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Friday, July 24, 2015

The racist disclaimer, decoded

I've seen a lot of good things about equality through the discussions of shooting of unarmed black men, the Charleston massacre and the confederate flag fuss*. And I've also seen some bad. So here's another rant.

I don't like talking about race. I'm a much better listener anyway. I don't have the experience to talk fluently about discrimination, but even I can see some of it and it's disgusting. I mean sure, people assume things about me because I'm quiet, we all have these types of struggles, but I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about real discrimination based on something arbitrary and seen immediately (like skin color, duh).

One meme making the rounds of social media says white people are not responsible for things their ancestors did.

 Hmm. Ok. . . That may be true on the surface. You don't own slaves, good on you. But sometimes you need to look a little deeper and break the code. (Side rant, excuse this- Like when you are told to be a Christian in and out of the voting booth. Are they telling you to be a Christian or are they telling you to vote Republican- or I'm sorry- not Republican, how dare I assume!, but rather the candidate, whatever party (see how open minded I am!), who opposes abortion and gay marriage and is for making the Bible our civil law) This kind of thinking not only exonerates them from crimes of their ancestors (they assume), but kind of (they hope) gives them a blanket amnesty from any racist thought or action on their part today. They are trying to disengage and wash their hands of this matter, racism, as though it doesn't exist or doesn't matter. They don't experience it, so why bother. They won't be pulled over for being black or searched in a normal traffic stop or be considered suspicious for walking home with too many people, so we are post-racial.

Black people are dealing with the consequences of slavery (even though they are not slaves currently) still and yet white people bear NO responsibility because they don't currently own slaves?? There is something seriously wrong with that thinking. Racism is learned and passed down. Racism is alive and well unfortunately. I certainly WANT to be fair and impartial, but am I consistent in that? I have no idea. Probably not. But I'm trying. That's an important difference. Your parents and grandparents may have had racist ideas, but you can break out of the bubble and decide you want to contribute to making the world better. Doing nothing encourages the status quo, the broken system.

You can't wash your hands of this and say I'm not responsible for your misfortune. We need to be asking instead how we all can succeed. We need to be striving for equality and justice FOR ALL. And to do that we might need to ask what it's like to be driving while black or what it's like to explain to your kids the injustice that exists that is part of life, that they will have to work doubly hard to succeed or be doubly "non-threatening" (using this as I have heard it used, hoping I can get the point across and not be offensive) to be heard, the things they have to be aware of so as not to be shot- not by criminals- but by the police.

[7/26/15 edit- In recent events, at the Netroots Nation conference, it was said black lives matter, all lives matter, which is kind of the same - though more of an attempt at solidarity - as the 'I don't own slaves meme.' Of course all lives matter, but the issue we are having very obvious problems understanding in actions if not ideology is that black lives in particular matter as much as everyone else's and that is the reason for the hashtag and movement. If that was an attempt at solidarity, we need to try something else.]

Also included in this self righteous racism are the political games, like the anti affirmative action argument- we just want real equality, why do black people get all the breaks? What do you even say to that kind of ignorance??

And then there are black comics like Bill Cosby (I guess he's lost some credibility, but there are probably dozens who fit the mold) who tell boys to pull up their pants and tell white people they should be able to say the "n word" too and any number of more offensive actions. See? He's black! It's ok to be racist- or- it's not racist because I'm quoting a black guy!! Wrong.

I know you don't own slaves, but you still have to think for yourself and take responsibility for your own garbage TODAY.

Silence is complicity. I don't know who said that.

*fuss= 7/26/15 edit= looking back, this seems not a serious enough word. I only meant that it is a no brainer to me that if something is as offensive as a flag under which slavery was fought for, we should take it down immediately, why was it flying anyway, especially since it doesn't represent the US or the unity we seek even aside from slavery and especially considering it.

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