What I really wanna say

Racialicious linked to this, so I had to wander over for myself to read it. Sarah writes about getting an invitation to a “stereotype party” in which participants can “throw away the urge to be politically correct, culturally competent, and sensitive to diversity.” She wrote a carefully-worded e-mail asking people to consider what this might mean. Undoubtedly many of you can imagine the responses.

In part, Sarah wrote as follows:

Hey, all—I understand that the whole point of this party is to not be politically correct, and in no way am I trying to say what people should or shouldn’t do, but I wanted to point out a trend that has been happening on college campuses that are similar to this party’s theme….. (I’m also not accusing anyone here of any malicious intent.)

I’m sorry to be a wet blanket, but honestly the first thing I thought of when I saw the theme for this party was the “Stereotype Party” that was thrown by students at Tarleton State University (in Texas outside Fort Worth) this year on MLK, Jr. Day [lots and lots of examples of other similar types of parties] … I apologize if I’m coming off as an over-sensitive, uptight bee-yotch with no sense of fun, but I felt like I had to say something here. I know that we at the Evans School generally strive to be “politically correct, culturally competent, and sensitive to diversity” in our day-to-day lives……is being so such a burden?

A favorite blogger responded with the following comment:

What really sucks is that ones has to slather on the apologies and disclaimers pre-emptively in order to have a chance at getting through to some people.

I was just bemoaning the fact that I had to write a couple of letters addressing racism that started with flattery (“My extended family and friends have had very pleasant initial experiences at [Institution Name] and had hoped that we would continue to do so … These positive experiences … blah, blah, blah”). And I do think this is often because we have to give people a little bit of grace and wiggle room.

But it does totally suck. So here is the letter I would prefer to write (please note that this is not in any way a criticism of Sarah):

Hey idiots! Don’t you understand that “politically correct” is just an empty derogatory slam on people’s attempts to be sensitive to the feelings of others? And don’t you get how racism is systemic and widespread? Do you really want to join the ranks of the following idiots who have already gone down this path? And are you incapable of understanding that your intent means nothing? Impact is what counts. Focusing on intent takes the responsibility off the perpetrators of racism. That’s you, jerkfaces.

Yeah, I know that this will ruin your fun. I bet it never even crossed your mind that anybody would protest your asinine party theme. Maybe you assumed everybody shares your white point of view. What’s the deal with being insensitive, thoughtless cretins whose idea of fun is making fun of others? And why are you making me out to be the bad guy? Look at yourselves in the mirror. And think about if you only want to give lip service to being culturally competent or sensitive to diversity. Or maybe it’s just too much strain on your tiny brains.

Ahh, that felt good. Hope it was good for you too.

I really do think that white people assume everybody coming to the party will be white. I had an interesting experience bumping into somebody in colorface at a party once. Worse yet, I came with the boss. Very satisfying.


7 thoughts on “What I really wanna say

  1. Wow, Can I use that response? I am constantly in battles with people over “being too PC” or not. Intent doens’t matter, impact does.

    That is great.

  2. Lol, I love your response! (Carmen sent me a link to your blog.) After sending my initial email, I expected some resistance but was surprised at how nasty a few reactions were. The party organizer is indeed, white, but there were many POC on the list, and in fact I knew that some of them were already thinking up their own costumes (“model minority,” etc.). That’s why I think I was singled out even more…… in their minds, “Oh, these other POC are cool with it, so what’s Sarah’s problem??”

    A lot of the people on the list took it personally when I sent out the email…. one student said:
    “Sarah Kim,

    I can appreciate your concern for the content of a stereotype party, but Im not sure you are giving enough credit to the student at the Evan’s School. I wouldnt, for a second, think that anyone will be arriving to an event like this in a tasteless outfit that would offend anybody (except maybe our current president and his staff). I can see the reason for concern because of parties like this in the past, but we arent a group of 18 year old frat boys (an excellent idea for a stereotype party outfit!).

    We are all adult and I think that this gathering would be done tastefully and be VERY entertaining. I think it was a great idea and it might even help us identify how ridiculous we can be when we stereotype.

    Good idea on the party and I hope people still show!”

    Sorry to leave such a long blog comment! Anyway, I loved your post. Thanks for the solidarity!

  3. Btw, I thought the student’s response to me that I put in my comment above was ridiculous…… the party invitation basically told us all to NOT be tasteful. Gah!

  4. When I hear the phrase “don’t be PC,” I actually replace it with “I don’t give a crap about your sensibilities and only care about my own privileges.” It’s selfishness in the purest sense of the word.

  5. Pingback: Exploding Aardvark » NOT ENOUGH SWEARING, THOUGH

  6. Pingback: Thank you (and some updates) « Outside In . . . And Back Again

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s