Don’t Call Dr. Laura

On August 5, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

A serious repost.
A black woman married to a white man called Dr. Laura and told her she was growing resentful of her husband because he would not put an end to neighbors, friends and relatives saying the n-word and making other insensitive comments in front of her.

Dr. Laura didn’t answer the caller’s question. In fact, she berated the woman with the n-word 11 times and accused her of being hypersensitive. To make matters worse, Dr. Laura said most blacks voted for Barack Obama because he is half black, leaving the impression that blacks are single-minded. Way to go, Dr. Laura.

Dr. Laura later apologized for her remarks. It is clear to me she didn’t understand the topic and couldn’t possibly advise anyone who had a question about it. I don’t have 9 million listeners, but here is what I think.

The caller said a neighbor had come to her house and asked her why blacks do this or do that. Without getting upset, I would say something like this: I am not the spokeswoman for black people anymore than you are a spokesman for white people. I can’t tell you why some people act the way they do.

As for your husband, it’s time to have a very frank conversation about race and respect. I am concerned your husband, not your boyfriend or just a friend, would allow anyone to come in the house he shares with you and make insensitive remarks about you or your race. Please talk to him and tell him how the word or words make you feel. Let him know that you should feel comfortable and respected in your own home and such words are disrespectful and make you feel uncomfortable. I hope he hears you out and makes it clear to friends and relatives that such talk will not be tolerated.

If you are out there and somehow get this message, send an email to honeysmoke at honeysmoke dot com, find a group of sisters who are also married to white men or seek some professional guidance. You definitely shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable in your own home, and your husband should understand and stand up for you.

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  • taliba

    I actually heard that call months ago when Dr. Laura answered it. I couldn’t believe this woman called her in the first place but she did and Dr. Laura’s response was shockingly insensitive.

    I have gone throught this situation once: I had (notice had) a good friend I’d had for years say to me in general conversation: “I refuse to pick up after my husband….what does he think I am his n-___?!” Needless to say I was stunned! I remember looking into my good friend’s eyes trying to SEE if she realized what she had just said. She was originally from South America (I am African American and at the time I was in an interracial relationship with a Native American boyfriend). We had discussed many racial issues among other everyday issues. I didn’t respond initially because I was so shocked. I went home after that conversation and thought about it. Then I called her to tell her what had offended me about the conversation. The reason we are not now friends is because she could not understand why I took that word so hard. She actually told me it was just a word like “washing machine.” She could not understand the hurtfulness of this word to someone Black in the US. I couldn’t get over the fact that she couldn’t see that word for what it was. It ended up severely derailing our freindship because I could no longer trust her.

  • E A

    I would love to get your opinion on the following…My husband and I are a happy interracial couple (I’m black, he’s white) living in the South. Race is not an issue for us and this is how we hope to raise our kids. We’ve developed a friendship with a white couple who have been very good friends over many years and are in fact our children’s godparents. They were raised in the South by very traditional white families, and even though they seem to be very progressive, they prove that you can’t escape your past. Last year, the man was animatedly recalling a story and used the n-word to describe a group of people in his story. My husband and I were shocked and really didn’t know how to react. He went on with his story as if it didn’t happen, following which, we left. Discussing it in the car, my husband and I were more disappointed in him than angry. We briefly discussed whether or not we should talk to him about it, but decided against it. He hasn’t done it since, but it’s hard to forget. Any thoughts?

    • http://www.honeysmoke.com Honeysmoke

      Thanks for your question. It’s a tough one, but I will take a shot. My take on this is that you should always say something when something like this happens. It could be something simple like: Really? That’s the way you describe this group of people? It may not be the thing you want to say or thought you’d say, but you have to let the person know that you don’t appreciate that kind of language and that he shouldn’t feel comfortable using it in front of you.

      I was on a plane that was experiencing turbulence when the woman sitting beside me made a comment about the pilot’s race. I, too, was flustered and didn’t know what to say. I managed to get something out of my mouth that did not condemn her speech but hopefully let her know I didn’t appreciate it.

      Were your children there? I would not want to explain how my child’s Godfather used a racial epithet to describe Mommy’s people. (If he can’t see how his word may be hurtful to a group, he may see how it is hurtful to his Godchild.) The moment may have passed, and it may not have the same effect if you talk about it now. But if it ever happens again or if he’s joking about this story or some other opportunity presents itself, I’d take him aside and tell him. Keep it sweet, to the point and make sure your talk lacks emotion. If you stay cool, maybe he will follow suit. I wouldn’t do it in front of other people, if you can help it, because he’s likely to be embarrassed and may respond in anger. You may get more responses if I post this as a question to all Honeysmoke readers. Tell me what you think about that and thanks for asking.

      • E A

        Thank you. Our kids were not there. IF it happens again, and I hope it doesn’t, I plan to take your advice.

        Please repost. I’d love to hear what others think.

  • http://bethbadandbeyond.wordpress.com Beth

    You are smart, sensitive and savvy. Dr. Laura is an ignorant, insensitive racist. Nuff said.

  • jubilee

    The only way today we get rid of the ‘n’ word is to get rid of hip-hop or rap music. I was enrolling my daughter in HS, when i heard these guys call each other that, and they weren”t even black. I looked around and sighed….it wont go away soon and when your daughters are older, they would probably want to listen to ‘oldies’

  • http://existenceET.blogspot.com ET

    Oh. My goodness. As much as I’ve heard and read about “Doctor” Laura’s rant, this is the first time I have listened to the entire thing. Her level of insensitivity is astounding. I’m glad that the caller was bold enough to call her on it (if only she could do the same in the situations with her husband/family)(surprising that someone who seems fairly level-headed would be a Dr L caller in the first place). I don’t think it’s right for anyone to use that ugly word, but it’s especially offensive for someone to use it under the pretense that “it’s not hurtful, it’s funny.” What planet is she from?

    – existenceET.blogspot.com

  • Blanc2

    It’s difficult for me to fathom how a WM could be married to a BW and not be sensitive to that issue. There isn’t a chance that would anybody get away with that level of disrespect in our house. Schlessinger, by the way, is just weird. The old adage, “As long as they spell the name right, any publicity is good publicity.” That’s Dr. Laura. With those few seconds of air time she bought herself millions of discussions in the blogosphere, ultimately driving listers to her show.

  • http://www.happygirlhair.com Katie@happygirlhair.com

    Great advice Honeysmoke. I agree that our homes are our sanctuaries and the next step for the caller is a long talk with her husband.

    It amazes me that people call Dr. L. Years ago, I was forced to listen to her show at work. I remember that she would berate and abuse most of her callers.

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  • http://www.beyondblackwhite.com Chriselyn Karazin

    Thanks for chiming in on this topic and visiting my blog. I love connecting with mothers who are raising bi-racial children–I have three of those! As for Dr. Laura: I think your post illustrates the importance of having a support structure for black women in interracial relationships. We shouldn’t turn to that old bag for validation or advice, we should turn to a network of like-minding individuals who uplift, advise and support.

    • http://www.honeysmoke.com Honeysmoke

      No problem. Welcome to Honeysmoke.