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It's A Family Affair

Posted 4/8/2009

The sophistication, suaveness, and nuance shown in Vincent Williams's latest column is impressive (Social Studies, April 1). I give homage to the slick way he managed to employ the old "I am not a racist but" canard without appearing to do so. Cleverly, he camouflages his views by employing a more emphatic, copiously worded but indirect denial of his beliefs: "Before we go any further, let me be clear: I am not trying to outright state or otherwise imply that I have some kind of beef with interracial relationships. In fact, it's just the opposite." Drowning his beliefs with excess verbiage, he successfully cloaked his feelings from City Paper's editorial staff.

He repeats the technique on the backside, ramping up the surplus wordage (108 words this time) and using a lot of words (having said that, I am also a staunch advocate of black love) to replace the measly "but." Additionally, he attached a historically inaccurate for his position that blames the media and the dominant culture rather than himself thus excusing his feelings. (For the record, slave owners loved slave families because married slaves tended not to escape or create trouble for fear of blowback against their relatives. Plus after the 1808 ban on the importation of slaves, "black love" (sex) became the only legal way to replenish America's slave population.) Bravo. Well done. Nobody will notice your Archie Bunkeresque feelings toward race mixing now.

Mr. Williams your problem is rather easy to explain. Simply tell your daughter that people of different races can fall in love. Then, let her know that is all right, but it would be best to marry a black guy because interracial relationships generate queasy feelings in daddy which he has to suppress so his politically correct liberal friends won't disown him. Also, do some research, there are and were plenty shows with black families in a variety of circumstances doing all right and even loving each other: the Hibberts (The Simpsons), the Winslows (Family Matters), the Huxtables (The Cosby Show), The Bernie Mac Show, the Sanfords (Sanford and Son), among many others. Wikipedia contributors have even created an alphabetized list for your use. It took like 60 seconds of research for me to find the list, use it for this letter, and then add this note mocking your lack of research skills.

To whoever is running the show at City Paper these days, publishing idiotic, under-researched tripe like this is b's domain and part of the trend that has propelled the newspaper industry off the precipice. I'd like City Paper to survive, but I've always got Urbanite.

Matthew Hood
Baltimore

Vincent Williams responds: While I'm impressed by the intellectual rigor that 'like 60 seconds of research' on Wikipedia reveals, of the five examples that you cite, one, Sanford & Son, actually did not really show a loving black man and wife, three have not been on television for an average of 10 years, and the final one is composed of rarely seen cartoon supporting characters. So, you kind of prove my point vis-a-vis the dearth of black couples on television. And as much as I respect your work as a slavery-era historian, I think I'm going to have to defer to the views of scholars like W.E.B. Dubois in The Negro American Family, E. Franklin Frazier in The Negro Family in the United States, and Robert William Fogel in Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery. They're long books, but I'm sure they have nice, short summaries of them on Wikipedia.

Correction: In last week's review of Sri Aurobindo's new album (Know Your Product, April 1), we mistakenly cited Replay as the album's label. Replay is the manufacturer of the CD's recycled digipak. The album is self-released. We regret the error.

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