I admit it. I’m ashamed. Truly, I didn’t mean it. I was just a dumb sixth grader who didn’t know any better. It was 1981 and the show was one of the hottest on TV.
I wasn’t the only one, either! Everyone at school dad one!
I’m talking about my “Dukes of Hazzard” lunchbox. It had Bo, Luke, and Tasty Daisy in her “jorts” on the front. It had the car… with the flag! Yes, THAT flag! That hateful symbol of a defunct country that existed for four years some 150+ years ago. There it was on top of the car with the name “General Lee” on it!
What could my mother have been thinking when she gave in to my demands for it? How could she do such a thing? Does that make her racist? No one seemed to mind back in ’81 and now it’s on the Wrong Side of History.
I liked watermelon, orange soda, fried chicken. I indulged in them all. How could I?
Cripes, they used to run the Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles on TV and leave in all the “N” words while cutting out the bean fart scene—the scene that gave the movie its name. Figure that one out! And I LOVED that movie! How could anyone love a movie like that?
I was also a fan of the Fat Albert show on Saturdays. Fat Albert, a black stereotype. Big. Fat. Along with Mushmouth and Tall, Skinny, Weird Harold. How dare I watch that show. Nevermind that it was created by a black man. What matters is that it’s wrong now! Again, on the wrong side of history.
I liked watermelon, orange soda, fried chicken. I indulged in them all. How could I? I had no business doing that! I should have boycotted, especially since I was a boy and used to eat in bed, it may not have been a cot but that doesn’t matter! I had a chance to take a stand and instead I just lay there in bed watching Good Times and drinking Kool-Aid. I was just digging a hole for myself to crawl into once I realized some 35 years later that it was so, so, so on the wrong side of history!
I liked The Jeffersons. I liked Richard Pryor and his “scared N-word routine.” I liked “What’s Happening?” I liked “The Fat Boys.” All along I thought I was non-racist. After all I was a fan of stereotypical black humor. I thought that made me hip, modern, non-racist. I would correct my mother whenever she said “colored.” “Mahhhhhhhhm! It’s ‘black,' not ‘colored'!” I know, I should have said African-American. Looking back now I see I was no better than she! Shit!
I loved it when Arnold said “Watcha talkin’ bout Willis?” on Diff’rent Strokes. I would actually wait for one of those scenes. Then there was the band Earth, Wind, & Fire. I thought I was cool liking them but in reality I was being patronizing. Even as a 4-year-old watching Sesame Street I thought how nice it was of Gordon, the scary black man with the bald head, to work so hard at being gentle so I wouldn’t be afraid of him. What a little asshole I was!
The White Shadow and its real life counterpart, the NBA–oh how I loved watching basketball even though I didn’t care who won.
And what about Leave It to Beaver and all those whitey white shows without a single black person on them! I didn’t notice! Leave It to Beaver didn’t even have a maid! Not even a maid! The Jeffersons at least had a maid. Wait a minute, back up, oh, nevermind!
And that lunchbox. That damn lunchbox. The car all over it and the flag all over the car! I may as well have come to school in my bedsheets. I may as well have cut eyeholes in my pillowcase and stuck it over my head! How could I have a Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox and call African-Americans “black people” and eat stereotypical black food and like TV shows which either showed black people in today’s stereotypical roles or used racial slurs? What was my 1981 self thinking??
There’s not much I can do now. The damage is done to my psyche. I can no longer shake the hand of an African-American without thinking what a fraud I am. I’m no liberal. I’m not even a libertarian. I’m like all the other Caucasians who say that some of their best friends are people of color. I have no right to show up at a Black Lives Matter rally, I should just put on a Make America Great Again cap and go police the border. Because my fate is sealed.
I’m on the wrong side of history. I had a Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox!