Sunday, May 08, 2005

Race is a 4 Letter Word

I haven’t been posting recently due to some computer problems, which still aren’t resolved, so I made an effort to find a computer that worked. While I had tons of things I wanted to blog about a situation arose that I felt needed some comment.

A little while back my roomy Mike went to the beach and had some humorous, yet annoying, situations occur; consequently he blogged on the subject and then from out of no where was hit with all sorts of angry comments. He checked out where they were all linking from and found this other blogger that had read his page and taken it as a slap toward gays, Hispanics, and the French. If you haven’t, I suggest reading the comments on that page to get an idea for some of the hateful responses.

I was raised in an upper middle class suburb of Atlanta. I didn’t live in an all white neighborhood and I didn’t go to an all white school. I grew up, went to school and was in boy scouts with a multi-racial, multi-ethnic community. To me the only diffrence between the people in my town were whether or not they were intelligent or rude. The only time I ever experienced any kind of racism was when I moved away from there. I have seen racism from many different people, whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, etc. I have been called a racist from people who didn’t know me. I have called other people racists on the merit of how they had treated friends of mine or ideals that they made clear to me. The subject troubles me.

There are two words that have become an embodiment of what they are supposed to oppose. One is the word “racist” which is defined as “prejudice or animosity against people who belong to other races.” The other is “reverse-racism” or racism that may be aimed at whites by other minorities. When did the word racism become a word to solely be associated with white people? Isn’t this ugly word just as apt when applied to anyone no matter their color or ethnicity? The very existence of a term like “reverse-racism” is a troubling sign that our community is segregating more and more.

If anyone is interested I would urge you to read some anthropological works in regards to the term “race” as it is. If you do you’ll find that this word is not scientifically accurate. In fact most archaeologists and anthropologists today will never use the term race to describe anyone.

I hate that people use language that singles out generalities about an entire group of people, but let’s leave our politically-correct selves for a moment and be real. People are all prejudice. If you don’t believe me then look the word up and honestly tell me you’re not. Everyone is, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with someone of a different origin than yours and it doesn’t mean that you are hateful. What it means is that you judge people from what you have experienced. I can’t fault anyone for that. I don’t hold it against the people who have played the race card on me. I just have to assume that they have only had bad experiences with people of my background, too bad for them they judged me poorly before they got to know me.

While I’m on the subject, it is also a shame that in our country today it is almost impossible for a white person to redeem themselves after being labeled a bigot or a racist. Take the example of my friend Mike. After reading all the uninformed mudslinging that others had done, one of the people who had him linked on her page took him off. If you try and defend yourself by saying “No, I’m not racist” people seem to be more disgusted with you. Finally, as a white person you can’t even tell someone about other people you’re friends with without sounding like a desperate back peddler. It is almost like someone being branded a leper and then being shunned by everyone around him. He may not be a leper but the acusation, once made, has more weight than the truth.

You know what people, save your scorn and disapproval for someone who really deserves it. Try and be less sensitive to what might offend and wait for someone who really is a bigot. And for the love, stop being so damned politically correct. It’s stupid. There is no one who isn’t guilty of telling a racial joke, and no one who isn’t prejudice in some small way. Get off you’re your high horses. The thing, I guess, I hate the most is that none of these people feel that they should be held accountable for their harsh words. All of them feel that he "blog-spammed" them. Hey, if you don't like this issue stinking up your pages don't sling it so gleefully at others, it could come back at you.

**Due to public outcry I am removing the racial jokes. I felt they made the point and while being funny to me were not funny to all. That’s fine; I don’t feel they coupled well with my overall argument anyway. I noticed that the only argument that people had though was over the one joke that had to due with minorities, while no one was upset by the white joke. Hmmm, what does that tell me? Maybe that’s why comedians like Dave Chappelle, the South Park Guys and Richard Prior have a booming career.


Mad Mike said...

It just makes me irrate that people will push labels like biggot and racist on people who use labels like gays and mexicans. I won't berate myself to go into what ethnic friends I may have or how I'm not racist. I do however find it amazing that "the open minded" can make snap judgements on a few sentences they have read. My friends know me and that's all I need, so don't get into to much of an uproar here.

Your New Sleeping Aid said...

Good luck with this one, dude. Though I am with you all the way, you have stepped into a nasty, nasty area. i think the truth is, people just dont have enough going on in thier lives not to get upset at every damn little thing they can.

LJ said...

I get annoyed with intolerant people just like anyone else, but more of a problem for me are judgemental people. Some may think there is little difference, but let me explain.
People who will make snap judgements about others, and then feel the need to express it to the world are judgemental. For example, Christians that need to let you know you are going to hell because you do ____, or because you don't believe ____. Who are they to judge my soul? Likewise, people who call my friend a bigot or racist when they don't even know him drives me crazy. I understand that for some reason they think it is homophobic to call a gay man "gay", or racist to call a hispanic man "Mexican" (eventhough these are not in any way derogatory terms). But it is so much worse to call someone a bigot or racist, to judge who they are as a person, without even knowing them

Maine said...

Yo dude,

I'm one of Hey Freak's readers, and I can see where the argument is coming from. There are two different standards of racism here.

To Freak (and many others worldwide) racism starts at "identifying a person by their race". That, in itself, is considered racist. The argument is that the person is an individual and should not be seen/labeled by their race/sexual orientation/whatever.

To your buddy (and many others worldwide), racist means saying, "I hate ______." Identifying a man by his skin shade is perfectly okay to him. Its normal, accepted practice. (Or at least that's what I'm gathering from everyone's comments.) So, the standards are worlds apart. And really, the standards are mostly dictated by upbringing and environment.

Maine said...

Not to say that one standard is "better" than the other, since both exist for a reason, but the caveat is that, in a worldwide forum, you're going to come across folks that measure by a different standard than you - so its best to be prepared.

The fact is that while you may find the sprinkler joke to be funny or as an interesting wordplay, I've known many people who would actually take physical action against you for repeating it.

And I'm sure that there are certain issues that you might not find too easy to swallow either. If your parent died of cancer, wouldn't you consider taking action against someone who joked about how it was their own fault? Sure, that's really crossing the line, but, to that person, it might have been okay or just to lighten up the room.

So, all I'm really saying is that what's okay to one person might not be okay to another. If you want to be a conscious world citizen, it helps to be mindful of that.

Some folks don't really care for the idea that, before they're a man, before they're tall, before they're chubby, somebody sees them as a Mexican. That's all.

mikey said...

Hey, I've got some jokes for you...

Q: What's the difference between a white guy and a bucket of shit?

A: The bucket.

Q: How do you circumsize a Pensacolan guy?

A: Kick his sister in the mouth.

Q: What do Pensacolan girls and cats have in common?

A: They both lick their paws.

Here's some food for thought: Just because it's "a joke" doesn't mean that it's not insulting. Just because it's "a joke" doesn't mean that people's feelings won't get hurt. And sometimes, "a joke" is just hateful, stereotyping speech delivered with a smile.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't tell jokes... just that, well, when you tell jokes like that, don't be surprised if someone doesn't think it's funny.

Brillig said...

I'm sorry gang, but I feel like I'm discussing this with a bunch of hipacrits. Thank you Mikey for proving my argument so simply. Yes, everyone has told a racist or bigoted joke; even those who proport to be the most enlightend amoung us. Thanks again.

I would also like to add that while I dislike being called a honky, cracker, or (excuse the spelling if it's incorrect) gwilo, I don't minde being reffered to as white or American. Indeed, If I was to travel internationaly I would expect that to accurately describe me people would use those terms. Hell, I have even reffered to some of my friends as white so as to properly convey who I was talking about to some of my other buds.

You guys may not like it and I'm sure you will keep looking down your noses at us horrible people, but I think Maine has a point it is primarily about upbringing. I can use these terms as adjectives without being a bigot or racist because I truely am not. I understand your point guys but as Mikey asked in the post that started all this, yeah he is being over-sensative.

Anonymous said...

Half a brain and you'd be dangerous.

mikey said...

Geezus dude. That was not an attack on you. Dude seriously, what the fuck? It was just food for thought.

All I'm saying is that hey, your friend said some shit that I thought sounded racist. THAT WAS IT. It wasn't an attack on your friend, it wasn't a call to arms, IT WAS JUST A FUCKING OBSERVATION. I said "Obviously, I could be wrong" IN THAT POST. Why don't you read?

And now again, you're missing my point. Your friend said some stuff that my or may not be racist. He should NOT be surprised if he offends some people. THAT'S ALL I'M SAYING. And you drama queens think I was attacking you?

And look at you. You say that when you travel, you don't like to be called names? And yet you're saying it's OK for your friend to talk like that? Who's the hypocrite?

Proving your point? What was your point? That everyone's told a racist/bigoted joke? I never denied that. So what's your point now? That I'm not more enlightened than you? I never said that either. Show me where I purported to be more enlightened than you.

Was it where I said "Obviously, I could be wrong?" Was it where I said "Now, don't go berating this guy... he's entitled to his opinions, just like anyone else." Or maybe it was where I said "Leave him alone. I read his explanations; he deserves the benefit of the doubt." Was it in any of those cases?

Do me a favor. READ WHAT I SAID. Don't scan it, don't gloss over it, READ IT.

Maine said...

If you don't care to be called a "honky" or whatever, then why on earth would you put those jokes in that post?

If you understand that "honky" and "cracker" have negative connotations and can hurt (even when said jokingly in the George Jefferson context), then can you see why a joke that uses the words you've used above is equally out of line?

Again... whether or not "everybody has told a racist joke" is or isn't true (it isn't - in some places, people have zero tolerance for them), the fact is that you're posting them in a worldwide forum, and you're going to piss a lot of people off with them.

Whether or not you're actually a racist is irrelevant. Whether or not every friend you have is of another race is completely irrelevant. If you present this kind of thing using those kinds of words to the entire world, there's going to be negative backlash.

Brillig said...

Maybe you should read my blog more carefuly. I said that everyone has told a racist joke, and in responce you did. Ergo, you proved my point. I also read your blog and you left something out. Sure you said "Obviously, I could be wrong?" and I expressed MY oppinion that you were. Also you wrote, "Leave him alone. I read his explanations; he deserves the benefit of the doubt." However at the top of that very post you wrote:
"If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's probably a duck."

"If you quack like a duck, people might draw the conclusion that you're a duck."

"If you don't want people to think you're a duck, don't quack like a duck."

Ok, what the fuck does that mean you contradictory ass. Sure you might say not to bother him but you'll go right on and instigate. I'm through discussing the merits of whether or not my friend is or is not a rasist. He isn't. Done.

I don't know you and I don't think we will ever meet. Frankly, this is a page where friends come and discuss friendly things. YOU started this whole farce. YOU brought all of this out over a perception of slight verbal infraction. YOU have been the intollerant one both on your page and others. And YOU have been nothing more than a third rate Joe McCarthy on this rediculous witch hunt.

Oh, and don't tell me something is "food for thought" when it is obviously laced with this derisive attitude you love to exude. You are the bigot and I won't even try and be civil anymore. Here or anywhere else. Just take the hint and go back to your corner with your opinionated friends.

P.S. I won't edit your comments like I know you did to my friend. Yeah dude, I know you edited her to make her sound bad and don't even try and say you didn't. I saw it all. What kind of cowardly shit is that.

ajt said...

Um... Just another observation, but isn't jumping to the conclusion that someone - who you know hardly anything about - is judgmental... well... extremely judgmental?

You guys can argue until you are blue in the face. No one likes to be discriminated against. No one likes being judged. No one likes being told their opinions or thoughts are wrong.

You may not agree, but in the spirit of trying to improve relations the world over via blogging, can't you show each other some respect?

Your New Sleeping Aid said...

AJT and Maine have points. I think they both did a fair job of trying to make statements without taking blatant sides. Mark, you are an ass. But, I know you don't care, and thats why we are buds.
Mikey, this is definately a can of worms you didn't mean to open. Sucks. Bottom line... This argument isn't going to put food on anyones table. It isn't going to improve anyones bank account. It won't clean the air... etc.
Being sensitive about racial issues is extremely problematic. Being insensitive about racial issues is extremely problematic. But here is a fact, or strong possibility, or something:
It is not going to get better if handled like this. Insensitivity is not corrected. You can't correct insult with insult. Mikey, thats what you did. You insulted Mad Mike when you commented and republished his blog on your site. You provided others with an opportunity to judge him. He retaliated. I think this is how wars start. Anyone see Archduke Ferdinand? I think he and his wife are headed by this afternoon.

Brillig said...

Archduke Ferdinand! I love WWI humor. Yeah, this whole thing got crazy. I just wanna go back to posting fun stuff. I feel that it is time for a truce.

Your New Sleeping Aid said...

u dummy! u gave it away! I wonder how many people actually got that reference.

Bad Kitty said...

If you don't like it, don't read it. No one is putting a gun to your head. Hit the back button on your browser and go on your merry way.