Everyone is out playing that card game, which is politically and socially incorrect– thus the appeal. But specifically the appeal for the person who brought the game- who is not culturally and academically informed on race and gender politics.
And I don’t know where you draw the line at racism- but I think it has to do with ignorance. And there is definitely ignorance in this person’s perception of the world and what equality and racism means. We get the “reverse racisim” spiel all the time. White, middle class and male. And he’s the oppressed one in most conversations because colleges don’t specifically seek out people like him. Completely against affirmative action, and anything that seeks to level the playing field. He thinks all those cards are stacked against him, not stacked with and helping humanity as a whole.
Regardless, it’s been mildly annoying talks all year, especially whenever he basically stepped out during our diversity training back on base. And he can’t handle anyone talking about diversity and social equality that still needs to be done. Because in his mind it all needs to go the other way– to help unburden the white male who is losing power and chance with all this inclusion.
Anyway, he walked into Jess and I’s room, and Dre is sitting on our beds as usual. And he says, as I walk out to grab my laundry-
“You guys missed it. It was hilarious. Just too much. We had like SEVEN jokes about black people!”
The room is silent, as Dre is black, and the whole room of hippies in there were all exclusively white.
Then he goes on to talk about how they also bashed a teammate, who is also African American, and how much they hate them. But it was used in a race context during the game– not just a person to person context.
He left, closed the door, and I said to Jess and Dre, can we please unpack what just happened.
And so we did.
And we decided that there is a line. But it is racist.
And it was especially insensitive to come into a room with a black man and tell him exactly what you were laughing about. What the fuck is he supposed to say? Thank you for continuing to stereotype and perpetuate misconceptions about my race and make it harder for me to navigate my life and do the things that I want?
Because the thing is, that’s where racism, sexism, homophobism and all the other isms start. Whenever we let people make light of it, whenever we as a culture decide it’s okay to keep stepping on and marginalizing a people that have been historically oppressed.
Forget reverse racism, it does not exist. You can’t counter seven black jokes with a few white jokes and call it “okay”. There is a history of oppression behind those black jokes that our culture perpetuates and accepts each time we let it slide.
And so I’m not going to let it slide anymore. You can make fun of white people all you want, but at the end of the day that is not hurting white people at all. Because we don’t have to fear for our lives whenever we are around policemen or authority figures, we don’t have to prove ourselves to people before we’ve even done anything wrong, we don’t have to feel like our chances are skewed based on the fucked up traditions of humanity.
You can make fun of white people all you want. That is not racist. You make a joke about black people and black stereotypes, and you are perpetuating hate. You are not a horrible person, because we live in culture of white supremacy and it is ingrained in our culture, just as we live in a culture of patriarchy and heteronormativity. It’s not specific people, it’s the whole of humanity. We need to recognize our responsibility to become informed of social and cultural impacts of our words, and we need to take our knowledge and use it to inform others in these kinds of situations.
We all need to change.
Make fun of those in power all you want, but don’t make fun of those who we all take power away from daily with our “harmless” stereotypes.
Because it’s the 21st century, and this racism is surviving somehow. And it’s through ignorance of some, and the silence of the rest.