I don’t really like rootbeer either.

22 07 2009

I always have such hope for The Root.  
(Unlike this root which brings me nothing but anguish in its beverage form.)

Sarsaparilla Root (tarnishing the mightiest word in the English language, beer with its uneven sweetnes.

Sarsaparilla Root (tarnishing the mightiest word in the English language, "beer" with its uneven sweetness).

My thoughtful and talented friend Kai writes for them as does the highly estimable Melissa Harris-Lacewell, the website has got a great color scheme and on the whole, I support its aims.
I just don’t support the light touch that many of its writers have.
If you want to get into some shit, The Root seems to me to be the platform to really get into some shit – to really do some thoughtful, provocative writing and till the soil of thought about black experience.  More often than not The Root scatters seeds that have no way of taking hold.
This response to Mr. Gates’ arrest and humiliation at the hands of Cambridge police is prime example of this.
It takes five paragraphs for Ms. Gay to really get to the meat of the matter and state that “The daily indignity of racism is that black people cannot expect to live their lives as most Americans do.”  More to the point, in the 6th paragraph at quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates really nails it, “…my mother taught me how black men are to address the police.”
This is some shit. 
This is the shit that Ms. Gay should have addressed in the 1st paragraph and the 2nd. 
This is the shit that she shouldn’t have danced around in the 3rd paragraph before really gearing up to go at it in the 4th.
This is the shit that shouldn’t have just ended with the 6th paragraph’s ominous threat. 

Because that’s how I read it: as a threat to me about what will happen if I don’t buckle under the daily indignity, and not a condemnation of the daily indignity itself.
And that’s some shit.

I come to The Root in the hopes of being privy to a place where there is a higher dialogue about my experience of being an American who is black. 
I looked to Ms. Gay’s article (and The Root) for a nuanced discussion of  what it means (on more than just the, “how to prevent yourself from getting your ass kicked level”) to have to know “how to address the police” (and really, how to address the world).  What it means to be feared.  What it means to fear.  What it means for the children we were and the children we will raise.  And most importantly, what it means we must do to move beyond this.

Unfortunately The Root falls flat.




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