Oh yes I am.

Dear White People:

If we happen to be having a Very Serious Discussion about racism, please refrain from telling me the following:

Well, I guess I’m just an optimist.

This ranks right up there with telling me that you guess you don’t see race, that you’re reasonable and rational, that of course you can take a joke, ad nauseum.

But let me address this particular crap pile of bullshit putdown. What makes you think I’m not a fucking optimist? I mean, I am talking to you. And I seem to be continually surprised by cluelessness and stupidity and ignorance and privilege.

Also, I get up in the morning. And I do it all over again every day. If that’s not optimism, I don’t know what is.

In addition, in an only slightly related tangent, don’t excuse old people for their racism. If my grandmother and my various other old folks still have to suffer it, then old people should still get a beat down for it. (Oh, and adoptive parents? Letting your old people expose your kids to more racism is child abuse.)

That is all. Please make a note of it.

9 thoughts on “Oh yes I am.

  1. I loved my grandmother dearly, but even as a kid I knew it was silly and sad how she talked about “colored” people as if they had some kind of regrettable contagious disease. She wasn’t a terrible person, her memory is precious to me, I am honored to bear her first name as my middle name, and yeah, she was racist in her quiet way. When I mention this to people, they inevitably point out that she was a product of her time, as if this had somehow escaped my notice. I’m a product of my time too, but that doesn’t mean I can’t choose to challenge my upbringing or conventional wisdom or the unspoken rules of society. People in every generation have dared to transcend those limitations. I’m sorry my grandmother wasn’t one of them.

  2. Writing this blog, what else could you possibly be but an optimist!?!
    These ‘if you talk about racism you create it’ people are so full of shit!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your optimism and the seriously difficult work that you do every single day.

  3. My dad’s family is from Georgia and I often hear “Well, they’re from the South.” as another way to excuse someone’s racism. Also doesn’t fly.

  4. “What makes you think I’m not a fucking optimist? I mean, I am talking to you.”

    Ha! Awesome.

  5. Noted! I can’t imagine any circumstances under which those words would pass my lips, but I appreciate the reminder not to say them under those particular ones. Also, I appreciate your blogging. Signed, A. White Person.

  6. On racist grandparents: even older people can change. I saw it with my own grandparents. For a long time, they talked of their “black neighbors.” Then it became their “nice black neighbors.” Then it became dinners with the neighbors. And over time, even in their 70s and 70s, they started to talk differently about culture, ethnicity, and race. They became advocates for social justice and much more open-minded. People can change if their hearts and eyes are open, but sometimes it takes others to help open eyes and hearts. And while is certainly isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to do it, it is a beautiful thing when someone takes the time to knock down barriers and resist racism.

  7. I love that last comment. I was raised by a father who expressed racist attitudes. The fact that I sometimes find echoes of his opinions resonating within me is quite natural and not my fault. It’s up to me whether I embrace and nourish these ideas or consciously question and reject them. To suggest that old folks are somehow incapable of this kind of self-reflection and struggle isn’t a matter of tolerance and understanding, but ageism.

  8. It’s not just adoptive parents! I am the mother of a multi-racial child and have had to walk away from my parents as they are just totally unwilling to rethink their racism. I have felt some guilt in that, but this post has made me understand that I actually did the right thing. Thank you!

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