Second Thoughts

1347469654_oprah-winfrey-jane-fonda-441Last night, after I had written my most recent post, You Wouldn’t Even Dream That You Could Dream of a Moment Like This, I hesitated before clicking, ‘Publish.’  I wrestled with this feeling that here I was, taking the words of a black man who was talking about an experience that essentially belonged to a specific group of people, African Americans, and making it about me, a white male.  

On one hand, I’m a blogger, that’s what bloggers do, make everything about themselves.  They aspire to do it in a way that makes people see themselves in what’s been written, but there is a self-absorption inherent and even necessary in blogging. Last night, I wondered if I was making a mistake by writing about this quote in the way that I did.  Was I misinterpreting what Eugene Allen said?  Was there enough width to his comment that it could potentially inspire anyone who ever struggled with the idea of a dream being so unrealistic (at a certain vantage point) that one can’t see it as a possibility? 

Because I am obsessed with all thing Oprah, I woke up to an article on Yahoo about Oprah saying she was sorry that the recent Swiss store incident has turned into the international story.  It seems that in July, Oprah was in Zurich for Tina Turner’s wedding.  She went into a store and did not receive the customer service she hoped to receive.  She talked about the experience on a entertainment news show, while promoting The Butler and the story blew up.  The woman at the store retaliated with her own interview saying, “I don’t know why she is making these accusations.  She is so powerful and I am just a shop girl.”  Who really knows how the exchange went down.  Everyone has their side of any story and usually both people bear some culpability when bad behavior happens.  Could racial prejudice have played a part in this exchange?  Absolutely.  When I heard about the incident initially, I thought, oh, I’m sure it’s the shop girls fault.  You KNOW how Europeans are!  

If anyone was offended by my last post, I do apologize.  If anyone read it and thought, you don’t understand what it means to be black, you’re right, I don’t.  Sometimes I THINK I do, but ultimately, I don’t understand what it means to be black.  There is a saying that there is a black woman inside the soul of every gay man.  It’s glib, but I also think it’s kind of true.  I’ll never forget watching Fame and thinking that more than anyone, I wanted to be Coco.  I still want to be Coco.  (Arch your back a little, Coco.  Smile for me.)  I certainly don’t identify all that much with straight white males, I think nearly every one of my 73 blog posts affirms that statement.  If I am writing in a public forum, I am asking to be judged by words and my actions.  I hope I never come off as someone who sees himself as the expert about anything. I want to be part of the conversation, the dialogue. And if you are reading this, annoyed or not, and you read my last post, annoyed or not, AND you did not know who Eugene Allen was before you read my last post, I do feel that on some level, I succeeded because I’m really glad you know more about Eugene Allen. I’m also glad that, warts and all, you know a little more about me.

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3 thoughts on “Second Thoughts

  1. I’m actually very glad you posted the previous post. I also cannot claim an African American experience as my own, but that is the beauty of art (whether it be a movie, music, or the written word), it gives people an avenue by which to identify with the idea, story, or character. I was happy to have lived through the moment in history when America elected it’s first non-white president, but from my perspective it was nothing more than a historical marker. Being presented with Eugene Allen’s perspective allows me to comprehend a little better the magnitude and significance of this event for people who have been alive long enough to have lived through segregation. So thank you for sharing! I now want to see that movie too!

  2. You picked sensitive, vulnerable Coco (just undo another button or two) and then I thought who would I be? And I realized that I think I’m more Bruno, the piano player (even though I don’t play the piano). So there you have it: if you look hard enough, everyone can find themselves in Fame. Alright I know that was entirely not the point of the piece…. just sayin’.

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