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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Theory Revisited

About a year ago, I wrote a guest blog post for The Latte Mug, NaturallyAlise and Eyesqueen's blog. In light of some of the stupidity I've seen on the web lately (African slave Halloween costumes, Sarah Silverman in blackface), I wanted to repost it here. We need to do better. We need to be better.

"My theory on that is.... "

I say that a lot. Just ask Alise if you don't believe me. I have a theory on almost everything human nature-ish. I think I get it from my mom. She was an observer of people... dare I say, she was an EXPERT observer of people. She almost coulda been an anthropologist or a sociologist or some such thing. (She wasn't though, she was a hairdresser... which is a kissing cousin to bartender in terms of hearing people's life stories and whatnot... but I digress). I also tend to be a bit on the analytical side. I like to peel away until I get to the core of how something works... I must understand the form and the function, if you will. And I tend to worry at things until I feel I do have a grasp on them.

Anyway, add my Theory OCD to my self-diagnosed ADD, and you get an endless train of thought that jumps the track on average every 5 minutes. Which is probably why I love Twitter so much. In terms of blogging, I'm probably lucky to get through a paragraph before my entire topic runs in a diametrically opposed direction!! See what I mean?

Today, I have a theory (or two) to share on racism/bigotry. Now, before I start, let me first establish that 1.) with me, "theory" and "opinion" are pretty close to synonymous, and 2.) I'm a common garden variety white girl. The closest I have ever come to personally experiencing racism or bigotry has been on behalf of my biracial son and in his defense. I do not pretend to understand the feelings and repercussions that follow being on the receiving end. I'm just spoutin' off about what I've observed and my theories about the jackasses on the giving end. I've given the topic a lot of thought due to the fact that my son is biracial. As his mother, I must at least attempt to understand, so I can help him navigate the world around him. (At least until he turns 18 and is outta my house... but that's a blog for another day).

In the scheme of things there is a continuum of bigotry (this is my beginning premise). I think to one extent or another, every one has a smidgen of it in us. It's about knowing where people fall on that scale. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and make a sweeping blanket statement: If someone (especially a melanin-deficient someone) says they "aren't racist" they are lying to themselves and/or you.

With that said, keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle... this train makes erratic stops and changes in direction. The management is not responsible for any damage to property, limb or mental health that may result from the following trip through my brain. Thank you and enjoy the ride.

First up is Mr. Blatant. He's the guy who calls you out of your name, to your face. He's the one who revels in stirring shit up and causing outrage. However, in a sense, he's the safest. HUH?? (Give me a minute, I'm going somewhere with this). He's a KNOWN COMMODITY. No shame in his game, he's a bigot and proud of it. His whole lifespace is filled with "I'm a racist, and what??" rhetoric and behavior. The point is, you can see him coming a mile away. And forewarned is forearmed. Clearly, he's on one extreme of the spectrum.

Next, we have Mr. Blatant's first cousin, Mr. Covert. His sentiments are identical to his cousin's, but he's a little more world savvy. This also makes him a lot more dangerous... he's the one who's gonna smile in your face and stab you in the back. He knows that his opinions and beliefs will be censured. He knows that he has to "make it look good." Unfortunately, this jackass likes to run for public office and shit. He usually gives himself away somehow, though. Be it through a slip of the tongue, or because he has a membership at some "exclusive" country club, or because he's just a little too willing to make excuses for Mr. Blatant. This guy is the first one to yell "reverse racism." He has spent much of the last 20 years or so hollering about how the real oppressed group is "white middle aged men." He gets nan from me but the side-eye.

Now, down the street and over a block we will wander into the neighborhood of Mr. and Mrs. Don'tGetOutMuch. I qualify the next statement by saying this: there is no such thing as harmless racism. The harm done may be unintentional, but that doesn't excuse the behavior, and they must be taught. These are the people that due to upbringing and circumstance haven't had their cultural horizons broadened. In other words, wasn't nan but white folks where they were raised. These are the ones who stupidly put their feet in their mouths, then jam those bad boys in far as they'll go trynna talk their way out of it. In their defense, a good number of these folks will at least try to change their evil ways once they realize they have evil ways that need changing. And not to rag on BET, but it doesn't help when the only exposure to a culture is less than stellar. And the Don'tGetOutMuch family usually gets their ideas about other cultures through media exposure.

On the other side of town is the Enlightened family. They are educated. They took Cultural Diversity, African American Studies, Women's Studies AND Comparative Religions in college, by gummy!! You can't tell them not a gatdamn thing. They will argue to the death that they have not a prejudiced, racist nor bigoted bone in their bodies. But they lie. Primarily to themselves. Just let's wait and see what happens when their little Enlightened progeny (who might actually be a little more enlightened than Mom n Pop) bring home a boy or girl friend who happens to be from a different culture. I'll tell you what will happen.... sphincter tone. The Enlightened's will suddenly turn into the tight-asses... at least until they have time to adjust. (Guess what house AmyMay grew up in....)

Next is my personal pet peeve.... the Wannabes. This is pretty self explanatory. Usually younger white people trying to jack culture to fill the void.... because, really, white folks,,, not a lot going on with ours. (Except for our penchant for doing dangerous and life threatening crap for no good reason... who swims with sharks?? I mean really...)
The thing with this group is that they convince themselves that they are sooooo damn "down" (word to Tanya Morgan) that they can do and say certain things with impunity. I'm sorry, but I don't care how long you've been best friends with Michelle Obama, if you are white, it is NOT cool for you to drop the N-Bomb. I don't care if your Black best friend introduces you as his/her n____, it is NOT ok for you to do the same when introducing him to your people. (And here's where my train of thought temporarily derails...white folks, ummmm, NO DREDLOCS, ever!! It ain't a good look for us...c'mon, now... y'all know I'm right).

Bringing us to the far end of the continuum.... the Reconciled To It clan. These are the people who honestly face the fact that racism, prejudice and bigotry are born of the fear of the unknown. They understand that despite their very best attempts and most sincere intentions, they will never be able to completely eradicate every last particle of racism from their beings. That does not mean that they won't attempt to continue to become better people. In fact, that's what marks them as different. They recognize the room for growth. They welcome encounters which broaden their horizons. And they feel like shit every time they catch the random racist bullshit that their human nature sometimes trips over.

I've tortured Alise with this theory before. And I'm pretty sure I didn't cover every "type" in this post, but dang, it's already long as hell! So I better quit before I get further behind. I hope reading this tome hasn't been too painful for anyone. I'm sure I'm bound to get a lot of disagreement on it, but hey, like I said... it's just a theory!

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Anonymous TheCubicleChick said...

Your theory seems pretty spot on! I think this should be published! Points very well written backed up by examples we all have come into contact with.

October 31, 2010 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger amymay said...

Thank you for the kind words! I'm glad you found something worth reading!

November 12, 2010 at 11:18 PM  

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