thoughts on racism

c.i. noted this: "Help Make Thursday, December 1st 'Blog Against Racism Day.'" which is a thing by leah at corrente. which just sent me into a panic because i couldn't remember if i'd added them to my blog roll or not. (i had.)

so the thing is to talk about race or racism today.

so here are my thoughts on the matter and you can nod along or spit nails or whatever gets you going. i'm going to focus on an issue where white people who aren't racist enable racism.

'we are we and they are they' is the biggest narrative going. it's how we end up demonizing others. and it depends upon ignorance.

and it depends on our ignoring our commonalities and and not respecting our differences.

instead a difference becomes a reason to demonize.

race is 1 of the easiest ways to play the other (gender is another) because it requires only our eyes to scan quickly and fall for whatever stereotype is being promoted in which ever generation.

we have a bully boy in the white house who loves to play the country against one another and loves to create divisions.

this is also world aids day and that's another example of demonizing. 25 years later the stigma's not as great as it once was. provided you're a child or contracted the disease through blood transfusions.

you saw it with those crappy e-mails from bono's organization always about 'the children' as though that's the only focus for empathy.

ruth in her ruth's morning edition report talks about how 1 of the things she enjoys most is learning about things and i honestly believe that a lot of people feel that way.

but sometimes we act like we don't feel that way because 'what would some 1 say?' i've been amazed at, for instance, the number of people who will say something as stupid as 'i hate that will & grace. they say things like "who's homo?"' but if some 1, usually me, says 'i like that show' the same person fronting 2 minutes ago will suddenly say, 'isn't it funny?'

we're all so worried about what some 1 might think.

that's why bully boy managed to pull off 4 years with so little criticism. we were scared to state the obvious.

so we fear other's reactions. when we find out their reaction, we're usually okay with being open.

and that goes to racism because we fear what we don't know.

and ignorance is encouraged in our culture.

c.i. taught me long ago to say fuck it.

if you're not black and you're around white people fairly often, you've probably been in a group or 1 on 1 with someone that you thought was wonderful only to hear them utter a racist saying.
years ago, it would make me uncomfortable and i'd excuse myself and avoid the person from then on. but c.i. would always say 'that is racist' and not care what their reaction was.

when i was younger, believe it or not, i was not always quick to share my opinion and i was loathe to disagree.

i would see c.i., who really doesn't care - i mean really doesn't care, tell some 1 off for being racist or being sexist or being homophobic or go down the list. it could be any 1 and it never bothered c.i.

it took me awhile to get to that point.

and my silence perpetuated racism. i could tell myself 'well i just won't be around ___ anymore' but that didn't change anything. the person might wonder why i avoided them after the shocked look but they didn't get that their remarks were offensive and wrong.

we need to let people know when they are wrong. if we don't we are perpetuating racism with our silence.

it's easy to say 'well i'm not racist' and go on about your life and i did that with race, gender, you name it.

there was a couple that is friends with my ex-in-laws. they would make the most racist jokes and i would walk away from them. then i would whine to c.i. on the phone. c.i. would always say 'they need to be called on it. it won't change what they are probably, but it will make them twice about assuming that just because every 1 present is white, they can get away with that shit.'

so when we announced our engagement, i was telling myself, i can't be silent tonight.

it was hard for me because back then i really did want every 1 to like me. but that night, when the husband came over to make another 1 of his 'jokes' i let him have it.

the couple avoided me, and our wedding, which is fine. in fact it's better because i didn't have to work to avoid them since they were avoiding me.

and after that, it was honestly easier for me to say to any 1, 'that's wrong.'

for me it was a road to finding my voice and to being able to speak up for what i believe in.

there was a friend that t and i had who we used to do stuff with, us and a group of women. she pulled that nonsense 1 day after we'd all been hanging out for some time.

when i called her on it, she told me i had no sense of humor (they always go there, racists, sexists and homophobes) and started saying stuff like 'you know me, you know i'm not racist.'

i thought i knew you. i thought you weren't racist. then you tell that 'joke.'

and of course she doesn't do it around t.

which is how you know it's not just a 'joke.' if it's just a joke, why say it only when no african-americans are present? this woman was all 'you go, girl!' and 'girlfriend' this and 'girlfriend' that when t was around. (which t always found strange.)

so that's my point for the night.

it's easy for you to tell yourself that since you're not racist, you don't need to worry about it. that turns it into a problem for 'others.' that kind of thinking, for instance, would really push it off on t.

it would be my way of saying, 't, you're african-american, so this is your problem.'

but racism is a problem for every 1 that every 1 needs to address. so if you've grimaced at a 'joke' and said nothing, i want you to think about speaking your mind and calling people out.

maybe it will open some 1's eyes. maybe it will only make them avoid you.

regardless, you'll feel better about yourself. you'll probably also be doing your friends a favor.
i don't mean the ones telling 'jokes.' i mean your own c.i., the person you whine to on the phone about this or that. you'll free up your time to talk about things that really matter instead of constantly needing pep talks. and if you have enough respect to say 'no' you'll be a stronger person.

i'm not sure if this is the sort of thing they were hoping for today but, to quote kat, it is what it is.
and what it is is this: if you're biting your tongue around 'jokes' or worse, you're perpetuating racism.