Whatever. Hibernians who get all mystical about their Gaelic roots mystify me.

So here’s the deal: If you want to hold an Irish Catholic Day Parade, or a Chinese Pediatrician Day Parade, or a Gay Black Skydiver Day Parade, knock yourself out. But don’t expect me to apologize for not taking your specialness very seriously.