It took me a few days to realize that George Takei's apology for the FaceBook post which offended a lot of black people was necessary and appropriate, and was not just an act on his part of being polite and sensitive, and/or of recouping PR.
After all (I was thinking), Takei didn't literally dress up in blackface, nor fail to acknowledge in his rant against Justice Thomas to allude to blackface as an evil, racist thing. He used it as a metaphor. He wanted to point up Justice Thomas' right wing leanings and, not just a little, to insult him. He was only referring to blackface as something racist that white racists do, right? Nothing wrong with that, right?
But I finally realized: Takei was correct to apologize because, as a non-black person, it's not his place to decide what blackface is appropriate use for in any way, literally or metaphorically. Nor is it my place to decide, as I was doing (however privately) during those few days I took to process this; even less so than for Takei, since I'm white and the oppression of black people is primarily accomplished by white people. It is not non-black people's prerogative to decide when or if blackface is appropriate even as a metaphor any more that it's appropriate for non-white people to use slurs that black people are reclaiming; or for any privileged people to use slurs that any marginalized people are reclaiming or are not reclaiming. (I for one gave up using the b-word about a year ago. Yeah yeah, you had no way of knowing ... but I think my point is clear.)
FaceBook isn't one of the social forums where I follow Takei so I don't know whether he has deleted the post with the offending remark, but I hope not. I wouldn't. Of course I'd add a great big abject apology at the top, and I'd give the apology a post of its own as well, and perhaps I could be persuaded to remove or edit the offending remark itself. But I don't believe in "depublishing". We don't learn from our mistakes by erasing them. Especially if they were made in public, we should leave them out for everyone to see, and learn.
Which is why I'm posting about what I did. So, if it should be that you've been thinking what I was thinking, please think again.
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