I was hoping this blog wouldn’t turn into a “race” blog, but there are some things that I can’t ignore. I have to address three disturbing social trends.
Please Tell Me How This Classifies As Racism
1. The first example is used by naive, ignorant or apologists people in an attempt to pacify or dismiss incidents of racism/prejudice or claims thereof by using a narrow definition of racism. Case in point, here’s a note posted by a user named Brian on the weblog Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist, in regards to the author’s experience of discomfort at a rodeo in Wisconsin in which a performer dressed in a Rastafarian wig pretended to be President Obama:
Merriam-Webster defines racism as: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” How does someone wearing a wig and cracking jokes along the lines of the issue of his alleged non-citizenship and his approval become racist. I have nothing against a man because of his skin color, in fact I have friends that are mexican, asian, black, etc. That doesn’t prevent me from laughing at a good Obama joke because of his policy, the frenzy of his disputed citizenship, as long as it doesn’t cross the line of saying he’s inferior because he’s black.
Notice how the reader also tossed in the “I have black friends” disclaimer so commonly utilized by racists or people accused of racism. It seems the user, and many like him, think that in order for words or people to be racist, they must suggest a person of another race is racially inferior. This narrow and erroneous definition conveniently ignores “hatred” and despicable stereotypes aimed at ridiculing and degrading a person’s culture and skin color. Furthermore, a person who expresses humiliation and discomfort as a result is dismissed as “thin skinned,” since the mockery is deemed funny; yet, I suspect psychologists may disagree.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 12 and injured 31 of his fellow soldiers in Fort Hood, Texas back in November of 2009. One of things suggested in the media coverage was that Major Hasan had been the subject of ridiculing because of his religion and ethnicity. (By no means does this justify the senseless shooting). The point is to show that ridiculing based on skin color is still dangerous. It may be likened to bullying based on race rather than general bullying. Society doesn’t condone general bullying (see: Columbine), so why would racial bullying be tolerated?
The proponents of racial mockery are the first to complain about “reverse racism,” yet they refuse to recognize that resorting to baseless stereotypes and derogatory humor about a person’s ethnicity, for no other reason than that they can, is racism. Can you make fun of a political leader who is not your ethnicity? Yes. However, there is a difference between making fun of Obama’s policy and attitude and making fun of blacks, using stereotypical black slang, culture, behavior, etc. What’s the connection between President Obama and Rastafarianism? None. Rastas, however, are perceived as dirty, drug-addled, non-Christian and Afrocentric. Make of this what you must.
I’m Not Racist; It’s my Preference or It’s Just Politics
2. And then there’s the use of “politics” and “preference” as guises for racist/prejudice attitudes, while denying racial prejudice and wrongdoing. The “politics” excuse is mostly used when it comes to criticizing President Obama. Remember the ridiculous Teaparties of 2009 or the annoying “Birthers”? Despite the over the top rants, shouted between posters of Obama dressed in an African tribal skirt with a bone in his nose and swastikas painted on walls, the protesters insisted it was only Obama’s policies they were protesting.
Or, consider these rants from a poster on IMDB.com’s Avatar board:
Zoe’s beautiful, despite my lack of attraction for blacks. Zoe’s is hot for a black chick. She’s one of those rare beautiful blacks. And to all the blacks, quit being so sensitive. I’m giving her a compliment Cuz she is a hot black girl. like I said, beautiful black chicks are rare. The black woman rarely looks better than the white woman. I reviewed my posts and I never said anything offensive. Blacks are so sensitive. Its not racism, its facts:
This poster, troll or not, had supporters who “agreed” with him and who attempted to explain that he was not being racist or offensive, but merely showing preference. Of course, anyone with a single functioning brain cell know this argument is futile. There’s a fine line between preference and racism/prejudice and this person clearly blurred that line; intentionally, too, I might add. Insisting that he’s being honest, not racist and simply has a preference, and having a preference doesn’t make him racist would be laughable, if there weren’t people who believed it. The arrogance of such a person, to think they can hide behind the “preference” argument is astounding. He insisted on insulting black women and degrading their looks in order to show his preference [for Megan Fox], despite never having to subscribe to such nasty assumptions and beliefs. The posters who called him on his degradation of black women were accused of turning a mole into a mountain and playing the ‘race’ card. They were asked, objectively, to identify what was racist or wrong about his having a “preference,” which is laughable, because it meant to suggest they were insisting on ‘common sense.’ Sadly, no one is being fooled by attitudes like this, and pretending as if they’re fooling anyone is an insult, but only to the intelligence of people who know better. The poster clearly meant to degrade black women and their looks, which is racist. And, I might add, he, like the poster on Penelope’s blog, also tossed in the disclaimer: “I have black friends,” but also, “My ex was Hispanic.”
Guilty White Liberals or ‘Nigger Lovers’
3. The “Guilty White Liberal” or “that political correctness crap” dismissal. Both are used mainly by white Conservatives to dismiss concerns and uproar over racist behavior and attitudes. The “political correctness crap” is also interpreted as an expression of “common sense” or reason. The proponents of this see it defiance in the face of social “wussy-ness.” They arrogantly offend because they can. They call it being real. Attempts to show tolerance, understanding or respect to a person of another faith, ethnicity or culture are dismissed as political correctness, which they hate. Proponents of this belief, for example, argue for the right to use the word ‘nigger’ since blacks (black rappers) use it; likewise, they have a fondness for the the word’s milder variant, Negro.
Recently, Glenn Beck, the raging lunatic of FoxNews, defended the U.S. government’s decision to keep “Negro” on the 2010 Census by saying many older blacks identify with it. I have had many ‘debates’ with message board posters who argued that “Negro” is just the Spanish word for black, so they’ll keep using it to describe people of indigenous African descent, despite the disassociation between black people and the word. This ‘arrogant’ mentality is typical of whites; particularly white Conservatives, who consider themselves not only real, but powerful enough to control the existence of non-white peoples.
They’re essentially arguing for the “right” to offend and be offensive.
Why do they want to offend so badly? Isn’t this the real brain teaser? To give them the benefit of the doubt is naive. These are the same people who consider themselves the “traditional” values citizens. Many of their ancestors were supporters of slavery and/or Jim Crow segregation. Of course, not all these people are racists. But it’s difficult to say who is and isn’t when they mingle together and use the same talking heads to express their unified views, the subtext of which reeks intolerance and prejudice.
Furthermore, white people who disagree and call their fellow whites on these sorts of beliefs/behavior, such as the blogger Penelope Trunk, are often dismissed as “guilty white liberals.” It’s a modern, more polite way of saying “nigger lover.”
White Conservatives believe these whites are pandering to non-whites because they feel guilty over slavery and colonialism. It can’t be because they honestly disagree with them or recognize the harm in the attitudes or behavior.
The prevalence of attitudes like this is troubling. It attempts to normalize rude, racist and offensive behavior under the guise of common sense and reason. It’s neither reasonable or common sense. It’s disrespectful, intolerant and cruel. If people who subscribe to this attitude were as real and upfront as they claim to be, they’d be more honest about their real intentions rather than try to pull one over intelligent people who know better, by claiming nonsense.