/ Culture /
Poor as I am I have a drawer full of underwear: at least a dozen briefs: all too small for me because for decades I’ve steadily refused to admit that my waist size has not been thirty-two inches. I do the laundry, I notice a tiny hole in the cotton knit, then I notice bigger holes. Finally I go on a rampage, throw out all briefs with holes, tear at the holes, enlarge them: purge, purge. So I’m in WalMart, find the mens underwear section … don’t find any 34s: everything is 32-34, or 36-something. So I’m ready to re-entrench my denial about being fatter than 34, grab a three-pack of 32-34, and notice … Something’s wrong! Something is very wrong. What country am I in? Isn’t this WalMart? in Sebring? in Florida? in the United States? Isn’t it 2014 or some such year?
The image printed on the three-pack shows a good looking guy in his skivvies, but the guy is … mulatto! There have always been schwarzers, but they were excluded from advertising copy. I have always been uncomfortable being a WASP: I didn’t like other peoples less well than I liked WASPs. I din’t like WASPs at all, while I loved Louis Armstrong, and Kid Ory. If anything I thought AfroAmericans were superior: in music, in dance … in important thing after important thing. (And my fellow WASPs saw that, in an instant, and isolated me, and made sure I never prospered, could never get a word in edgewise.)
Nevertheless, though we whites understood, understood perfectly, that we were never a numerical majority, we were just the same the majority: the owners, the decision makers. We controlled the information, we edited the central mythology: God’s name would be decided … by us. God’s nature would be decided by us. … The facts of history weren’t facts until we approved them, immortalized them through the school system …
So how did I get a schwarzer on my underwear?
Partly it’s what I get for being poor. My darling Catherine, my late patron, patron from 1990 to 2004, insisted on shopping at Publix. Publix was a WASP store. Publix hired the cute blonds to be cashiers. Publix made sure that no wilting flower got startled by some brother glowering at them in the parking lot as he reaches to take their grocery cart: “Gimme that, White Lady, I’m rounding up de carts.” Me, I go to WalMart, will suffer any discomfort if I can save a penny: and WalMart has always been staffed by people they barely even let shop at Publix.
So tell me: these things, schwarzers on underwear packages, are decided by Haynes, by FruitoftheLoom … by Madison Avenue. Truth has never had anything to do with it; only profit.
The schwarzers … the Chinese, the Arabs … were born with American packaging on their underwear (those who bought American underwear): they didn’t not wear underwear because some white guy was on the package: however much they may have hated the white guy. Now suddenly the board at Haynes looks at their market demographics and decides that shares may go up if they sell whitey down the river! Jeez: how come this took so long?
Last year Twain got purged from libraries; next year will Dickens be forbidden?
Ha! Jan and I are reading Faulkner’s Light in August. Wow, it’s only my second reading, first since 1969 or so. If Huck Finn got censored by the WASP revisionists, how come Light in August didn’t? Or maybe it did: what do I know?
more in a bit