Anybody see Chris Rock on Saturday Night Live this weekend? He's funny. I loved him as a regular SNL cast member, I usually enjoy his movies, and his sitcom is hilarious. I even laughed through his bit the other night--but at the same time, it made me uneasy. And when he finished, I thought: Well, he's kinda missing the point, isn't he?
See, he was commenting on the two Democratic frontrunners for the 2008 presidential election, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. His comment: "A black man and a white woman--what is this, a suffering contest?"
Sigh. Really? That's what this election is gonna be? A suffering contest?
What Chris Rock said about the experience of the American Black Man is irrefutably true--and the way he said it was pretty damn funny--but he was wrong to discount the suffering of white women. And let's be honest, if we're talking about a suffering contest, then he is TRULY wrong to do his whole bit and not once mention the suffering of the American Black Woman. Because if you wanna talk about a suffering contest, women of color (black, brown, yellow, red) win, hands down, not just here in America but worldwide.
But that's not the point either. (continues after break)
These candidates, this election, and this whole country need to be about more than suffering. We need to be about more than infighting about which group is more oppressed. And I'm not singling out white men as the enemy we need to unite against--sure, there are thousands of them in government and business who are doing the oppressing, but there are millions more who are as oppressed as the rest of us, watching our jobs go overseas, watching our neighborhoods crumble, watching our buddies die in a desert.
So who's the enemy? The government? The businesses? The media?
No. We are the enemy. We, the American Public, the ones who let the media get away with running press releases and promotional videos as news, because we only watch the news for the sports scores. We who let big businesses rape and pillage the environment and their employees (here and worldwide) because we're too lazy or too broke or too tired to bike to work or grow our own vegetables. We who let the government get away with bait and switch, divide and conquer, bread and circuses tactics because we're too busy arguing about who wins the suffering contest.
We ALL win the suffering contest, okay? ALL of us--men and women, black and white (and Hispanic, and Asian, and everybody else), gay and straight, we have all suffered enough.
And if, like me, you are freaking sick and tired of suffering, then we have to get together and get to work. We have to remember that the president, the legislature, the mayor, all of our elected officials work for us, and if we don't like the job they're doing, we can fire them. We have to remember that if we didn't pay businesses so much for raping and pillaging, they wouldn't do it. We have to remember that there are alternative media outlets who report actual news, and that maybe if we all ignore Rupert Murdoch, then maybe, just maybe, he'll go away.
I'm not saying it'll be easy. I'm saying it needs to be done. I'm saying that in the end, it'll be worth it. One of my favorite white women, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission."
If we wanna stop suffering, we need to deny others that permission. Eleanor Roosevelt also said, when helping to create the Universal Declaration of Human Rights nearly 60 years ago, "The destiny of human rights is in the hands of all our citizens in all our communities." Let's get to work.