Sometimes a game really is just a game (or should be).
Race relationships and racial issues/themes have been front and center since the death of George Floyd. American cities burned last summer. Police officers, local, state and federal, faced more physical harm from “mostly peaceful” race-focused protestors than I can recall seeing in recent years. Lives were lost and homes and businesses were destroyed.
Residents in neighborhoods across America lived in fear of riots. Heightened sensitivity to racial issues became the order of the day. Organizations like Black Lives Matter and antifa, aided by the establishment media, made sure everyone got the message of the new, woke racial catechism. You can read more about this in a recent post from my colleague, Elizabeth Vaughn, entitled, “The Introduction of Race as a Central Issue in American Politics Can Be Traced to an Aug 2019 Staff Meeting at The NY Times,” which discusses how racial issues were force-fed into the American political environment.
As I took my lazy Sunday afternoon to relax and unwind, I wandered over to the billiard table, which actually resides in my dining room. Picking up a cue, I turned to Mr. Narrator and with the forced nonchalance of someone who knows he will win, offered up a game of Eight Ball. To my satisfaction, he agreed. So here I am, ready to relax and enjoy the day, perhaps give my mind a chance to be completely away from the soul crushing, joyless and extraordinarily bleak state of race, the economy, politics and life-under-the-mask in today’s America.
Richard Edward: “Mr. Narrator, lets ignore the little observed rule of pocketing the 1 and 15 balls in their respective right and left corner pockets before the rest in the string. Let’s just play stripes and solids.”
(Truth be told, neither of us are good enough players to be sticklers about the minutiae of the game.)
Richard Edward: “Mr. Narrator, you are only seven balls plus the eight away from kicking my tail. Let’s see if you can do it this time”.
Mr. Narrator: “Richard Edward, I got you this time. I’ve been reading up about and learning about the Euclidean, spherical, and hyperbolic geometries. I’ve got the angles and spins all figured out. You are toast this time around, dude.”
I admit to being more than a little impressed. Mr. Narrator has never been much for homework or sounded so confident.
Balls are racked, Mr. Narrator takes the white cue ball and prepares to break. I notice the black eight ball is where it is supposed to be, in the center of the rack, surrounded by the other balls with their beautiful colorful stipes or rich solids. A beautiful array of diverse colors and patterns, all included in an organized structure, a pyramid, with all balls touching and supporting one another in their group.
In an instant, my lazy escape-from-reality-afternoon evaporates into a thought-provoking metaphor of life, sitting squarely in my living room. What in blazes, I can’t even play pool without the issues of race, diversity and inclusion intruding upon my game? I don’t ever want to be woke, at least ‘that’ woke.
I tell Mr. Narrator to hold on, we may have to postpone the game until we are able to fully understand the intersectionality of the color and shape of the balls, their numbers and how they are treated within the existing rules of the game. Not to mention the color of the table (black) and of the felt (gray) on the playing surface. And what about the very idea of hitting one ball with another just to bury it a pocket, to be discarded and forgotten for the remainder of the game; tossed away like its life doesn’t matter.
Mr. Narrator: “Richard Edward, you’re just scared to play me now that I’ve got the knowledge to crush you like the billiard bug you are.”
Richard Edward: “Mr. Narrator, it might be a different issue. I am white, using a blond cue. (Never having considered it before, I am not really certain about Mr. Narrator’s ethnicity). Might I be showing my white privilege if we play this game without regard to the societal implications involved? Am I woke enough to play this game?”
Mr. Narrator: “Wha…?”
Richard Edward: (Interrupts) “Mr. Narrator, just stop. Consider what you are doing. You are pounding on a white ball for each shot in the game, pummeling other balls of color and decoration; all the while purposefully avoiding the black ball until the very last shot in the game. You start by segregating the balls into two tribes, based solely upon their appearance.”
“Once you choose a preferred tribe, you ignore the other tribe completely, focusing only on the elimination of the tribe you have chosen. Once you have successfully eliminated the tribe you have chosen, you turn your focus to the elimination of the black ball. You always have to use the white ball. Only then do you get to pick which ball you hit and in what order.”
“You have complete control and nowhere does it say that you can’t smash one ball into side cushion or the other balls, even the ones you don’t care about. You can cause total chaos on the table. The balls can’t hit back. There is no place for them to hide. You own them and they are completely at your mercy. And when the game is over, you coldly rip the balls from their place of rest and set them up to be used, again and again.”
Mr. Narrator: “Richard Edward, you are more in need of a vacation from popular culture than any person I know. You do realize that not everything in life has a racial denominator don’t you? Sometimes a game is just a game.”
Mr. Narrator steps to the table and breaks open the rack with his first shot. The game is on.
If you think that the woke idea of white privilege and its attendant bogeymen of diversity and inclusion is causing an American Crisis, please leave a comment for Richard Edward to ponder.
— Richard Edward Tracy