Hey White people.
Yep – I’m talking to you; and I really hope that instead clicking ‘x’ because you’re too scared to talk about race-anything you’ll stick it out with me for a bit. Because this is important.
What I want to talk to you about is Loren Berthelsen’s reponse on Leatherati.
Because it’s embarrassing.
Specifically the bits where he talks about how white people experience racism, states that racism is colour blind, and it is super embarrassing that he defends people’s right to be offensive. Seriously, I’m embarrassed to share a skin colour with this guy because this kinda stuff gives white people a bad name.*
First – no one here is going to argue white people can’t experience discrimination or prejudice. But racism; not so much, because society is already set up in our favour. [It may also be set up in lots of ways not in your favour related to: class, education, ability, relationship status, orientation, mental health, age, sex, gender identity, gender expression – the list goes on. See both point two and further reading]
Second – y’all if a word starts with race? Colour matters. Racism is not colourblind; and pretending that you don’t see race is being willfully ignorant about the world you live in. Sticking your head in the sand does not solve any problems: being aware does. Start paying attention to race – hell start paying attention to all different types of people. Looking at the ways in which people have privilege, look at the ways they don’t. Oppression is not black or white – there isn’t a bar to clear; we exist in states of privilege and oppression all the time.
Third – it is embarrassing to see that much work go into defending someone’s right to be a jerk. Because that’s what being racist, sexist, homophobic, transmisogynistic, ablest – all of that shit. It makes you a jerk. And technically you have the right to be a jerk. But that makes you a crappy human being, and that should embarrass you too. Not only is it okay that we call for better from our fellow perverts, but it is about damn time. I am sorry that I haven’t done this sooner.
Not sure what difference you can make? There are actually lots of ways to make a difference. Some big – like researching and reading up on a lot of stuff so that you can try to be a better ally to people; or learning how to have difficult conversations around privilege so that when you do mess up you can get straight to the doing it better part and not make someone deal with your sad feelings over doing something busted to them.
Or you can do something really, really easy.
Give other people’s feelings as much respect as you give your own.
Don’t argue with them that their feelings aren’t real, or they’re misunderstanding the joke, or they need to relax.
Please stop telling them their feelings are worth less than yours.
Because that’s what you’re saying. Through your actions and through your words you are saying that your desire to engage in something that makes another person feel bad is worth more than their desire to not feel like shit.
It really is that simple; and if you cannot see why one shouldn’t trump the other – I cannot respect you. Furthermore, I cannot respect the fact that you think it’s okay to make people feel unsafe, unwelcome and second class just so you can score a cheap laugh, be lazy with your language, or not have to face tough feelings.
Community needs better than that. Humanity needs better than that.
Do better than that.
If the above resonated with you? I recommend the first two links. If it didn’t, I recommend the next three. And I recommend Jay Smooth pretty much all the time for all people because he’s intelligent, witty, and always relevant.
* Actually, heaps of stuff gives white people a bad name, and a lot of it is 150% deserved; but if all us white people don’t want to be painted with the same brush? If we want to claim NALT status (Not All Like That) then we need to speak up, call our fellow white people out, hold them accountable, and show people that we aren’t all like that. Burden of proof lies with us, y’all. Get on it.