Monday, March 17, 2008

Deconstruct the Stereotype or Perspective is not fact

Racism, it comes in all kinds of forms and from all kinds of people. But my friend fails to understand this.

One time, while walking back to the train station from having some drinks at a bar called Cheap Shots, we overheard an Asian man asking for directions to get to a place from a group of people nearby. When they told the man that they didn't know, my friend then asked him where he wanted to go, and then told him directions to get there. The Asian man departed, and right after he did by a few feet, my friend expressed the assumption that the Asian man didn't trust his directions because they came from a black person and he sought out more directions from a white person.

When disagreeing with him about making that baseless assumption about the Asian man, he responds by saying "In case you didn't realize, racism still exists in the world." And then asks me "What do I think about whites that prevent blacks from getting jobs because they just hire other whites." It was a bit hard for me to immediately respond to the generic nature of this question. I first asked him "What about it?", then asked "What do you plan on doing about it? (since this was such a solid problem for him)." He said that he would be successful in business, make lots of money, and be known in a company by his name and work in particular and not be considered "another lucky black guy". That's nice.......but he didn't answer my question. I still don't understand how this would help anyone but him.

He pigeon-holes other races when they're brought up. He'll say he's joking, but after reading a Myspace post he wrote about the time he accidentally "hit a Mexican" with his car (seriously an accident, he's not a monster or anything) and listening to him describe how Puerto Ricans live when they come into this country, I'm not really sure. If he speaks to a white person sitting next to us somewhere or at a party/gathering, he'll come back saying "I bet they're probably surprised that I'm black and smart.", after saying nothing of any striking intelligence. Furthermore, this would go against his thinking: if all (he keeps saying that he doesn't think this about all whites, but anyone talking to him will clearly see that he does) whites thought lowly of blacks and kept them from getting jobs based on their skin color, their intelligence would matter nil.

The world to him is just whites hating blacks, and even though he says he acknowledges this too (when it really doesn't seem that he does), he does not take into account that there are all kinds of people that are racist against blacks, or that not all whites are racist. Afghanis and others from the Middle East are going through hardships due to the ignorance of many, and Native Americans have come quite close to the brink of extinction from European imperialism. Furthermore, I've tried telling him that this kind of thinking is not progressive. In times before and now, there have been plenty of people who have gone through quite crucial and direct racist suffering, and still don't think the way he does. We should be working towards unity, not trying to put out a fire with a fire.

It appears that, while harboring these ideas about how racist white people are, he has gathered up resentment and became racist himself. Of course, he doesn't realize this because he doesn't hear himself objectively. I recognize this in him because when I was younger, I passionately harbored racist hatred against blacks (which I am), because I was disgusted with the way I seen the community treat itself, but this is for another post.

The central argument for myself is whether to argue with him at all: I shouldn't criticize him for his beliefs because that would make me a little like him. But he is clearly close-minded. Bear in mind that he is also not some raging, foaming-at-the-mouth monster like this post may have painted him to be: he's been my best friend for years and is open-minded and understanding in many other aspects of life. Just not this one. But if I've gotten over my selfish perspective, I'm sure in time he will, too.


  1. I say this about a few people I know. My mom included.

    She had taken the bus with me on saturday as I made my way back to work. She had asked if there were places to get her nails filled near my job. Yeah, sure, Plenty. So we took the bus. Once I got off the bus she asked me "Are they chinese? I dont want any white people doing my nails. I only let the chinese do it. They do it the best"


    I told her to stop being ridiculous. How in the world can you say something so racist? She said "Noooooo, Im not racist. They are really the best."

    I cant understand this backwards compliment. And she doesnt comprehend how I cant understand that she is applauding them. lol its laughable!

  2. The Clandestine SamuraiMarch 18, 2008 at 12:04 AM

    Laughable to some, not to the people who suffer from these kind of views.

  3. Don't Feed The PixiesMarch 18, 2008 at 6:02 AM

    Someone once said that if you put two people together they become a couple, put three together they're a community, put four together and they make one an outsider (NB - i think this is a semi-quote from Stephen King, but still true). Racism is about more than colour and, rather sadly, exists between people from neighbouring villages and towns, gays and straights, black and white, serbian and croat, Catholic and protestant.

    Even for a non-believer it's sad that 2000 years after Jesus went about telling people they should shape up and get along with one another we still hate so easily. And yet each and everyone of us looks at a stranger and makes instant assumptions about their background and personality based on the way they look, walk and speak.

    The important thing is to recognise this fact and try to be a better person - empty the box marked "them" and fill up the one marked "us"

  4. The Clandestine SamuraiMarch 18, 2008 at 8:13 AM

    That is absolutely true. I think the sad thing is, we're still in the process of getting people to recognize that fact.


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