My Father, Expert on Racism in America dadada Macro-Fiction

map My Father, Expert on Racism in America

by dadada

Published in Issue No. 182 ~ July, 2012

Photo from: University of Wisconsin's Digital Collection

 

Can you imagine?

Herschel Reznick <herschrez@socal.jmr.com>

Sent: Mon 13/02/12 10:45 AM

To: Ezra Reznick

 

Dear Ez,

 

Yes, I’m making an exception here on politics, so either delete this now, or stand advised.

 

If you decide to read on, first watch this clip, then tell me about what you’d call flat out racism.

 

Love,

– Dad

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdjoHA5ocwU&feature=youtu.be

 

 

[VIDEO: President Obama speaking seated at a desk, United States flag in background.]

“This month we are announcing the 2012 launch of African Americans for Obama. I don’t think there’s a better time than African-American History Month to consider the tremendous progress that we’ve made through the sacrifices of so many, or a better time to commit to meeting the very real challenges we face right now.

 

[VIDEO: Montage of African Americans and others marching in honor of MLK. VOICE OVER: President Obama.]

“Every day I think of the generations of African American men and women who overcame slavery and oppression…”

 

[VIDEO: President Obama speaking.]

“…risked their own safety to cast a ballot, even gave up their lives to build a country that lived up to its founding principles. Their extraordinary hope, their unwavering determination changed this country. Their efforts made it possible for somebody like me to be here today.

 

“This is another moment when we’ve got to decide what kind of country we want to be. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, or we can build a nation where everyone gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules.

 

[VIDEO: Montage of African Americans collecting signatures, talking and working in neighborhoods and the settings described. VOICE OVER: President Obama.]

“This campaign is powered by folks at every level taking ownership where it matters most: around the kitchen table, barber shops and beauty salons, in your faith community, at work, or at school. And, of course, in the voting booth this Election Day. We are greater together than we can ever be on our own.”

 

[VIDEO: President Obama speaking.]

“Visit africanamericans.barackobama.com for more information about all the ways you can get involved—from attending HBCU organizing workshops to becoming a Congregation Captain—and say you’re ready to keep making history. Thanks, and see you out there.”

 

[CLOSING TITLE: 2012 AFFRICANAMERICANS.BARACKOBAMA.COM]

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Ezra Reznick <ezrez@sonic.net>

Sent: Mon 13/02/12 12:15 PM

To: Herschel Reznick

 

Dad.

Honest, from my heart.

How you consider this to be racist is completely beyond me.

How it is racist for a group of people who share a common heritage or history to come together in an organization in order to share an interest or political agenda?

 

You are saying that an AFFINITY group is somehow racist. Race is an issue and a topic in our culture, and to address it is not racism. Shared heritage, religion, nationality and culture draw people together. When they form groups, they share an affinity and often an agenda. That is not racism. Simple definition. Racism is a belief or doctrine that inherent differences between races determine cultural or individual value and place one’s one race about others.

 

That isn’t what African Americans for Obama is doing. AAFO brings African Americans together on a political issue. If you can find something in their mission statement that suggests they consider African Americans to be a superior race or that other races are excluded or discriminated against, please let me know.

 

How is African Americans for Obama any different from the NAACP? Or is the NAACP racist, too, along with The Million Man March, or Color of Change (http://colorofchange.org/) that works actively to counter hundreds of years of ACTUAL racism–the subjugation of African American people and culture? And why have you chosen to spotlight AAforO instead of

 

Asian Americans for Obama (http://www.asianamericansforobama.com/)

Canadians for Choice (http://www.canadiansforchoice.ca/)

Jews for Ron Paul (http://www.facebook.com/JewsForRonPaul)

Or how about Jews for Obama (Jewish Grassroots Action Network) (http://jews4obama.com/mythfacts/?page_id=40)?

 

I sincerely hope you will take some time to explore your perceptions about race. I think it is valuable for people to acknowledge their own deeply help prejudices, even if they work to overcome them and hold the intention of being beyond racial judgments. If you need help doing that, you might consider trying one or more of the Implicit Associations Tests at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/

 

Finally, if you intend to keep broadcasting items relating to race without first raising your own consciousness about these issues, then you can kindly keep me on your do-not-mail list.

 

With love,

 

Ezra

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Ezra Reznick <ezrez@sonic.net>

Sent: Mon 13/02/12 12:31 PM

To: Herschel Reznick

 

“first watch this clip, then tell me about what you’d call flat out racism.”

 

Flat out racism = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws

Flat out racism = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_segregation#United_States

Flat out racism = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_parks#Montgomery_buses:_law_and_prevailing_customs

Against flat out racism = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_rights_movement#Sit-ins.2C_1960

Flat our racism = http://www.zakkeith.com/articles,blogs,forums/anti-Chinese-persecution-in-the-USA-history-timeline.htm

Flat out racism = http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/articles/mexico/mexican-american-discrimination/1072

Do I have to go back to Nazi Germany?

To slave trading?

To the slaughter of Native Americans?

To the dispossession of indigenous races worldwide?

 

Racism means putting your own race of human above other races of human based on differences in culture and physiognomy.

That’s flat out racism.

Flat out racism does not mean a group of people of like culture or race gathering for a purpose. Never has. Never will. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/racism

 

You’re welcome.

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Herschel Reznick <herschrez@socal.jmr.com>

Sent: Mon 13/02/12 2:24 PM

To: Ezra Reznick

 

Dear Ez,

 

First, just to note:

 

Asian Americans for Obama (http://www.asianamericansforobama.com/) – “NOT FOUND”

Canadians for Choice (http://www.canadiansforchoice.ca/) – “NOT FOUND”

Jews for Ron Paul (http://www.facebook.com/JewsForRonPaul) – “NOT FOUND”

Or how about Jews for Obama (Jewish Grassroots Action Network) ( http://jews4obama.com/mythfacts/?page_id=40)? – FOUND, but only for January items.”

Color of Change (http://colorofchange.org/)- “NOT FOUND”

 

So where is Obama exhorting Asians, Canadians, Jews, or other AFFINITY group to vote for him. The absence of all other such messages but the one is why I see it as blatant.

 

And certainly, not all Jews, Canadians, Asians, OR Blacks are pro-Obama.

 

Seems to me, African-American month is just as appropriate a time for Blacks to commit to a sea change from the victim mentality that is continually drummed into them by the left.

To say, “We [Blacks] are greater together [at the voting booth] than we can ever be on our own,” is to assert that all Blacks think and vote alike.

Wonder what Bill Cosby thinks about that, and I wonder if he might see this clip as racist, too?

 

Love,

– Dad

 

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Ezra Reznick <ezrez@sonic.net>

Sent: Mon 13/02/12 3:47 PM

 

Seems to me that as someone who is not African American, and as someone who has never inquired much into the African American experience, your perspective on what African American month means is not only limited, but prone to error. Which is fine, but in case you should want the perspective of someone who may be slightly more informed than you on these issues, you could contact Katherine Reznick-Bakker, professor of African American Studies. Tell her hello from me. Meanwhile, be sensitive to the limitations of your own knowing when speaking about the experience and intentions of other people.

 

As for the alleged absence of all other affinity groups, you are simply not looking.

 

Go to http://www.barackobama.com/, click “continue to website,” then mouse over “Groups” You will see that Obama has supporting groups for African Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, Latinos, LGBT Americans, Veterans & Military Families, Women and Younger Americans. All from his own site.

 

Even if the messages is, “We blacks are greater at the voting booth than we can be on our own,” this still does not fit the definition of racism because it does not put one race over others. And it DOES fit the definition of affinity, because EVERY political affinity group is about the exact same thing.

 

Furthermore, and most importantly, the message, “We blacks are greater together than on our own” does not imply that all blacks think and vote alike. From what logic do you derive that these are the same message? Nowhere does the ad or site say that all African Americans need to join African Americans for Obama or that all of them do or should think or vote alike. No more than Jews for Obama suggests, even remotely, that all Jews think and vote alike.

 

My work involves hours every day of addressing affinity groups like the VFW, The American Legion, Jewish War Veterans, Wounded Warriors and the Military Officers Association. Every piece I write says Join X group because we’re stronger together than we are apart. These organizations make a different on Capitol Hill and help improve the lives of members and non-members. This is what affinities are. There is no assertion that all veterans, officers or wounded soldiers think and vote alike. The only message is: here’s an organization intended to help you and further your interests, and we’d like you to join. That’s the same message I get from the AfAm for Obama video. If you hadn’t said “racist,” it would have been the absolute last word that would have crossed me mind.

 

Finally, here are your fixed links (the final parens prevented them from working):

 

Asian Americans for Obama http://www.asianamericansforobama.com/

Canadians for Choice http://www.canadiansforchoice.ca/

Jews for Ron Paul http://www.facebook.com/JewsForRonPaul (2330 likes!)

Color of Change http://colorofchange.org/

 

Ez

 

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Ezra Reznick <ezrez@sonic.net>

Sent: Mon 13/02/12 4:51 PM

To: Herschel Reznick

 

 

Of further interest!

Not only is AAforO not racist in the dictionary sense of putting one race above others, it is also not racist in terms of serving only one race in exclusion of others. I, a non-African-American, just joined and made a financial contribution.

 

Cheers!

Ezra

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Herschel Reznick <herschrez@socal.jmr.com>

Sent: Mon 13/02/12 6:11 PM

To: Ezra Reznick

 

Mazel Tov, Leftie!

 

L’Shalom,

– Dad

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Herschel Reznick <herschrez@socal.jmr.com>

Sent: Mon 13/02/12 6:20 PM

To: Ezra Reznick

 

Ezra,

 

Here are my “ignorance” credentials from my past:

 

– I have made donations to the NAACP and the Urban League.

– I have subscribed to American Heritage Magazine (a Negro publication).

– I have a current subscription to Ebony.

– We visited the campus of Howard U.

– I was present at a speech by M.L.King, Jr.

– I walked around at and in “Resurrection City” on the Wash. DC mall.

– I said, “Hello,” to MLK’s widow there.

– In Vietnam, I joined and attended the Afro-American Club on the base there.

 

Don’t know what’s wrong, but all the links you note are NOT FOUND by my Mac. Sorry, but it’s just up to my Mac to find it using the URL.

 

Love,

Dad

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Ezra Reznick <ezrez@sonic.net>

Sent: Mon 13/02/12 9:43 PM

To: Herschel Reznick

 

Sorry, but your resume fails to convince me that you are any kind of authority on the African American experience or racism in America. Your subscriptions don’t convince me that you actually read those magazines. Saying Hello to MLK’s widow and visiting Howard U do not change the fact that when it comes to African American issues and race, listening would behoove you a lot more than speaking. I notice no Old Farts U enrichment classes on the subject of race in America. I notice no current memberships to African American discussion groups, formal or informal, online or in person. I notice no broad and regular attention paid to current and contemporary sources of black American views. Do you really consider yourself an authority on what African History Month means? Sorry to say, your calling Obama’s affinity campaign “racist” demonstrates a lot more ignorance to me than your bullet points demonstrate knowledge.

 

And seriously: type in barackobama.com. It isn’t that difficult to find. Barackobama.com –> Groups ..> Jews for Obama. Consider donating.

 

 

PS: Why did you send the initial email? Really, why? Not surface why, but really deep why? Why are you unable to take the hint? Why do you keep succumbing to to the urge to show me your politics when you know I find them very disheartening? Consider the deep why before you answer, if you answer.

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Herschel Reznick <herschrez@socal.jmr.com>

Sent: Mon 13/02/12 10:48 PM

To: Ezra Reznick

 

I forgot to include a course I took for my MBA: “Racism and the Law” – taught jointly by the IU law school and the AA dept. Guess that’s a throwaway, too, eh?

Oh, and an interactive seminar course on Race Relations. Another throwaway in your eyes, I’m sure.

But I’d bet I’m in the upper percentiles of knowledge and sensitivity to Black culture and history.

If you expect only the illuminati of your world to be able to judge what is and isn’t racist, I’d say you are greatly outnumbered by common sense people who are not blinded by their own biases.

 

Love,

Dad

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Ezra Reznick <ezrez@sonic.net>

Sent: Tue 14/02/12 10:04 AM

To: Herschel Reznick

 

Proven: your incomparable expertise on the black experience in America despite being a white person living for the past 30 years in a predominantly white neighborhood. You should teach a class!

 

Remains completely unfounded: your original claim that it is somehow racist for Obama to ask for support from African Americans through an organization called African Americans for Obama.

 

Since you’re an expert on racism, you should be able to explain what you meant. And it’s not a logically sound argument to say, “here’s my resume on race, therefore I’m an expert, therefore if I say something is racist, it must be.” Not even an actual black person would be able to make that argument and have it be sound.

 

Remains completely unproved and unsupported: why African Americans for Obama is racist by any definition of the word, and if it is racist, why groups like Jews for Obama, Asian Americans for Obama, Canadians for Choice or Color of Change are not also racist—and if they, too, are racist, then why those organizations failed to raise your righteous and expert dander.

 

Finally, I have decided to make a financial contribution to a political organization every single time you send me a politically based email (maximum one per day). Today, I have just donated $25 to KPFA to support their ongoing broadcast. I put in the comment section that “This donation is made on behalf of Herschel Reznick, Republican Voter.” I did not give them your email address this time, but I can’t guarantee that I will choose to withhold it in the future.

 

For my contribution, I will receive a CD of a lecture called “Urban Rez.” I don’t know what it is about, but if it has anything to do with race, I will forward it to you, knowing your deep and abiding interest in race issues in America.

 

L’SHalom

 

Ezra

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Ezra Reznick <ezrez@sonic.net>

Sent: Tue 14/02/12 10:27 AM

To: Herschel Reznick

 

Back atcha, Lefty

 

 

Ez

 

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Herschel Reznick <herschrez@socal.jmr.com>

Sent: Tue 14/02/12 4:17 PM

To: Ezra Reznick

 

Ezra,

 

You have no right to use my name “on behalf” of anything. I withhold such permission. Do not do that again.

 

You saw it was political at the outset—I announced it. And I suggested that if you didn’t want to look at it, you were under no obligation to do so.

 

The fact that you did look was up to your own choice. Now you are trying to blame me for your poor judgment in your donations just because you’re pissed that we have differing opinions.

 

I’ve had enough of your childish behavior.

 

L’Shalom,

– Dad

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Ezra Reznick <ezrez@sonic.net>

Sent: Tue 14/02/12 5:33 PM

To: Herschel Reznick

 

Hilarious! Look in the mail for a letter from me–but don’t open it. It has to do with Palestine and Israel and flat out racism.

 

You crack me up, dad, actually blaming me for reading an email you sent. You started this thread. You started it. Are you seriously not owning ANY culpability for that? Seriously?

– No culpability for offering the bait in spite of my being on your no-mail list?

– No culpability for tempting a confrontation when you know full well that I disagree with your political views?

– No culpability for spinning your email in a confrontational tone?

– None for including a working link?

No blame on you? None? Talk about childish behavior! Bating an argument and then denying blame is about as childish as you can get. If you want an argument, at least own it.

 

And by the way you have still left your initial point completely unproven and unsupported. No surprise there since your accusation of racism was without merit from the start.

 

Please do send me something political tomorrow. NPR is also having a fund drive. I will donate money every time I get a political email from you. I feel the need to support organizations that help dispel and combat unsupported accusations of racism. And the choice whether to dedicate my donation on behalf of someone else is entirely my prerogative. But I will refrain from giving out your email address — though you could learn something new, expert though you are.

 

 

L’Shalom

Ezra

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Herschel Reznick <herschrez@socal.jmr.com>

Sent: Tue 14/02/12 7:34 PM

To: Ezra Reznick

 

Ezra,

 

When I sent it (and not just to you, but also to a few folks who don’t want to read my opinion pieces), I knew I was taking a risk. Most people haven’t responded. I presume they either deleted it – fine – or read it and ignored it. Also fine. So you’re saying I shouldn’t “blame” you for reading it? I don’t “blame” you; I just think it was your choice. Do you disagree? If so, we disagree on much more than politics.

 

If you must call it “bait,” I can only say that I thought that even you might see it as I saw it. I see now that was definitely delusional on my part. I wasn’t looking for a confrontation, however. None. I was looking (delusionally, I admit) for an area of agreement. I do take full responsibility for having no true understanding of the extent and depth of my son’s beliefs. You have certainly cleared me up on that.

 

I also do take full responsibility for including a working link(!) Do you think I should’ve sent you a nonworking one?

Do you take responsibility for including five or six nonworking ones in your emails? Did you mean to send me nonworking ones?

 

I would like you to respect my wishes not to use my name in your donations to whatever organizations you want to support.

I will not attempt to find any common ground with you in the future, no matter how obvious something may seem to me. I’ll now know that you will think the opposite.

 

Dad

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Ezra Reznick <ezrez@sonic.net>

Sent: Tue 14/02/12 8:32 PM

To: Herschel Reznick

 

> “I will not attempt to find any common ground with you in the future, no matter how obvious something may seem to me.”

 

Then I’m glad we’re agreed: When you put politics in an email and put my name in the To: field and click “send,” you are essentially starting an argument with me. That’s how you should understand it going forward. And whether or not you cop to it, you already knew that.

 

I accept some blame for reading your email in spite of your warning, and I see your initial action of sending it to be at least as blameworthy. I’m glad you recognized it as a risk; however, in the future, there is no need to think of it as a risk at all. Think of it as a certainly: I disagree with Republican politics. Again, I disagree with Republican politics.

 

I believe we do share some commonalities in our views, but these have nothing to do with Rep v Dem politics, and I don’t personally wish to argue through the 99% of what we clash on in order to find the 1% of commonality. I don’t want to argue by email, and I don’t want to talk about politics in person.

 

This is the point as clear as I can make it: if you don’t want to start an argument with me, then don’t talk to me about politics.

 

And please note that this is not the first time I have asked you, adult-to-adult, to stop sending me your politics. Call my more extreme measures “childish antics” if you wish–I don’t care. My only point is to get my point across. Whatever works is good enough for me.

 

Ezra

 

 

PS: Please don’t send me politics. I don’t want to hear about it from you.

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Herschel Reznick <herschrez@socal.jmr.com>

Sent: Tue 14/02/12 10:35 PM

To: Ezra Reznick

 

Ezra,

 

Just want a little help on what is and isn’t Dem/Rep politics and what else might be in the verboten categories before I send any. How about:

Israel?

Iran?

Afghanistan?

MidEast?

Chavez?

Castro?

Africa?

 

I’ll assume we mustn’t discuss: environment, abortion, GLBT, THC, CIA, IRS, USA, and other similar trinomes/tetranomes.

 

– Dad

 

 

Re: Can you imagine?

Ezra Reznick <ezrez@sonic.net>

Sent: Tue 14/02/12 11:27 PM

To: Herschel Reznick

 

Dad.

 

All of the above are fine NOT to tell me your opinions about or pass on related opinions from your most favored pundits. These all look like subjects on which you have adopted (or will adopt) right-wing attitudes without wavering. It is safe to assume I have adopted (or will adopt) left-wing attitudes regarding same—especially if you intend to come forward with assertions on these subjects that are as “obvious,” yet—at the same time—as patently insupportable as “African Americans for Obama is flat-out racist.”

 

If you hear it on Fox, Prager, or any website you visit with a hint of right-wing flavor, there is no need to pass it on to me. Or if you think it up yourself and hear it echoed in these channels, same deal. I just don’t need to hear your attitudes about these topics. I am sure I can assume what your attitudes are with sufficient if not perfect accuracy. And hey, if I really want to know, I’ll ask.

 

As a safe option, you might consider CALLING me when there is something you want to share. I like to hear from you, but email makes it too easy for you to send me things you’ve heard or thought of that I am not interested in arguing about. I am fine to let the email channel remain one for photographs, family news, well wishes, personal experiences, and the like. That would be a safe option.

 

In other news, these communications, appropriate for email between us, IMO, have been delayed and sadly downplayed during the argument between us, which is hopefully winding down:

– Happy Valentine’s Day. Did you do anything to celebrate?

– I am hoping mom is feeling okay and doing better. I’ll call tomorrow.

– I hope YOU are doing okay and that the stress of mom’s illness is passing.

– I also want to work on the poem with her but haven’t gotten to it due to this thread.

– I would like, some time, to hear about how you met MLK’s widow.

 

Love,

Ezra

 

 

 

 

***

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Devoted to the practice of creative writing since the mid 1980s, Daniel Ari (dadada) continues to write and publish extensively online and in print. Writer's Digest, McSweeney’s, 42 Magazine, Ceramics Now, Conscious Dancer and Turbulence have recently published his writing. Daniel Ari leads creative writing workshops and jams throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including at his home in Richmond, California.
  • Bdawg

    Immediately after reading this story I got into an argument with someone. It did not begin as a racial dispute, but it ended as one. Essentially, it became one of those “your racial perception of reality invalidates everything” type of conversations. No fun. The father who criticizes Obama isn’t really a racist in the classic sense of the word. But he is a man who militantly refuses to examine his own belief system. Of course, there were times in the story where I wanted to scream at the son to take it easy on his old man.  I wished he would stop citing college professors as a way to shit on his Dad’s argument. In fact that seemed like a subtle, but deeply important point in the piece: The son uses higher education as a touchpoint in his life; the father uses military service. Anyway, I thought there were some brave choices here and I liked it quite a bit. It reminded me of the only bumper sticker I ever liked: Don’t Believe Everything You Think.