Today's lesson, Racism. If you see something written here that you’ve said or done, use it as an opportunity. Take it as a wake up call and make the decision to grow, change and be conscious of your own privilege. Remember, I am not a speaker for the entirety of a people.
The active aggression narrative conveys intent. It implies that things are more dangerous, more violent, more malicious or simply more scary based on the addition of race. For example, “A Black guy cut in front of me” taps into an ingrained visual of the “Big angry Black man.” It implies a reaction. You’ll see this in many a retelling of stories but you’ll especially see it when there was some sort of reaction from the story teller. The addition of race, implies that things were scarier than they would be if it were anyone else. Your reaction to this “Black guy” cutting in front of you in line, no matter your reaction, was just and perfectly acceptable because look what you were faced with. You yelled at him? Wow! You are so brave. You hit him? My goodness, you survived something traumatizing Or perhaps what we’re seeing more likely to happen these days…You shot him? Well, he clearly had it coming. Sounds like he was a thug.
The active aggression narrative is associated with an action because that conveys intent. It places a visual of big, angry, mad…but you survived.
Over the next week, pay attention to when the use of race is used to describe someone. Don’t discuss it. Just pay attention. When is race brought into a story or conversation?
I saw this as an explanation for racist “Jokes.” This white person said that making racist “Jokes” about Black people was a coping mechanism because racism was such a horrible thing. This person even went so far as to start to explain the idea of “Coping.” I want to put this out there so we’re all clear on this…
A coping mechanism is for those that need to cope.
A Black person joking about racism is a coping mechanism. A white person telling anti-black racist jokes, is a racist.
I’m not going to say any more on this because I am going to choose to believe that everyone reading this is capable of critical thought. Seriously people, seriously. How is adding to the problem “coping” with the problem?
Racists will walk to the ends of the earth to take something from someone they think has something that they don’t. Notice, they want to take part in the coping but not so much the pain that inspires the coping mechanism in the first place.
There are a number of things that are a part of the racist system that consistently get a pass as “Not racist” because they don’t come down to, “I hate you because of your race.”
Here are five examples:
1- It’s okay because I didn’t know. This one is slightly easier to spot but often considered, no big deal. This is the common situation of pleading ignorance. “What I just said was racist but I’m going to tell you that I didn’t know it was racist and since you have no way of truly knowing if what I’m saying is true, you have to (as far as I’m concerned) let me off the hook.” This shows extreme entitlement. My ignorance trumps your pain. This comes from a person who, while claiming they “didn’t know” will also claim that “not knowing” is a perfectly justifiable reason not to apologize or even stop saying it. “Because I didn’t use it that way, it really isn’t racist. Therefore, I can keep saying it because I didn’t mean it in the racist way.”
2- It’s okay because I know better. Although all of these examples are infuriating and painful, this may be the one that causes the most rage out of the most people. This comes from someone outside of any given racial group talking, with expertise, about another racial group. “Oh you think AAVE is part of Black culture? No, it’s not,” says the white guy. This is usually followed with some explanation, largely backed with racist scholastic teachings. You’ll find that this most often happens when someone is new to college or is a recent college graduate. They took a class once, so they know. Again, this is extreme entitlement. The very idea that you not only know more than the speaker but the entire race of people, a people that you are not a part of, is such an extreme form of ignorance and self imposed superiority that it’s almost difficult to understand why this is so common. Almost.
3- It’s okay because I make the rules. This one usually comes in after a comment has been made or a conversation has been had. It only applies to the minority and not following these rules (Ya know, the ones you didn’t know about) makes you far worse than any racist. You’ll find this often with tone policing. “You should have said it nicely” or “That was impolite.” The dignity is for the oppressor, never the oppressed and they will tell you this at every turn. You will also find actual rules here, but they too will only be applied to the minority, never the racist. You see this often with the rule of “Onus.” You made a claim, now the onus is on you to prove it. There are two issue here. The “Onus” that many of these people talk about is that of providing proof to one’s equal. When in a scientific debate, it is not any ignorant fool that you would “Prove” your theorem to. Imagine being a scientist and having each and every random person off the street walk in and say, “I don’t agree, prove it to me.” That doesn’t happen to scientists because it is both a waste of their time and a waste of the method of providing evidence. In order to have evidence provided, you would first have to understand the history, context and substance of each moving part. Racists, don’t know the background but place the “Onus” on you to “Explain” the foreground. They do this because they can not fathom a single topic that they are not more versed in than you. Including, but not limited to, your life. So the idea that they don’t understand the historical context connected to your point of view, is not only lost on them, they see it as improbable. The second issue here is that, it’s often a false statement. Take for example the argument over what the correct definition of racism is. While I might make the initial claim that racism is systematic, the person disagreeing with me will not just say, “No it’s not.” They will also make a claim. Their claim being that racism is hate of another based on skin color. In this situation, there are two separate claims being made but only one will have the “Burden of proof” placed on their shoulders. Once again, extreme entitlement.
4- It’s okay because my show is in the center. This disturbing phenomena is about keeping the racist, or more to the point, the racist’s world view, the center of the conversation. We see this heavily in action each and every time a violent tragedy strikes here in America. Take the Boston Marathon bombers for example. There was a great amount of hurt (Both physical and emotional) due to racism and xenophobia but the calls of “It’s not about race” rang loudly. You see, the racists would talk about how the people who got hurt in the explosions were of many races. Therefore, race doesn’t matter. Yet, they conveniently overlooked the fact that innocent people were being harassed, beaten and had their families accosted simply because of the way they looked. Let’s not forget, based on absolutely nothing, the bombers were first described as “Dark skinned male, possibly Black.” Why? Well, we can’t discuss the “Why” because it’s not about race. We also couldn’t talk about the way the media first described the bombers, then changed their tunes quite a bit when they were found to be white. All the while, still trying their best to distance themselves by calling them anything but white. At this point, race…was not a factor. Remember just moments ago when the bombers were “Dark skinned?” It was a factor then. Why not now? Oh and before you make the poor decision to say that it mattered because they were looking for the bombers. This justification doesn’t quite work when there was a “Possibility” that the bombers were white, not a CERTAINTY but with nothing but the possibility, the entire news cycle changed. Literally. Within minutes. This is one of the more disturbing items because it does two things. It stop (or tires to stop) any and all conversation about the racial inequalities of the treatment of criminals. While at the same time, often accusing those that are talking about the racial inequalities, of “Not caring” about the victims. Just in case you didn’t know before, I’ll let you in on a little secret. It is possible and probable to hate the inequalities in treatment AND care about the victims of a senseless crime. The entitlement here is that race ONLY matters, if the criminal isn’t white. The bigger problem is that while racists yell, “It’s not about race” and use the victims of the bombings as proof, they overlook the victims of racial profiling due to the first, blatantly false and racially charged, description given. There were more victims of this crime than those that stood at the Marathon. Yet, to the racists, it’s about everything but race. No matter how big a factor race plays. Entitlement.
5- It’s okay because I like it. This may be entitlement at it’s finest. It also serves to dehumanize the very people you claim to “Like.”
In every scenario, the “Adoration” and “Like” ends when anyone from the group you are forcing your entitlement onto says that they have a problem with what you’re doing. The moment someone from the particular group says that it’s not okay for you to treat them this way, your reaction is not only to justify what you’re doing but to also let them know that they don’t get a say in their own treatment. “Why are you mad? I touched your hair because I thought it was pretty.” In a racist and entitled mind, you liking something means you can simply take it. The same non-Black women who put their hands in the heads of Black women without permission and then get offended when they are told that their advances are not welcomed, are the very same women who would take their shirts off and march if a man were to do to them what they did to another woman. It comes down to, I am superior to you so you should be HAPPY that I like you. Egotistical entitlement.
The part of this conversation that some find confusing and others purposefully dismiss, is the very beginning. Before we get started, I want to say, racism is not a game to win. If your goal is to “get” to say that you’ve experienced racism too, there is a good chance that you are a racist who believes racism is simply a card to play. Something with no real consequences. Which in turn, proves that you’ve never been on the receiving end.
In the beginning, there was a system. This is very difficult to understand unless we break this down. While, the dictionary speaks of racism as a personal hate for another based on race, you have to remember that the “hate” came from somewhere. Racism is not something that sneaks up on you, it is something that is ingrained within. Our environmental queues help us, from day one, to know where we stand within any given population. The idea that racists woke up one day and said, “I just decided that I don’t like Latin@s” is absurd. None the less, let’s pretend that this is exactly what happened to Person A.
Person A, woke up this morning and for no apparent reason, decided that he hated Latin@s. Now, the question is, when you ask Person A why he doesn’t like or hates Latin@s, can you think of a single answer he could give you, that wouldn’t be directly ingrained within from the racist system?
Let’s take this a little further. Let’s say, the reason Person A now hates Latin@s is because a Latin@ person did something horrible to him. It doesn’t matter what the “something” is. Let’s just say it was something unconscionable. Now Person A has a reason. How would Person A sustain this hate for all Latin@s? Hate for a single person, yes. Hate for the entire group? That would take more than a single incident because our minds do not suddenly decide that all are bad, when we have seen that one was bad. Contrary to what many seem to believe, any negative interaction that we’ve had with someone from any given group, is backed up by what we’ve been taught systematically through out our lives.
Now, in a previous post, someone said that in order for the system to be a system it would have had to start with an individual. If you read that quickly and don’t think about it to much, it sounds almost reasonable, yes? Here’s where this logic falls short.
Let’s say, you have lived your entire life in one single room. There are 99 other people in this room. There is no outside information that enters the room. This room, as far as you know, is the entire universe. Everyone inside this room, is everyone that exists within the universe. You are a lone person who is a racist. No one else in the room is a racist. There are four racial groups within this room and you hate two of them based solely on the color of their skin. Why are you racist? Really think about this. There is no propaganda and you live in the kind of room that racists seem to think we all currently live in. A room where, yes, “We are all human.” There is no news coverage. If you want to know what’s happening, you can just walk across the room and ask. Any music that is playing, is made by the person sitting three feet away from you. There is no crime as there is no reason for it. Yes, you have arguments and disagreements, even fights from time to time. Why are you a racist? Could it be that you got into a fight with someone of another race and you were so upset that you wanted to punish anyone that looked like them? Okay, let’s go with that. If that were the case, how would you go about “BEING” racist? You see the “Hate in your heart” crap is nothing. “Hate in your heart” doesn’t matter unless it is acted on. If it is there, it can be denied. Whether it is or it isn’t, “Hate in your heart” cannot be proven.
So you want to make anyone that looks like this person pay. That will lead to action on your part. You need people on your side. You need….A SYSTEM. Your solitary, lone hate of another based on the color of their skin wouldn’t matter in this room if were a mere thought and/or feeling. It couldn’t even be construed as racism because you would have to argue about the “Racism” that was in someone’s thoughts. How? How can you KNOW what someone is thinking if they do not act, speak or react? Your lone racism would die when you die if there was no action. Racism is an action. Words, body language, fists or oppression of any kind. These are actions. You having “Hate in your heart” would make you a person with hate in your heart and nothing more.
All racism is the product of a racist system. All of it. Therefore, when a person (or the dictionary) says that racism is when Person A hates Person B because of the color of their skin, it is leaving out the REASON for the hate. It is leaving out what lead to the hate. It is leaving out where the hate was manifested from and how.
While it is possible for an individual to be a racist, it is not possible for an individual to be racist without first going through the system. In short, systematic racism is the only definition because any and all other forms of racism stem from this definition. Saying there is “More than one” definition or worse, that this definition isn’t the “Real” definition is like saying ice can exist without first having water. At best, you could accurately say that there are multiple types of racism. However, saying that there is more than one definition, is false. There is only one, from which all racist types stem.
On top of all of this, the number one argument racists make to say that the “Power + Prejudice” definition isn’t the sole definition, is to say that there are places on Earth where white people aren’t in power. This really speaks to how they see themselves. The definition isn’t “WHITE power + Prejudice.” It’s “Power + Prejudice.” The very idea that THEY think that “Power = white” says everything you ever need to know.
If after reading this, you still have doubts about the definition, I have an exercise for you. Name a single racist thought a person could have that can NOT be back up by racist propaganda that already exists as part of the racist system. Oh and for you not so clever racists, I said “Thought” not action. Even though a person can’t “Prove” a thought, it’s the thought that leads to action. So no cheating. Why would you need to anyway? You are so SURE that the definition is about hate in your heart and a noose and a moose and a caboose. Can you come up with even one thought?
What I learned in school about Cleopatra:
Lived in Egypt. She was black-This one was interesting. I was in class when my teacher pulled down the map to point to Egypt. Truly…it never occurred to me that Egypt was in Africa. Why would it? Elizabeth Taylor was clearly not an African woman, right? I must have known but…I clearly never thought about it because I said, out loud “Egypt is in Africa?” There was not a laugh, other people joined in. They’d never thought about it either. The sad part, when I asked the teacher if Cleopatra was black, he said yes…but by the look on his face, he hadn’t given it much thought either. It was a “Yeeeees?” answer. Almost like he was asking a question. We could see the realization washing over him. It was amazing…sad but amazing. (I’m sure I was taught more than this but I really don’t remember much)
What I learned on my own:
Okay so…we’re all adults, right? I was going to pick one of the many amazing things about Cleopatra to highlight but I have to pick three. They are things you may or may not have heard of. I want to highlight them to say, she was a woman before her time in more ways that one. My personal favorite was the fact that she was a sex-positive feminist long before being a feminist was fashionable…and let’s face it, even some that call themselves feminists today aren’t the most sex positive people in the world.
These things are readily available pieces of information but I am not sure that any can truly be verified. None the less, I am going to chose three things to highlight here.
What I learned in school about Martin Luther King Jr:
He gave a speech about having a dream. He marched in Birmingham. He was peaceful. He was shot in Memphis. This quote: Something…something…something… “Not judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”
What I learned on my own:
Like my previous post, there is a lot to talk about on the topic of Martin Luther King Jr. Some good, some bad. Also like the previous post, there is something specific I would like to highlight.
It’s a part of the “I have a dream” speech.
It’s one that, in theory, we all know right? Except, I am sad to say, last year on Martin Luther King Jr Day, I listened to the entire speech. From beginning to end…for the first time. I am pretty ashamed of that. This important speech, I’d never listened to from beginning to end. How was that possible?
The interesting part was how much of it seemed relevant to today. Not just the racial issues but some of the comparisons and analogies he made in the speech. I’d like to highlight the part that actually gave me chills. The relevance is both eery and upsetting.
“In a sense, we’ve come to our nations capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of The Constitution and the Deceleration of Independence they were signing a promissary note to which every American was the full air. This note was a promise that all men, yes black men as well as white men would be guaranteed the unalienable right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissary note in so far as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation America has given the negro people a bad check. A check which has come back marked insufficient funds”
About this quote, I am just going to say this…If that don’t burn ya, then your wood is wet.
((The link provided will take you to a page showing the current relevance in this quote))
It’s officially Black History Month. Today, I am going to talk about what I learned in school. So this will be a light day…
What I learned in school about Harriet Tubman:
She was a slave. She escaped. She got a bunch of slaves to freedom. She used the Underground Railroad. In the books, she was always drawn to look like Aunt Jemima.
What I learned on my own:
There is a list of things to talk about where Harriet Tubman is concerned. I am actually going to save most of that for March 10th, Harriet Tubman Day. For now, I want to talk about one of the things I found interesting and inspirational.
Her entire life story is something I consider to be an inspiration. However, there was one piece of her story that was a complete shock to me. When you consider all that she did, all that she accomplished. When I found out that she had Narcolepsy, I was floored.
I couldn’t imagine the bravery it would take to help get over 300 (that we know of) slaves to freedom. I can’t imagine what that would have been like. To have to work around Narcolepsy on top of that, unimaginable.
Equally, I can’t express the amount of rage I felt when reading the cause of her Narcolepsy. She received a blow to the head by a two pound iron weight thrown at another slave when she was 15 years old.
I have no words.
What must it have been like to be a person who was already being hunted for who she was but to also have an ailment that could affect you at any moment of the day or night? An ailment that could literally get you and everyone you were trying to help, killed.
Harriet Tubman is an inspiration in every sense of the word. No matter your race, this is a life and a history we should all take a closer look at.
There is an awful lot of talk about the word racism. What it means, who has the correct definition. Who can or can not be a racist. Thus far, I haven’t found a better definition than this.
Still, I was curious about the word itself. I was pretty shocked by what I found.
The dictionary was not where the word was born. In fact, the word (at first) had nothing to do with our current ideas on racism. It was first found in a book called “The coming American Fascism” published in 1936. The second time, was also in a book. It was called “Racism” published in 1938 and this is what made the word popular.
The interesting part was the actual meaning of the word when it was created. It did stand for separation but not of ethnic race. Not at first anyway. It was about Religious race. It was made famous because the topic of the book was the study of sex. The word racism was being used to describe how (according to the book) Christians were more “Uptight and repressive” about sex. It was about sexual liberation. Then, the word racism was used to compare Socialists groups to other groups. Finally, it was used in ethnic races.
Even when talking about ethnic races, the word was not used as it is today. It was used as a negative to describe your enemy’s ideas. Even when your enemy’s ideas were about things other than race. It was eventually called “The useless word” because everyone was using it against anyone that didn’t agree with them.
Here’s the REALLY interesting part…”Racism” as we know it today came from the word “Racialism.” Why is this interesting? Well, it’s because the definition, the one in the dictionary today, was coined in 1907. NINETEEN HUNDRED AND SEVEN!
This is the definition racists use as proof that everyone can be racist? Really? No…REALLY? Can you think of a reason THIS particular definition at THAT particular time, might be fucking WRONG?
I’m just gonna leave this here for you to digest.
If you saw my previous post, you may have noticed a theme. Every other group get’s a “Heritage” month and black people get a “History” month.
You know, heritage as in, where you came from. Versus history as in, the past…sort of.
It’s hard not to see this and feel shafted. It’s hard not to feel like this is a little to deliberate.
((The only possible exception was the Filipino American Heritage Month. I found that listed as both heritage and history. However, from the limited information I found, it seems that the grass roots movement was listed as “History” and then once it was made official, it was named “Heritage.” Even if it was once referred to as “History” it gets an asterisk, don’t you think?))
I shouldn’t take this personally though right? I shouldn’t see it as black people purposely being left in the dark. I shouldn’t take this time to point out that the limited history we are taught has been written by white people (mostly men) and completely white washed, right?
…but then again, if not now, when?
So when you get asked “Where is White History Month” maybe you can ask, “Where is Black HERITAGE Month?”
This is for the moment you inevitably hear “What about White History Month?”
Black History Month-February
Irish Heritage Month-March
Greek-American Heritage Month-March
Arab-American Heritage Month-April (Was able to find very little info)
**Tartan (Scottish-American) Heritage Month-April**
French American Heritage Month-July
Latino (hispanic) Heritage Month-September 15-October 15
German American Heritage Month-September 15-October 15
Polish American Heritage Month-October
Italian American Heritage Month-October
Filipino American Heritage Month-October (Minimal information)
American Indian Heritage Month-November
((**I found “Tartan Heritage Month” listed as both a month and as a partial month. I have been unable to find a definite answer.**))