Kareem Has Feelings About GIRLS; or, People, Your White Guilt is Showing
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Yesterday my Facebook newsfeed was peppered with comments about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's op-ed on GIRLS, "Girls Just Wants to Have (White) Fun." These comments, written by scholarly friends and scholarly-friends-of-scholarly friends (including many queer scholars I admire), displayed the usual liberal white guilt: OMG! This essay (by this black basketball player) is "articulate"! It's "smart"! OMG, "GIRLS" is so racist!
I love to hate this type of commentary, which in my experience more often than not comes straight from the mouths of queer white liberals who have never watched this show (or who justify their criticism by saying they've "read about the show" or "have seen snippets").
FACEPLANT. These queer white liberals (I know, I know: "queer liberal" is an oxymoron; I mean queer sexually and liberal ideologically) who allow such things to flow from their mouths call themselves scholars (literary scholars!) and critical thinkers and queers with a "second (or third) sight"! Even though they sure as hell would immediately dismiss a student for offering an analysis of a text without even reading the text.
(These are the same queer white liberals who have the audacity to call out the only POC in the room for saying something "racist." ... Upon these occasions I usually bite my cheek—literally.)
Now you might be thinking, "Pot! Kettle!"
Yes, I am white. Yes, I am queer. Yes, I admit to the occasional feeling of white guilt—like when I tell my students that, upon reading from Baldwin's Go Tell It On The Mountain yesterday in class for instance, I refuse to say the "n word." That I (white, female, queer) feel "uncomfortable" saying this word—a word that white people made horrible. But I don't have white guilt to the extent that I'm not afraid to talk about race, or I'm not hesitant to "analyze" Jabbar's piece on GIRLS because he's black. I think white guilt is an excuse for white people to not talk about race—which is sometimes a damn hard thing to do. To me, white guilt feels like a queer, inverted type of racism. But the solution is not to create an aura of invisiblity. We can't elect a half-black president and declare ourselves to now be living in a "post-race" America because—whew!—it makes us (white people) feel better.
Dunham apparently refused to read Jabbar's piece because she was told it was "negative." So, I'll read it for her, because the piece isn't