Truth be told, I thought the way Chris Rock handled the made-up Oscar issue was pretty clever, acknowledging the problem while at the same time picking at it as the molehill it really is.
He did say one thing that rings true, and that we need new ideas and approaches to the problem, something I alluded to in my column regarding the Super Bowl performance.
New, as in completely different from what has gone before. Because, as it’s been said, only madmen do the same thing repeatedly hoping for a different result.
That goes for positions, as well. As I see it, the biggest impediment to improving race relations is the intractability of thought on all sides — you know, neither side willing to give a little.
There’s also been quite a bit of slapping at the outstretched hand, as if to say, “You don’t understand our plight, and never will, so you have no right commenting or offering solutions on our pain.”
It’s the our part that’s pretty set in stone, and that keeps forward momentum moving backward.
However, it serves no purpose to constantly see racists and racism where it doesn’t exist, and criticizing a performance by a pop artist doesn’t make a person racist, any more than said performance is an example of racism itself.
It also doesn’t mend any fences when white people, who have been offering apologies and open hands for many years now, and who have never been a part of the evil that exemplified racism, are made out to be racist, since that bar for forgiveness keeps getting moved further and further away, and will have the effect of creating even more divide.
Fact of the matter is, there’s quite a bit of history in my family of slavery and oppression, since we are from Eastern Europe, and there’s plenty of evidence of that. In fact, my family wasn’t even in the U.S. in the 1800s, and we missed the Civil War era by decades.
No, we were more being pushed around by the U.S., and Germany, and Russia, and the Huns, and the Mongols, and any number of races. I suppose there were times we did our own pushing, but mostly, we were under one thumb or another.
But, as I see it, that’s in the past. I wasn’t living in Hungary when all that went on, and I won’t hold that against anyone as proof of their intention or feelings toward me. Nor am I going to demand someone, anyone, compensate me for all that loss and pain.
I’m saying, hopefully in the same vein as Rock, that we need new solutions for old problems. We need to understand the sins of the past to craft better answers for the future.
We need a full understanding of what is important, and what is worth fighting for, and then, with all the humanity and grace we can muster, come together.