Let’s get back to our current recurring contention that, with rare exception, even the most well-intentioned of politicians can only represent their own experience. And that postulate is never more apparent than when dealing with representatives of different races.
After all, we intrinsically tribal humans have a propensity to be somewhat monochromatic in our daily endeavors. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that our instinctual capacity to crave homogeneity has certain side effects.
And it was via a rather humorous conversation with Elgin City Councilwoman Tish Powell regarding the appointment of Rosamaria Martinez that this truth became self-evident.
As we were discussing the phenomenon, I mentioned that my lovely wife and I had had just been to see The Three Redneck Tenors at the Paramount Theater in Aurora. It was a really fun show, but considering all the showtunes, arias, and classical music involved, about halfway through I internally mused about just how “white” this kind of entertainment really was.
Sure enough, when I stood up at the intermission, the audience was entirely Caucasian. Despite the name, the show wasn’t racist in the least, it simply wasn’t something an African-American could generally relate to. They don’t come from that place.
More simply put, sometimes we white folks have rather strange tastes. Justin Bieber? Really?
But now let’s flip it around.
My private email address (until now) is firstname.lastname@example.org and not a single one of my white or Hispanic friends ever “gets it.” But Councilwoman Powell immediately understood that reference because of her experience as a black American.
Please! This was no great social experiment. But it is amusing that, while it goes right over white folks’ heads, it was utterly obvious to Tish. Don’t worry! I’m not going to ruin it for the rest of you! Feel free to take a stab at that reference yourself.
So when I contend that white councilmen can only represent the white experience, it has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with very nature of this existence. And that’s exactly why we need black, white and Hispanic faces on every city council.
If we all came from the same “place,” black folks would pay to see the Redneck Tenors and white folks would understand my email address.