The Waterboy and January 6th: Call a Thing By Its Name, Please
At times, I am simply outraged by our leaders’ refusal to call domestic terror by its real name.
I have a guilty pleasure: Adam Sandler movies. When I want to relax, I can pull on a pair of pajamas, grab a bag of Doritos, and watch Adam Sandler movies one right after the other. I have to admit that of the Sandler line-up, The Wedding Singer is my favorite. My second favorite is The Waterboy.
I have to admit, every time these two movies come on television, I watch them. There is one particular scene that was cut out of the MTV version that disturbed me. The coach called the kicker and told him to visualize the ball so that he can be sure to get the winning field goal. In the original film, the obviously Black player at an obviously integrated, Predominantly White Southern institution, visualized the head of a Ku Klux Klansman. When he visualized kicking that Klansman, the ball went between the field goal, and the Mud Dogs won! It was a hilarious scene. MTV cut it out.
I am not sure what harm this visual would have done America, but the editors at MTV thought it better not to risk hurting the feelings of Klansman than to let the scene stay. And this brings me to my point. Why do our leaders hesitate to call white supremacist-inspired violence what it is? It is domestic terror. And since the days of Reconstruction, people of color have lived with it inside the borders of the United States of America while our leaders have REFUSED to call it by its proper name. In refusing to name it, they have refused to claim responsibility for it. In refusing any national responsibility for homegrown, domestic terror, our leadership has failed to pass any legislation or reform against it — especially when it comes to recognizing the humanity of Black and brown peoples.
I have been following the news stories and the language around the January 6th attacks on the people’s house. And I knew without the news ever having to state that nothing was going to get done about it. Our leadership, before one arrest was made, was already performing linguistic gymnastics in order to avoid calling a thing by its name. Domestic terror.
Throughout history, white racial violence has skirted being called what it is. For example, we are supposedly coming clean about the racial violence that leveled Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was leveled by white racism and hatred. Yet, in 2021, it is still being called a “Race Riot.”
Many sources try to pinpoint the exact cause of the violence in Tulsa. Many historians continue to study it. No one comes to one, definitive answer. What most historians agree upon is that Tulsa was a segregated community. It was segregated, because the city laws and ordinances demanded that it be so. Rather than agitate for integration, the Black citizens of Tulsa went about forming a community, educating their children, making money, and prospering the businesses that they opened. In a fit of rage, a white mob attacked that side of the city, leaving untold numbers of dead, Black bodies, and a land-grab when it was all over. The survivors and descendants of survivors received no reparations and even today, with the government acknowledging that these people were the victims of white domestic terror, the government is hesitant to pay them reparations.
So, yet again, our country misses an opportunity to take responsibility for and address the race-based domestic terror that has been with us formerly since 1866. Our leadership refuses to call a thing by its name. And in doing so, whether they are Democrat or Republican, they are also refusing to recognize the humanity of Black and brown people. Once again, both scientific racism and domestic terror when.
In order to solve a problem, don’t we have to name the problem? If we can’t do something as simple as call its name honestly, if we can’t even leave a comical scene of racial retribution in a movie on MTV, how will we ever earnestly solve it?
These are my observations on how people refuse to use language and engage it at the national level. I will be back shortly with a second one.