Wrote an introspective piece on how black people don’t like talking about race so much as they have to, lest it looks like we’re endorsing our own slaughter. The backdrop? My years avoiding race (and failing at it) in California and Kanye West’s embrace of a French designer who was shamed out of using the N-word.
Sometimes dealing with racism is like being trapped in The Eagles’ “Hotel California” – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
I attempted to “check out” of racist Hotel California when I lived in actual California for five years. I grew up in the racially-charged, urban Midwest in St. Louis, Mo., one of the most segregated regions in the nation. My experience with race was harsh and ever-burdensome, inescapable and cruel. When I left the Midwest region after college I was quite bitter and angry. I needed a break. So when I moved to the mostly white enclave of Bakersfield, Calif. I unconsciously decided I was going to take a “race vacation” and simply “not deal.”
This usually worked out just fine since most of the time the white people I encountered purposefully weren’t thinking about race. No one wanted to think about. It was much more preferable to all go drink Sangria and see some Sondheim at the local community theater.
It was fun playing pretend, except in those awkward moments when I couldn’t.