Phaedra Parks

Phaedra addresses all the race issues that have played out on the show.

on Jan 27, 2011

Hello! I hope everyone's January has been productive and indicative of their New Year's Resolutions wish list.  While Sunday's episode edited our four day excursion into a 45 minute fiasco, it did not fully encompass how tense and uncomfortable this girls' getaway truly was.  The trip was planned in Cynthia's honor but as the old adage says, "Things don't always work out as planned." 

After watching the episode, several possible topics came to mind; the importance of financial planning as it relates to Cynthia and her wedding woes, house guest etiquette and NeNe's lack thereof, Kim and Sweetie's relationship or better yet, NeNe's slave barrage targeted at Sweetie.  In the shadow of Martin Luther King's birthday and in the wake of black history month, I decided race relations was the most poignant issue since last two episodes have flirted with this very sensitive topic. Is Kim a racist? Is Sweetie a modern day slave? Is NeNe being a bully as usual, or is she really concerned about Sweetie's well being? 

While everyone will have their opinion, as they are rightfully entitled to; personally, I do not think Kim is a racist, nor do I think Sweetie is a modern day slave. However, I do believe that NeNe is a bully and couldn't care less about Sweetie's well being. In this era of political correctness we often skirt around the hard topics, because we are afraid of offending others and do not want to be accused of being a racist. But avoiding sensitive issues does not change our country's history, which is fraught with the mistreatment of people of color. Admittedly, race relations have improved drastically over the past 40 years, but improvement does not heal the wounds caused by the aggregation of disparate treatment. As a person of color, I understand the ramifications of being denied rights, excluded and rejected. A modern day racist doesn't dress in white sheets or burn crosses, they are much more subtle and covert. Unlike Kim, a racist would not employ you or treat you like a family member, as she has with Sweetie. I had the opportunity to have several long conversations with Sweetie and Kim in Miami, and during those chats I realized that Kim and Sweetie have a sibling like relationship that spans well over a decade. My heart went out to Sweetie because as a woman of color, I know comments that evoke historical hatred can make you doubt what you know in your heart is true.  

Here's a thought, instead of taking the easy road under the guise of being politically correct and making hasty judgments about matters as serious as racism, we should face the issue and attempt to have transparent dialogue in the direction of resolve. Every culture is different and it's easy to adopt perspectives depicted via various mediums. Opinions do not constitute racism, nor does the way you treat a friend make you a racist. Racism says a whole group of people are inferior because of their skin color and they should not be treated equally. Being politically correct does not change the existence of poor race relations; it just gives us an acceptable mask to hide behind rather than address any real issues. In the words of Pierre Berton, "Racism is a refuge for the ignorant. It seeks to divide and to destroy. It is the enemy of freedom, and deserves to be met head-on and stamped out."