I usually don’t comment on race issues because, hello, cracker, but I’ve been reading the Chait-Coates debate (here, here, here, here, here and here) and surrounding commentary with interest. Now Sully has piped up, and some of his readers are concerned that Coates has grown fatalistic on the prospect of the USA ever transcending its white supremacy framework.
One Sully reader (whose comment was front-paged) believes Coates’ pessimism about America is “an overreaction to the Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis tragedies along with the uglier aspects of the Tea Party movement… It’s up to writers to rise above our emotional outrage and to not take isolated — yes, these were isolated events — and stretch them until they cover from sea to shining sea.”
Coates responds to that idea in detail here and ends with a link to the Serenity Prayer.
To reiterate, I generally choose to keep my opinions on racial issues to myself on the grounds that the supply of middle-aged white person commentary on that topic far outstrips demand. But as the mother of a teenage daughter, I empathize with Coates’ anxiety for his teenage son.
I also empathize with his pessimism — realism may be closer to the mark — about the prospect that the burden of Otherness will ever be lifted. Gender bias doesn’t form a perfect analog to racism, as people far more learned than I have explained in detail elsewhere.
But yeah, I know what it’s like to look at a group of laughing, incredibly brilliant teenage girls and realize that there’s a statistical likelihood that a quarter of them will be sexually assaulted during their lifetimes and to know that there’s a 100% chance that their ideas and skills will be undervalued during their professional careers strictly because of their plumbing. Even if we have come a long way, baybee.
The patriarchy? We’re soaking in it. White supremacy? As Coates says, “It is but the rain.” The Serenity Prayer is as sane a response to that as any (except for the God part!).