Sunday, March 26, 2006

Elderly Get a Pass on Racism

The current issue of The Week has a story on Eva Longoria's new love. My first thought was "Who is Eva Longoria?" It turns out she's one of the stars on Desperate Housewives. I almost stopped reading, because I find I retain more brain cells when I ignore celebrities, but kept reading and found out that she is in love with Tony Parker, the point guard for the San Antonio Spurs.

Here's the kicker:

The two are now talking marriage, but there's just one problem: Her very traditional, 95-year-old grandma doesn't know that Parker is black. But Longoria has a solution. "We'll just tell her that he's French."

Is this supposed to be funny? Oh, ha ha, we have to protect old racist granny from the fact that a black man is marrying into the family. They're going to tell her that he's French? What?

There are two related societal standards that really chap my ass:
1) Don't speak badly about the dead.
2) Don't ever upset the elderly.

The first standard is easily dealt with. If you don't want people to speak badly about you when you're dead, then don't be a hateful, nasty pusbag when you're alive. The second standard is trickier. Someone who is 95 years old does have more pressing health concerns than a younger person. So if a family member is awaiting biopsy results, it's probably best to wait until you have the test results before telling grandma or grandpa. Spare the elderly person the worry if you can.

However, this doesn't mean that you can be as awful as you want to be once you reach a certain age. If granny is a racist puke, then she needs to be called on it. I don't care if someone is 5, 15, 55, or 105. Racism must be confronted and challenged. "We don't want to upset a 95-year-old." Sure, I don't want to upset someone who is so old they could die from the stress of bad news or an argument. But granny shouldn't have gotten to this advanced age without being challenged on her hateful beliefs. She should have found out that other family members were highly offended by her racist views, and that she either needed to change, or to shut up about it.

Instead, the Longoria family is going to work to protect racist granny's feelings. I wonder if anyone is considering Tony Parker's feelings. Age is supposed to bring wisdom. This story is further evidence that sometimes, age just solidifies hate.


Suebob said...

I grew up with a racist dad. He was kind of equal opportunity, having slurs for people of all racial backgrounds, including our own. It always seemed silly to me.

It is one of the great joys of my life to see how crazy he is about his great grandkids, one of whom is half Black and one of whom is half Latino. He has pretty much shut up about the racist BS finally.

spotted elephant said...

It's nice when the family situation leads to growth instead of rejection.