(I don't think so)
The Obama years brought many things with it, of course, and one of those was that we “now” (2009 forward) lived in a “post-racial” society. Beyond trying to figure out what, exactly, “post-racial” means, suffice it to say that the entire notion of the United States of America transcending its long and painful racist history because of the election of an African American President was “flawed” from the instant it surfaced. From Kentucky Colonel/Senator Mitch McConnell’s declaration that his only objective was, as Republican Senate Leader, to make Obama a “one-term” president (nice job, Mitch) right through the Dylan Roof massacre and Black Lives Matter movement, it is clear we are nowhere near being post-racial.
Further evidence arose last week in Boston when Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was subjected to being called the N-word and having a bag of peanuts thrown at him by Boston fans. It’s important to note that this occurred not only in 2017 but also in a northern city. Post-racial? Hardly. Boston, of course, has a long history of barely concealed racism. The Red Sox were the last Major League baseball team to integrate --- a full 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke into the big leagues. Despite featuring Bill Russell as a star player on the 1950s/60’s Celtics NBA team (and hiring him as the first black coach in the league) the Celtics were always a 50/50 white/black team, with fans cheering Larry Bird and Kevin McHale more than Robert Parrish or JoJo White. Bill Russell was vocal on the issue, even writing about it in his 1979 memoir, Second Wind.
"Boston itself was a flea market of racism," he said in the book. "It had all varieties, old and new, and in their most virulent form. The city had corrupt, city hall-crony racists, brick-throwing, send-‘em-back-to-Africa racists, and in the university areas phony radical-chic racists." (complex. com – Cyrus Yuscavage May 2, 2017)
Boston has a well-documented history of racist behavior that its sports teams seem to bring out in their fans. The May 3, 2017 Boston Herald ran an Associated Press piece that noted the following:
Boston's racial history — including fights over segregated housing, schools and politics — has spilled into sports as some working-class residents experience a "white crisis," said University of Connecticut sociologist Matthew Hughey.
"They can't live up to the levels of superiority they're told they're supposed to naturally have, so they turn to symbolic things or people to build a sense of identity and to take out a sense of frustration," Hughey said. "Sports can be that sense of identity."
“This is one more alarm bell that racism is alive and well in the United States. To think it doesn't take place in sports, or in any other aspect of our society would be naive on the part of the public. But it puts it in our face more when something like that happens in a ballpark." said Richard Lapchick, director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.
So, the Adam Jones incident (which was echoed by numerous other Black major league players about Boston) reminds us, once again, that the power of the myth of white, male superiority is alive and well in the United States and remains a very lively demon in our body politic.
That said, I cannot help but connect the less-than-subtle white male supremacist attitude with Kentucky Colonel/Senator Mitch McConnell’s decision to staff the Senate working group on the Health Care bill with THIRTEEN white men. Extending the notion that we should dispel the idea of “post-racial” we might also include disabusing ourselves of the concepts of “post-feminist” and “post-LBGTQ” (if those were ever even considered!). While we know the American Health Care Act that the House of Representatives created last week is a travesty and not worth the hundreds of pages it’s printed on, who knows what this group of white guys is going to come up with?! As Michelle Wolf noted on last night’s “The Daily Show:” "Thirteen white guys and no women?!” Wolf exclaimed, pointing out that the panel contains two Mormons, but not one female Senator, “which is weird for Mormons, because usually they want extra women.” Funny but true. If you care to email or call those on the committee, here’s the list:
· Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
· Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX)
· Conference Chairman John Thune (R-SD)
· Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY)
· Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY)
· Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
· Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
· Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
· Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
· Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
· Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
· Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
· Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
(WNBC News, May 5, 2017 & photo above, right)
I bring this up because a proposal for the bill has been crafted by Susan Collins, the female Republican Senator from Maine and (Dr.) Bill Cassidy of Louisiana (Republican), which contains many elements of compromise and good sense that might “replace” Obamacare while keeping many of the benefits people want, need, and like. (The key element is turning things over to the states and away from Federal mandates but it does seem to preserve Medicaid, another crucial element of Obamacare). We, the citizens, may want to push these 13 men to consider the Cassidy-Collins proposal as a starting point for then attempting to craft a decent compromise Health Care Bill to vote on.
My concern is that this committee working group is simply a Senate version of those Boston fans and we, the American People, are Adam Jones, standing alone in center field while they hurl bags of peanuts at us.