NOTE: Today’s post is the 599th since I started this project in October, 2015. I have spent much too much time thinking about the focus or subject of #600. I want it to be memorable, if not monumental. Maybe an update on past topics. Or a mea culpa reminding readers “FWIW” was occasionally zero, considering all the things I got it wrong over the past five years. Or a philosophical piece questioning whether there is blog-life after Trump. Or even an announcement that I am passing the torch to a new generation of bloggers when my GoDaddy hosting contract expires next spring.
But today I am inspired by former RNC chair Michael Steele, who yesterday reminded us the key to November 3rd is focus. Make the election about Trump’s apocalyptic failure to address the pandemic. All his “dumb ass comments” are noise which do not deserve our attention. They should be ignored by Joe Biden and the media. A clarion call to a frustrated satirist turned blogger. If not Trump, someone else needs to step into the arena and produce “dumb ass statements” worthy of note. Challenge accepted.
Do you have any sense that that privilege has isolated and put you in a cave to a certain extent, as it put me, and I think lots of White, privileged people in a cave?
In the ultimate example of Donald Trump’s ability to project his own attitudes and behavior, he responded to Woodward’s question by accusing the Pultizer Prize winning author of being a captive of the “woke” movement. “You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you Just listen to you. Wow.”
Certainly not what I would have said. But Woodward’s question made me wonder if I too sported a pair of white privilege blinders. While I have yet to come up with a definitive answer to that specific query, I did learn something else this week. I definitely have a mental blind spot which demonstrates how cultural experience and references affect how black and white Americans might view the same situation differently.
This epiphany followed a September 17, 2020 story in Footwear News about Kamala Harris’ choice of (drum roll) footwear during a trip to California to observe the wildfire damage and efforts to bring the disaster under control.
For a visit to one of the sites of California’s wildfires near Fresno on Tuesday, Harris was seen talking with Governor Gavin Newsom wearing a pair of Timberland boots.
The TwittterSphere and other social media sites heralded the story as an iconic cultural moment, something I did not understand until reading Brooke Leigh Howard’s column in The Daily Beast.
Timberland boots have come to be an emblem of the Black community, and this week—after a much-buzzed-about photograph of her stepping off a plane in California—vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris has owned that statement.
The move was unapologetically Black. For me, it is the kind of move that signals that I can be Black without having to code-switch.
NOTE: Code-switch is a term used to describe the need for a person of color to tone done appearance or behavior in the company of whites. Example: Switching from urban radio to a Top 40 station when carpooling with white co-workers.
I had no idea. My first inclination? What was she supposed to wear to a wild fire? Stilettos? But it did not take long before I came to the conclusion this fashion statement fell within a more familiar cultural context. As I so often do, I reverted back to the white person’s handbook Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Seinfeld.
Of course, my last cultural recollection of Timberlands was from the November 20, 1997 Seinfeld episode “The Betrayal.” Seinfeld fans often refer to this unique story about the gang traveling to a wedding in India as “The Backward Episode.” Jerry introduces George to his platonic friend Nina, after which George asks Jerry to “fix me up with her.” There is only one hitch. George is wearing a new pair of Timberlands when he first meets Nina, which make him look taller. The following conversation ensues.
GEORGE: Wait a minute. Nina just saw me in my Timberlands! Now I have to wear them every time I see her.
GEORGE: In any other shoe, I lose two inches. I can’t have a drop down. We were eye to eye. I can’t go eye to chin.
That must be it. Kamala Harris is five feet two inches tall. Her Timberlands make her look taller, especially knowing she would be photographed with California governor Gavin Newsom (6’3″).
Except it wasn’t. So let me take this opportunity to thank Ms. Howard for this moment of cultural sensitivity training. The only question left is how Donald Trump or his campaign will use this information to smear Harris. I expect they will flood social media with ads suggesting Senator Harris is unfit to be vice-president because she is “lifting.”*
*For non-Seinfeld aficionados who may not understand this reference, check out the Wikipedia article titled, “The Stand In (Seinfeld).”
For what it’s worth.