A friend in the US shared this.
Damn. That’s harsh. I hate racism. I hate how deplorable it is. I hate that so many people I know and grew up with are racists. I hate most of all that racists don’t know they are racists. They think they’re good people. They share posts and articles that are inherently and implicitly anti-black, and they don’t see how anti-black they are. Their posts are demeaning to millions of people worldwide, and they unwittingly share sentiments that frequently make a vast number of people out to be less than human. If it were just words shared, it would be bad enough, but the effects on the lives of so many people are widespread – people whose fight for equality is often ridiculed as it is portrayed as an “attack” on white people, by people too blind to see their own privilege. It sickens me.
I don’t even want to write about it. (Really, I commented to a reader earlier that I should avoid this subject entirely.) It isn’t generally a subject I focus on, at least as far as my usual subject matter on this blog is concerned, and writing about it risks alienating some of the white people struggling with addiction that I normally try to reach. But write about it, I must. If you can read the article I linked in the first line and not feel empathy, then you’re not the kind of person I would want to associate with.
Here’s something only tangentially related to the issue, that happened to me… I have this friend in the UK, an expatriate of South Africa. That friend shares links (on Facebook) to right-wing, racist, white supremacy web pages all the time. It drives me nuts. The stuff he shares is misinformation, but not only that, the agenda of all the sites that he shares from is sickeningly and blatantly obviously racist. One day I had enough, so I wrote a (Facebook) post on the subject, tagging his name and pointing out how horrible his years of shares had been. The result of all this?… I was accused of bullying him online, by a family member. That family member spoke to the guy’s sister, and then made a big deal of it, much like he made a big deal of my atheism posts. As a result, I lost a lot of friends and was made to look bad, by my family member.
It’s not the first time he did that, yet somehow he made it appear that I was at fault. I’m wrong for pointing out that somebody shared racist bullshit… I’m wrong because I tagged his name. (OK, it was unnecessary to tag his name.) But it’s OK for him to post hateful bullshit about millions of people? Here’s the thing: Unlike some people, what I say about you, whether it is in public or private, never changes. I didn’t call my friend an idiot or make statements about his looks… I merely pointed out his racism. And racism is something you can change. As a result of that and my atheism posts, I lost friends and got blocked by that family member (thank the gods for small mercies)… I experienced online bullying and manipulation by that family member more than once. So thanks to sharing my views against racism (and theism), I experienced harassment, bullying and prejudice first-hand. (The point of this anecdote? My family member totally missed the racism that I was writing about. It doesn’t exist as far as he’s concerned. He only saw that I wrote something negative about my friend publicly. The racism part of it doesn’t exist to him because racism and white privilege are invisible to racists themselves.)
Truth be told though, the unfair treatment of myself was nothing compared to those who are treated poorly by certain people for their entire lives, just because they happened to be born with the “wrong” colour skin.
The intention of this post, which will probably be lost on racists because they are too focused on their denial, or in the case of family members, claiming that I took this out of context, is simply to expose what racism actually is. It is the belief that black people are inferior, and then by extension the denial of equality to those people, and the prejudice against those people. It isn’t based on anything logical. There is no reason to assume that black people are inferior. It’s about as logical as believing that people with small noses are less than human, or maybe people with big feet. (Nasty Hobbitses!) It’s rooted in fear of those who are different, a childish and ignorant reason to hold anything against anyone. It’s something that we should all grow out of.
In this country, racism is more than just that though… If, like another friend of mine, you can share a meme that states we should all just get along (and pretend that suffering and poverty as a result of years of oppression just doesn’t exist?), or you complain about the “sense of entitlement” of the protesting students fighting for affordable fees… while you sip wine beside the swimming pool at your mansion behind your security gate with your BMW parked in the garage, you are no better than my expat friend. If you ever compliment a black man or woman for being able to do their job (that they do for a living) or that they are well-spoken, or you clutch your wallet ever tighter when you see a black man walking past you in the shopping mall, you are no better than my expat friend. Racism can be subtle and implicit. I’m not saying that white people ought to feel guilty or responsible for the actions of the past. But we can care about other people. We can do our bit to make a difference and to make things better. We can and should give a fuck about black people.
I won’t be writing about racism often. But I’m probably not done with it yet. This post hardly scratched the surface of the subject, beyond acknowledging that racism exists.