There’s a great SNL skit that just aired: posing as a commercial for Russel-Stover chocolates, the skit has white men giving their black girlfriend/wives a heart-shaped box of chocolate containing black heroes from American history. The women are horrified by their partner’s awkward choice. The joke is on men, who as a group can’t quite seem to figure out the right gifts for women. And the joke is on white people for failing to know the right way to acknowledge their black counterparts’ difference.
The skit plays well, our sympathy is with the younger of the two black women, who gazes at the camera with a compassionate mixture of I-love-him-but-WTF? But the skit gets at the larger cultural problem I was thinking about in a prior blog post, mainly, we, the people who are just becoming aware of their whiteness, don’t have a clue what to do with it. I think–I hope–we are moving past the “white guilt” era into something new. But there remains this uncomfortable, awkward glob [“glob” being the best word I can think of for an undefined mass] that needs in some way to be dealt with. And by “glob” I also mean that I don’t think this discomfort should just disappear. Every man that I am in a relationship with, which is to say my dad, brothers, husband, and friends, have transitioned well to a feminist worldview (and i largely and intentionally ignore my cousins and uncles). But I think this struggle, black/white in America, is much further down in white people’s psyches, and less likely to be pulled into full view because there is so much segregation.