Still, a couple of the questions provoked a bit of aggressive back and forth between the former Secretary of State and the Senator though, thankfully, there was no needling each other about the sizes of their respective anatomical parts.
But there was one question I found both interesting and problematic for the candidates, this question asked by moderator Don Lemmon: What racial blind spot do you have?
I thought the question was interesting because it called for introspection and, if answered honestly, humility on the part of the candidates to admit to a human failing; and I thought it was problematic because how can one know what one's blind spot is while one is blind to it?
Clinton and Sanders answered the question each as the best they could, each recounting personal experiences that they believed opened their eyes to the existence of the racial bias experienced by people of color in this country.
But while the candidates were talking about the moments that made them aware of their racial blind spots I found myself recalling the recent moment that opened my eyes to a racial blind spot of my own.
My blind-but-now -I-see moment arrived for me last week - as I'm guessing it might have for a few other Americans - while listening to comedian Chris Rock's remarkable Oscar monologue, specifically when he offered his take on racism in Hollywood:
Is Hollywood racist? You know, that’s — that’s a — you know, you got to go at that at the right way. Is it burning cross racist? No. Is it fetch me some lemonade racist? No, no. It’s a different type of racist...Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like — “We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.” That’s how Hollywood is.
And so is everywhere else! thought I. Chris Rock's cleverly chosen words were for me an epiphany, and suddenly I understood why an African American friend once rolled her eyes when I opined that, though there was still racial injustice int his country, at least things were better than they once were.
I was talking about "burning-cross-go-fetch-me-some-lemonade" racism. My friend was talking about "sorority racism" and all it encompasses, the things one can only understand who's ever been denied entrance to the club.
Last Saturday night I went to see "Race" ,
On my way to the theater I was following several yards behind two black teen-aged girls who probably didn't know I was behind them when one said to the other, "See? They put the black movie at the back of the building!"
She was joking, but Chris Rock's "Sorority Racism" metaphor flashed by my mind, which is probably what propelled me to hurry ahead and grab the door for them, since, typical kids, their hands were full with popcorn and soda.
The girls thanked me politely and I said, "Oh, you're welcome, dears, I know how it is when your hands are full."
They thanked me again and ended up finding two empty seats in the crowded theater next to the seat that Tom had saved for me.
Then we were just four polite humans sitting next to each other in a movie theater, and when the lights went out we all lost our identity for two hours in the dark, all of us absorbed by the light and images on the screen.