TNC’s take-down deserves a wider audience:
The problem here isn’t that we think Richard Cohen gags at the sight of an interracial couple and their children. The problem is that Richard Cohen thinks being repulsed isn’t actually racist, but “conventional” or “culturally conservative.” Obstructing the right of black humans and white humans to form families is a central feature of American racism. If retching at the thought of that right being exercised isn’t racism, then there is no racism.
Context can not improve this. “Context” is not a safe word that makes all your other horse-shit statements disappear. And horse-shit is the context in which Richard Cohen has, for all these years, wallowed. It is horse-shit to claim that store owners are right to discriminate against black males. It is horse-shit to claim Trayvon Martin was wearing the uniform of criminals. It is horse-shit to subject your young female co-workers to “a hostile work environment.” It is horse-shit to expend precious newsprint lamenting the days when slovenly old dudes had their pick of 20-year-old women. It is horse-shit to defend a rapist on the run because you like The Pianist. And it is horse-shit to praise a column with the kind of factual error that would embarrass a j-school student.
Richard Cohen’s unfortunate career is the proper context to understand his column today and the wide outrage that’s greeted it.
As the parent of biracial children, I am naturally attuned to the cultural shift regarding interracial couples and biracial children that has occurred in this country.
When my ex-wife and I had children, I perceived that my kids would face situations in both black and white communities where their particular status would cause them grief and I tried to determine when it would be best to address it with them; deciding that it was probably best when something triggered the need. To my pleasant surprise, my now high-school aged kids have never had an incident of any note as biracial children and no identity problem for themselves, because quite frankly their status isn’t much of a status. They just don’t stand out very much. If you go to any suburban or urban grade school or high school today, you will find many kids whose origin you couldn’t identify and if given a list of names, would be unable to match the surnames to the kids. My kid’s soccer team has an Asian looking kid with a Greek name, a Black looking kid with a Jewish surname a vaguely Latin looking kid with a generic Anglo name and my own Irish surnamed kid who looks vaguely Black or Latin.
Reading Mr. Cohen is like listening to the old relative at Thanksgiving dinner who is so far out of touch with the actual conventional thinking of his own world that rather than be outraged, you blush and then pity the man. His own newspaper reported on this shift a couple of years ago, but who reads papers anymore?