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So here we are, those of us who partake, enjoying this miracle plant, and the subject of race comes up. Great, I need fodder for my column. As everyone should know, black people were only counted as a fraction of a human in the not too distant American past (3/5 to be exact). Not to be outdone, someone from the Jewish delegation one upped their black colleague by saying that at least they were a fraction human, unlike the Jews whom, as everyone should know, have been accused of descending from “apes and pigs” by another major world religion (and some Reichs of the past).
Then someone looked around the room and did the math. Everyone in the room was black, brown or Jewish except one person. And who do you think that was, dear reader? Of course it was I, your humble narrator, the exotically white guy.
What’s it like being the only human in the room? Fucking hilarious. And I wasn’t the only person laughing (although the image of me just laughing maniacally in a room full of people staring at me is almost better). And then someone, who didn’t find the whole situation funny, asked me why it was. And although as E.B. and Katherine White point out, “Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process,” I’ll try.
It’s the shear absurdity of racism. Years ago people were like “oh clearly this person standing next to me, speaking the same language as me, dressed in clothes/living/breathing/etc like me is a different species. Clearly.” And everyone else was like, “yeah, sure, what that guy says.”
And our modern audience will say that they aren’t anything like those racists of the past. Of course not! But today we live and participate willingly/unwillingly in a country were systematic racism sees black and white Americans use drugs at similar rates, yet blacks are imprisoned at 6 times the rate of whites. The modern racist says “oh clearly we should lock up a disproportionate percentage of the black/latino community for crimes in a clearly lost war on drugs.” And everyone else is like, “yeah sure, what that guy says.”
Let’s just hope that the revolution contained in these pages continues. And those black and brown men and women get let out of their cages, where they can finally be just as human as me.
Sam C. Long is not Mark Twain in this incarnation. He is a filmmaker, photographer, mischief maker. Samclong.com