Friday, January 15, 2010

Everything is About Race.

Yesterday I was called a Racist on Twitter. Reason being that I had the nerve to point out something on Facebook that that my guest blogger stated. If you read what yesterday's blog was about you would know that Rameer was pointing out the simple fact that not many white people he knew posted anything about Haiti on their Facbook statues, yet just about all the people of color he knew, did. It was a commentary on sociology of race relations and what we hold to be important.

Like I normally do, I will tweet about my blog to let people know what today's topic is. I asked a simple question: "How many white people do you know on Facebook that posted something about Haiti?" Let's be real about this. I think it was a legitimate question in which I got answers to. One follower, who is a woman I have spoken to via chat and on the phone, was offended by my question. "Why do you have to make it racist?"

What I find interesting is that I just asked a question. Consider that I have taken classes in social justice, sociology, racism and education, and I am a trained facilitator in racist dialogue...I think I would know if I was being racist. But I digress. The point is, that Racism exists and pointing that out, does not make me racist nor does it mean I am perpetuating it.

"When people like you 'point it out' but are really just being racist yourself. I think its so ignorant." I am one to believe that ignorance is bliss. If people like me do not point such things out then we are truly being ignorant about the world around us. Do I need to explain why Haiti is suffering so badly? Do I need to explain why that country is so poor? Race has everything to do with it. I was just saying this week that we need to know our history. Haiti was once a colony of France and after it was bled dry by the French, they left the Haitians to fend for themselves.

Let me explain what Racism is, since I am so ignorant about the world. Racism is a part of the system of oppression that is perpetuated by those who are privileged. Racism is power plus privilege. According to her, this definition is antiquated. I am not so sure how old this meaning is especially when sociologists still hang on to this definition, so let's go with Webster's Dictionary: 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 am I being Racist? Do not get me wrong, I can be prejudice. We all can be. We all have our thoughts about other people. Honestly, that is natural. "ANYONE can be racist! If you don't like someone based on their race...your racist." As I pointed out to her, I never said I do not like white people. But, if you really know me (which she does not), then you will know that I point shit out like this all the time. Why? Because I have heard people say that they think racism does not exist anymore...yeah ok.

"...and you are making assumptions. Maybe people didn't post about it but chose to deal with it their own way or donated privately." I will say this, I do make assumptions. But if someone points something out and many other people agree and see the same thing, what does that mean? I get the fact people want to deal with things in their own way. But, why donate privately? Do white people think they will be judged by their peers that donating to a "3rd world island" is not the in thing to do? Or would they rather hold up a blind fold and watch "Jersey Shore"?

Which being me to my point and why I had Rameer write that post yesterday. It is clear that we all live on the same planet, but we live in different worlds. It seems to me that most, if not all people of color, care deeply about what happen in Haiti. Most likely because they either have family there, or know people who do. More importantly, these people look like us! White people in general can be blinded to the plights of many of our people. The very system of privilege makes it hard for them to realize what we go through. So Haiti is a different world.

Everything is about race...Everything. If you do not think so then think about this. If you are a white person: Do get followed in a store because you are are white? Do you ever think you will ever be stopped by a cop because you are driving while white? Do you have issues buying a white doll from Toy R Us? Do you struggle to find a sitcom on TV that positively portrays white people?

Never EVER tell me that everything isn't about race. When I think about Racists, I think about Pat Roberston. I am so not like him. I live my race everyday. Do you?

4 comments: said...

I find myself in an interesting place with regards to race and racism. As a Spanish speaker I've experienced a degree of racism. But as a white skinned person, I have not experienced the same degree of racism that my friends of color describe like your examples of walking into a store, or getting pulled over.

That said, there is no question that racism still exists in this country - and moreso in other nations, including many Latin American countries. Anyone who disputes this is ignorant, uninformed, or fooling themselves.

I'm not sure what we can do to eliminate it - particularly the subconscious racism as discussed in Rameer's post. But I do know that throwing label of racist around at those that look to initiate dialog on the topic is not a solution.

Diversity is great, shared experiences, fine. Integrated educational systems and workplaces - all for it - and they will go a long way towards eliminating overt, conscious racism. But I don't know what can help eliminate the subconscious ingrained racism that exists in all of us. Will the passage of time "evolve" its way out of our subconscious? I don't know... If it does, it won't be a generation or two. It will centuries more before that is completely eliminated; if the past is any indication.

Jem said...

Very powerful read, Ant.

Social MZ said...

The key to minimizing racism in it's negative form (because eliminating it is not realistic at this point in our society, case in point this particular woman) is to be aware & spread awareness about it.

I agree that posting a controversial tweet such as "How many white people ..." is offensive to those who represent the counter argument - however please keep in mind ... ITS NOT ABOUT YOU. It's to draw a thought into those who have not thought about, not to offend those who did .. so do me a favor and get over it. If you become defensive, perhaps your guilt has gotten the better of you.

And p.s. - If you choose to handle the situation privately and discreetly that's fine - however you are doing an injustice to those who are not "handling" it. So maybe a better phrase is "How many people do you know are spreading the message about the tragedy in Haiti, who should be?" The message is - why isn't EVERYONE concerned? Is it because it's Haiti? It it because this country has no "effect" on you? Imagine that...

- @SocialMZ

Unknown said...

To my son RIGHT ON


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