Monday, January 18, 2010

Witz Pickz: Ronald Reagan Couldn't Remember if He was Racist and Now We Have MLK Day

Like many white people of my generation, I was raised and schooled to be overly aware and sensitive to race. This means that I was taught so much about race and racism that I'm actually probably racist because of it, just in a benevolent way.

Sometimes, when I'm at the gym, for example, if I see a black guy drinking from the water fountain, even if I'm not thirsty, I'll go over and take a drink next, just so he knows I'm on his side. "We've sure come a long way, haven't we?" I'll imply with my generous sips and friendly smile ( least I hope that's what it implies, as opposed to, "Men's locker room-- five minutes.").

While I believe that "we're all the same" and we should "celebrate diversity," it's not always so easy to see the cultural similarities on a daily basis. On the train from Waterbury to NYC the other day, however, I learned that you just have to stop looking and start listening to see exactly how similar we all are.

At first, when I heard the following cell phone conversation by the kid sitting a few seats behind me, it was dull and irrelevant:

White Kid on Cell Phone: Hi, Michael? Hey, I just wanted to let you know I'll be at Grand Central around noon. Yep, I'll meet you there and we can get a sandwich or something. Yeah then we'll-- hello? Hello? Michael?....Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now???

Then I heard this conversation from...the kind of guy Harry Reid would not expect to win the presidency:

Black Guy on Cell Phone: Motherfucka, if I see that nigga, Fritz, I'm gon' fuck his ass up, boy-- I'm an OG, motherfucka, he don't know where I'm from-- talkin' EAST END, nigga, Bridgeport. Cops'll pull yo' ass over for wearin' a fitted, know what I mean? Nigga best be-- yo? Tio?...can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now???

WE'RE ALL THE SAME! A little while later, my hunch was confirmed. Here's a typical scenario that has happened when I've been on the phone:

WITZ: Hi, Ryan? How's it going? Yeah, I--
JAMES: Is that Ryan? Tell him I say "Hi."
WITZ: --Hey, Ryan, James says, "Hi." (pause) "Ryan says, 'Hi.'"
JAMES: Cool.

Now here's the phone conversation I overheard from the same guys in front of me:

KWAN: What up, Tio? Where you at, nigga? Oh, for real? I--
RICO: Yo, tell Tio I say "What up."
KWAN: Yo, Rico says "What up." (pause) "Tio says, 'What up.'"
RICO: Cool.

Granted, that conversation is infinitely cooler, but it reveals the bond between us all; that everybody just wants to say "what up."

Here are some other things I've thought about this MLK, Jr. Day:

-Is it racist or just stupid that TNT has "Honoring MLK" above the scores during their NBA basketball coverage? Furthermore, is it borderline disrespectful for Celtics forward, Brian Scalabrine, to be on the court?

-"So what is it? If MLK, Jr. see's his shadow, there's three more months of winter?"

-Is it racist that I still don't know who the eff Tyler Perry is??

-I think if you were the millionth man at the Million Man March, you should have won a prize.

-Regardless of whether stereotypes are true or not, was Gallagher really really ridiculously racist?

I Like How Christmas Is Always On the 25th of December because That WAS OBVIOUSLY WE'RE NOT MAKING THIS UP Jesus's Birthday, but MLK Day is Celebrated on the Third Monday of Each January, when His Birthday Was DEFINITELY FOR REAL on the 15th,

P.S. It's probably important to note that the conversations I referenced are VERBATIM what I heard on the train.

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