Since the political campaign season is in full swing, I thought now might be a good time to talk about lies. What I am referring to is the falsehoods, half-truths, misrepresentations of fact, and fabrications that have been handed down to us as Americans since we were children. From our first grade school history class to today’s front page of CNN, we are fed a line of bull that seems to have no end, and some of us keep believing it.
One of the biggest lies that we perpetuate as a nation is that America is a big “melting pot.” We want the rest of the world to believe that we are like a big pot of cheese fondue — a smooth and homogeneous mixture of cheeses of every color and cultural origin just waiting to be scooped up with a crusty slice of bread. In reality, we have more in common with Little Miss Muffet’s curds and whey, with the privileged floating above the less fortunate on a milky white cloud. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Mitt Romney.
Even our founding fathers were serving us a crap sandwich when they wrote that “all men are created equal.” If that line read “all rich white men are created equal,” I might buy it, but alas it does not. At least they didn’t try to suggest that all men and women are created equal. That would have been a laugh riot. How would they even begin to explain how I can work as hard or harder at the same job as a penis-equipped individual and still make less money? The old excuse that a man needs to make more to support his family doesn’t cut it anymore, now that the number of single-parent families headed by women is at an all-time high. The dirty truth is that equality in America is all talk and pretty much no action.
If all men are created equal, then why didn’t the US media provide equal coverage to a shooting that occurred in a movie theater full of predominantly white people and to the slaying of a group of foreign-looking people in their house of (non-Christian) worship? While the topic of the mass killing in Aurora, Colorado, was all over the internet, newspaper, and television news for nearly two weeks, the massacre of several Sikhs in their temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, an equally tragic event, received far less attention from both the press and those frequenting social media sites. Maybe it’s just a fluke. Maybe there were other things going on that were more newsworthy than the Oak Creek shooting. Or maybe most Americans just can’t (or choose not to) identify with people who don’t look or act or pray like them. Perhaps we are all just weary of the gun-related violence in our nation and instead we would rather direct our attention toward something more pleasant, like the Olympics for example.
The Olympic games provide hope and inspiration to everyone who attends the events or watches them on television or the internet (providing they have a really expensive monthly plan with one of the big digital television providers that includes NBC and MSNBC, otherwise you can’t watch — sorry!) The athletes have worked for years, in some cases decades, to master their individual sports, and it’s only natural that Americans would cheer for their hometown heroes. Why is it then, that when Gabrielle Douglas became the first African-American woman to win the gymnastics all-around gold medal, all anyone can talk about is her hair? Blacks and whites alike appear to have an opinion about whether Ms. Douglas’ hair is “too straightened,” “too kinky,” or just too black. Really? After watching her amazing performance at the games, this is what becomes news? Gabby herself put it best when she responded, “I just made history and people are focused on my hair?” Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see much attention given to the hairstyles of the other four American gymnasts who had their (Caucasian) hair pulled up in the same slightly messy ponytail/bun thingy. Again, we see the lie that is American equality. This fixation on Gabby Davis is not about her hair, it’s about her black hair. Her black girl hair that is somehow less than white girl hair, therefore making her somehow less than the white American gymnasts despite her incredible accomplishments.
The idea that Americans have become less biased in the years since women marched for the right to vote and Martin Luther King championed civil rights for all is just that, a nice idea. Racism, sexism, and homophobia, just to name a few, are alive and well in the good old USA, we’re just a little more subtle about it — a little more subtle. The owners of Chick-fil-A don’t post “no gays allowed” signs on their restaurant doors, but by now everyone knows they are not fans of the fabulous. And the use of the “N” word, albeit with an “a” instead of an “er” on the end, has become common among white boys who wear their pants around their knees, demonstrating their lack of spelling skills and fashion sense in addition to their racist nature. Don’t even get me started on the “Jesus loves everyone except you,” believers.
As the parent of two daughters who do not share my race or ethnic background (and yes, those are two different things!), I can only continue to teach my girls that they can grow up to achieve anything they want in life. They just have to be prepared to fight like hell for it. Now pass me a chunk of that pumpernickel — my fondue is getting cold.