It's 2009. Near the corner of Future and Fucked, a group of men in battered work clothes is standing. Everybody in this group has a pocket communicator/computer more powerful than anything imagined in the original Star Trek: a device that they can use to talk to anybody else anywhere on the planet, listen to a whole day's worth of music or pick out new music recommended for them by computers, or read any document in a computer network that contains close to the sum of all recorded human knowledge. Every man on this corner holds a piece of The Future in his pocket. And what are they doing here? They're waiting to see if any white contractors will come by to hire them for a day's work, cheap immigrant labor building the Brave New World one luxury condominium at a time.
A couple of blocks away, a multiracial group of people is marching towards Future Street chanting for immigration reform, while a decidedly melanin-challenged group is waiting for them at the corner of the town green, holding signs and chanting their own slogans: “No amnesty here”. “Go home – we didn't invite you”. “We support our cops!” and “it's not about race”.
Of course it's not about race. We're postracial, you know? We have a black President who is working harder than any white President we've had in the last thirty years to rebuild this country's image with the rest of the world. And none of us, I swear to God, even notice that he's black. We just feel compelled to add, whenever he does anything right, that he's also part white. And comment on how very, very lucky he is. And the fact that he has swagger. Not that he's, you know, black or anything. We don't see color here. It's just a fact that the POTUS has swagger, and we're delighted. We're not Othering him, stop being so sensitive.
Dude also spends a lot of time trying to help everybody else in this country get better access to health care, even poor people and black people. The latest response to this from people who don't want everyone to have health care is to print posters of the President in computer-altered whiteface to make him look like a popular comic book villain and call him a socialist. Because socialism, obviously, is going to blow up our hospitals, set violent prisoners free to attack Decent People at their whim, and wear fabulous purple Italian shirts. But it's not about race. Did you not hear how postracial we are here? We even have a Latina Supreme Court justice, who only had to go through seven circles of hell to convince white audiences that she was just as qualified as any of the other Supreme Court justices. It had nothing to do with the fact that she's a Latina.
On the corner of Future and Fucked is a theater that plays mostly science fiction and fantasy movies, these being the most popular cinematic genres in our Brave New Postracial World. The latest SF megahit spent a couple hundred million dollars to show us that even super-advanced robots from another galaxy don't know how to read if they're black. In the Fantasy section, the most popular media phenomenon since Harry Potter is telling us that beautiful, sparkling white heroes are sensitive, misunderstood, highly intelligent supernatural beings, and Native Americans are biologically unable to control their emotions, to the point where they will force themselves on our beautiful white heroines. They just can't help themselves, you see. Because they're animals. This is not about race. God, it's just a fantasy. Would you lighten up?
We have a huge new chain bookstore here, instead of the grotty-looking old independent bookseller that went out of business a few years ago. In the Young Adult section of the bookstore, alongside the books about the sparkling white vampires, we're selling a book called “Liar”, about a young black girl who is a compulsive liar. On the cover is a – young white girl? Yes. The book is called Liar, and the cover is one. You see, books with black people on the covers don't sell. This wasn't a racist marketing strategy. It's just about the money. And if a few black kids miss out on one of the very few YA books on the market that even have black protagonists, it's just too bad. I mean, most of those kids don't even read anyway.
No, don't look at me like that. It's true. Why else would black kids score 26 points lower than white kids on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, even after all these years of No Child Left Behind? Why would that education gap actually be widening in some states, like Connecticut? It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that, according to the Connecticut Board of Education, 18% of all black students in CT were suspended or expelled from school in 2007, compared with 16% of Latino students and, would you believe, a whopping 4% of all white students? No, I seriously doubt that discriminatory public school discipline policies have anything to do with those test scores. It's just that, you know, black kids don't read. Dude, this was even in Transformers. It isn't racist.
On the town green near where I work, a white woman is holding up a sign that says: “We support our police department.” Her friend's sign tells me this isn't about race. I assume they are protesting the immigration march and defending the rights of the red-blooded, All-American police officers who have allegedly been harassing non-white residents of this town for years now. Since those very same police officers are currently watching over the scene, I decline the opportunity to confront the protesters as I walk down Fucked Avenue to meet my wife. But I still wave and clap for the marchers that I pass on their way to the green. I seriously doubt they can make this town change, but I wish them all the best.
It's 2009. For some of us, including the majority of people on this site, it's a sparkly bright future. For some of us, it's just as fucked as it always was, and worse in some ways because we're all so very very postracial now. Here are a few of the things I've heard from white people in “postracial” America: What institutional discrimination? Haven't you heard about the No Child Left Behind act? What segregation are you talking about? There aren't any whites-only toilets here. Some of my best friends are African-American. I don't even see color. When did I ever do anything against a black person? I have no white privilege, I'm poor as dirt. I should have been born African-American. I can't believe these people are still playing the race card. You know, statistically, most violent crime is actually black on white? What discrimination against Native Americans? Those guys are richer than Jesus now, with all the casinos they run. And my great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess, and I haven't even asked them for my share of the casino money, that's how postracial I am. What glass ceiling? Don't you know we have a black President?
America, we need to talk.