I wrote this sentence:
Our Black newspaper could be owned, upon its owner’s death, by his white wife (who has toiled there and improved its marketing and advertising) but who, lovely though she is, is not Black.
in a blog post I wrote on March 3 called “Boston’s Black-on-Black Crime.”.
On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with the desire to keep Black-owned businesses in the hands of Black owners. Except, that’s not the way things necessarily work Iinthe world.
If a Black business owner decides to sell his business to a non-Black owner it is his right to do so. Who am I to judge? I can mourn the loss of Black ownership but not being in the position to buy anybody’s business myself, just who am I to judge?
Ditto for the inheritance of a Black business by a White or other person of color \who ain’t Black. If I were a White woman, married to a Black man who owned a business, including one that caters to the interests of Black people,
who dares suggest I shouldn’t own it? (Let me go on record that I didn’t say she shouldn’t own it, I just said it would no longer be Black-owned and that this would be a loss to the Black community.)
Upon reflection, I find my words simplistic, arrogant, and prejudiced.
Simplistic: White ownership doesn’t automatically change the mission or clients of the business.
Arrogant: Who am I to make such pronoucements when I really stop to think about it except that I’m blogging on a personal blog that bears my name so it clearly features my opinions, ideas, insights, rants, etc.
Prejudiced: Vestiges of the way I was raised to always recognize any assault on the Black community as an irreversible loss still exist in my consciousness and in my reality. It doesn’t matter if I like White people, interact positively with White people, if some of my best friends are …” (this is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, people), I still define a lot of issues by race (and, running a close second, by class).
I am not post-racial and don’t think I ever will be although I do mostly practice “des-racial”, i.e., despite racial and try to work “roun-racial” (i.e. around race).
The words I wrote have been running through my mind again and again. If I was the Black wife of a White business owner and someone wrote about what a shame it would be if the business were to fall in my hands because it would no longer be White-owned, there would be a hew and cry. The difference would be that in this case some people might assume that as a Black wife I wasn’t qualified to run whatever White business. In the case of the Bay State Banner, the competency of the White wife would never be a question, or at least not in my mind.
So, I apologize for making a statement that I feel could be hurtful and that certainly doesn’t stand up to scrutiny when I think about it more deeply. One of my measures of my integrity is that if something bothers me, if something doesn’t sit right, then it ain’t right! The afore-mentioned statement was one of those times.
Note: It’ll be interesting to see how many hits this piece gets and how fast it gets back to the Banner. The original post, while not my most- read entry, is up there on the list of top hits.
As a man who feels more comfortable in Roxbury than on Beacon Hill, happier in the back yard than on the polo ground, more useful in the classroom than in the boardroom, I applaud your self examination, honesty and difficult decision to apologize for something about which you feel a mixture of pride and failure. Very big. Take that racism.
Odd, I didn’t notice. That worries me some. Hmmm I’ll have to really think about that. There is sooo much inside me, I think in all of us, that demands examination, on the other hand…sometimes, I’m really sorry, I can’t carry it all. I can only try, sometimes I think what I think and I say what I say and I need to unthink and sadly I can’t un-say. It’s our willingness to do so that counts I think. but it is an exhausting commitment – I hope it makes us better and not just worried.
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