I heard a story on Marketplace radio today. Well, not a story. They don’t do stories anymore. It was a “piece” and in this “piece” one reporter was interviewing another. The second reporter kept talking, in almost tearful tones, about how all the people displaced by the hurricane from New Orleans were grateful for everyone’s generosity but what they really wanted was jobs. He kept on and on about how they wanted jobs, giving examples and anecdotes to back up his assertion. Eventually, I found myself asking, what in the hell is it with this guy? Of course they want jobs, they don’t have any money and you get money by getting a job. WTF?
Then suddenly, with the force of revelation, it dawned on me: They’re black! That’s why he was talking about it as though it were news. Despite all the lip service he paid at cocktail parties over the years to the notion of equality, blacks wanting jobs was news to him and, he presumed, to all the other people who listened to public radio — white people, like the ones at the cocktail parties, the ones he talked to about how blacks were super. But now he was grateful, so grateful. Blacks wanted to get jobs.
Later on, at home, thinking about it again, his eyes welled up with such tears that he could barely make out his silk screen of Bob Marley. So relieved.