With the British royal family in the news again for racism, (see here, here and, for a bit of history, here), a national debate is going on over what constitutes ‘banter’, ‘slurs’ and ‘political correctness’.
What dismays me most about such polemics is that attention is focused on whether this person or that organisation is racist or not. The simplistic logic goes, “if they weren’t racist, then they wouldn’t say that”, or “if they say that, then they must be racist” – and off we go in a never-ending polarisation of thought.
But nothing is, to quote a phrase, only black and white. To believe it is, is to hold oneself up as lacking in all knowledge of the world and human beings, to reduce oneself to a two-year-old’s view of how the world works.
Well, the Republican National Convention is over, and I imagine you’re back in Alaska now. I can’t begin to imagine what you have been feeling over the past couple of weeks. You and your family have been vilified in the press and your boyfriend has been painted in a very unfavorable light. If you’d only had premarital sex, I doubt there would have been this type of uproar. But you became pregnant. And suddenly this became an issue of morality. Continue reading
That little gem comes from a psychologist, but you can find it all over the web. Just google it. It’s not that I disagree; I was once a child and remember it well. It’s just I don’t like what’s implicit in that statement.
You see, the reason that people often cite this truism is to explain schoolyard “teasing”. And based on this incontrovertible fact of life, this is what we tell children to do when “teased”:
All right, white people. Gather round and listen up. Because I have some things that need saying.
First and foremost, you are white. Yes, you are. I don’t want to hear about how you’re kind of a peachy-pink, or how you’re a nice tan, or how your black friend or yellow daughter has skin that is lighter than yours. “White” refers to your skin tone, but more than that it refers to your privilege.
But if you feel that you absolutely cannot force the word “white” out of your lips or off your fingertips (repeat after me: “White. White. White.”), then would you please at least spell the word “caucasian” correctly? For the record, it’s c-a-u-c-a-s-i-a-n. It is not “caucasion” or “cocasion” or (shudder) “caccashun.” Yes, there’s an asian inside caucasian. It’s C-A-U-C-A-S-I-A-N. Why don’t you just use “white”? At least it’s easy enough for you all to spell. Continue reading
A recent post by Resistance concluded: “systemic racism can be harmful in more ways than we ever dreamed possible”. A commenter recounted an anecdote that described white people’s discriminatory behaviour to poc as “almost innate”.
Racists are not born; they are made – by society. Racists exist around the world because societies around the world create the breeding ground for them to thrive.
Since we all live in society, every one of us has racist tendencies, not innate but learned.
Some of us make conscious effort to examine our thoughts, feelings and actions and to raise consciousness in others. It can be done.
Conclusions and recommendations
Let us not make the mistake of thinking that because discriminatory behaviour and the feeling of superiority are not conscious, people cannot be blamed for their racism (or any other –ism).
Question yourself, question others, question society.
Warning: I am goofing off because I got bored with what I was doing. What I was doing was making a requested gift for somebody’s son. Unfortunately, this gift is going to take me so long to make that I would rather give the kid a hundred dollars. Because I can earn the $100 faster than I could ever make this darn thing. So this is just a long way to tell you that I am not concentrating very hard at writing this post. It’s merely a procrastination vehicle.
So I was at the store today looking to buy something. And a little old white lady near me asks the clerk, “Is that made in CHINA?” She’s pointing to a huge display of $5 stuffed animals. It’s on the tip of my tongue to say, “Yeah, lady, I can tell you without even looking that those toys are all made in China. As are probably close to 100 percent of the toys and consumer goods here.”
The clerk fumbles for the tag and turns the item over. “Yes, it’s made in China,” he responds. Continue reading
A friend of mine just had a frustrating week. Asked to propose a design for an international non-profit organisation’s New Year cards, he offered a stylised snowflake, cleverly incorporating one of the organisations symbols. It was refused on the grounds that snow at New Year is only significant to people in Europe and North America.
Apart from the fact that China and Japan don’t seem to figure on the client’s radar, this is a good example of the sort of “inverted ethnocentrism” rife in so-called international business today.
Reason 10. Choosing to confer visibility. Many white adoptive parents assert that their children of color are are “just regular kids.” They forget about their color. They just see their sons and daughters.
No such exemptions are parceled out to adults of color or children of color with parents of color. They do not have the luxury of being seen as “just regular people.” In fact, sometimes they just aren’t seen at all. Continue reading
Dan McGrath writes about a racist incident in a letter to the editor:
Since the incident, I have spoken with an official at WHS and an officer with the Winchester police department. I have also had the opportunity to meet with the athletic coach of the two athletes. All of the individuals that I spoke with were initially supportive and offered their various promises of involvement. Sadly, after a number of broken promises and a missed meeting by the athletic coach, I have been unable to garner any serious support. To clarify, everyone has been semi-cordial and acknowledged the seriousness of this hateful act upon first meeting. Despite their good intentions, I’ve been told that this incident seemingly doesn’t fall under anyone’s direct jurisdiction.
I don’t think anybody did acknowledge the seriousness of the act. Because acknowledging the seriousness would mean taking action. Contrast this with the Finley incident.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Words without action are meaningless.
According to this New York Times article, more than a dozen universities have installed footbaths in recognition of Muslim religious requirements. The Kansas City International Airport has also added footbaths in many of its restrooms for this reason.
I think this is a great step towards “embracing diversity” and “valuing multiculturalism.” Continue reading