So, as most of you know, super White dude Daniel Handler dropped some nasty, racist, watermelon joke BS at the 2014 National Book Awards ceremony after Jacqueline Woodson (who is Black) accepted her Young People’s Literature award for Brown Girl Dreaming. Handler, the writer of the Lemony Snicket series, has since apologized and is donating money. I personally think he should donate WAY more.
Super White dude Roger Sutton stepped into the conversation and penned this gloriously privileged, patronizing, and WTF article:
I wasn’t at the event and can’t bring myself to watch the video because I know it would have me writhing in empathetic embarrassment. So all of my information is from the transcript and subsequent internet outrage. And what I’m left with—even more than my happiness at Jackie Woodson’s win—is how sorry I feel for Handler, and how easily I could have fallen into the same trap. (I confess to some impatience with all the talk of him stealing Her Moment because Woodson is getting a way longer moment than any children’s National Book Award winner has ever gotten before. Quickly, who won last year?)
The last sentence is super rich, right? Woodson is lucky someone made racist jokes about her? Eff that, and eff the coverage by the mainstream media (generally run by White dudes). Award winning poet Nikkey Finney writes:
What was spit and spoken out into the celebratory New York City night was bigger than Daniel Handler’s racist joking comments and Jacqueline Woodson’s stunning marvelous win.
News reports immediately called the comments “unfortunate.” Really? That’s it? That’s all you have to say?
What was spit and spoken, was spit and spoken, into a National Book Award microphone, in front of a National Book Award logo, and launched out into a world that hears such “unfortunate” comments all the time and rarely does anything to try and make it right, in order to abort the next racist moment to come, rarely steps into the moment courageously, by saying something, anything, about it, no matter who said it, but decides instead to simply wait for the present “unfortunate” storm to pass so that we can get back to life as normal.
Life as “normal” for this Black girl’s life has meant that every day in America I have to be prepared to endure the shotgun fire of old watermelon jokes aimed at my heart and my life. After the shotgun fire of these “unfortunate” words I am then told to stand there and “let it sink in” as if it wasn’t already lodged beneath my skin like a spray of bullets and then I am expected to just move my broken Black girl heart along. The old LP record starts to play: Pick up some Duck tape on the way home Black girl, bandage up your wounds for the umpteenth million time—you’ll be fine in the morning.
h/t Tami Lee, who pointed me to the latter two articles.