Friday, February 26, 2010

Folks who cry Racism… when there’s none there to speak of (a guest post)

Next up on Smart Guest Post Week… Damon from This May Concern You. Dame brings his introspective eloquence to BnB with a look at racism… that isn't really racism. Show him some love…

At my best, I am a thinker. Don't get me wrong, I write. I love to write. But my love of thinking supersedes my love of writing. Hell, I think that I love to think about writing more than I like to write at times (yes, this can be a problem). At moments, I think aloud, and sometimes thinking aloud means that I take to some form of social media with my thoughts because I feel compelled to share what I'm thinking.

One of the few things I think about a lot, but I'm not to quick to share my thoughts on, is racism. I'll admit it. I do catch that "Christmas in July" spirit when it comes to writing about racism from time to time. I know that it's real. I know it's institutionalized and systemic. I've experienced my fair share of it, I suppose (I've been called a reggin in reverse by a former co-worker on a job before and had to deal with the fallout from it). I know that the term post-racial carries about the same weight as a Plies insulin analogy.

But though I think about it, I'm never quick to talk or write about it, especially in trivial "if/then" type circumstances. I feel as though that crying wolf mentality makes it so that the effectiveness of the worthwhile plea/outrage is marginalized. That, to me, is not a negative.

It's why I have a big problem with some of the discussion surrounding the Epic Beard Man fight. As I'm sure most of you know, a young black guy stepped to Saint Nick's brother Frank Whitebeard on a Norcal city bus. The black guy got handled. It was, well, epic. It reminded me back to Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura. That fool got what he deserved for laying his hands on another person, especially an elder, over a verbal dispute of any sort save his mama.

But the one thing that didn't really cross my mind was racism. Yes, I saw race. There was a black guy. There was a white guy. Race was present. But I saw age, ignorance, violence and then race, a distant fourth. To me, it was an inconsequential bystander, well, just passing by. The novelty was the age gap and the whooping that commenced.

It was a surprise of sorts (similar to the shock that the crowd got when those girls from Zeta Tau Alpha, a white sorority, won their way into the mostly black crowd's hearts during the Sprite Stepoff. They were surprised that they held their own. If you've stepped for real, you know it wasn't that great. It was OK at best. But it has garnered attention because of the novelty -- in this case, race).

But notice how I've said very little in the last two graphs about racism. Race? A little. Racism? Not so much. Yet, somehow there's been plenty of talk about the racism that can be gleaned from the YouTube sensation (I had a healthy discussion with someone I respect and admire about it on Twitter). There's the idea that if they (the fighters) were two blacks or if roles were reversed (young white guy, old black guy) it wouldn't get the same spin. There's also the idea that it's getting its run because of racial heroics, whites being proud that the black guy got molly-whopped by a white man. But why the need to twist this story beyond recognition? It's about an idiot who miscalculated the ability of a man more than twice his age and got self-defensed and then some. Fight over.

I don't care to give a voice to the people out there who see this as some sort of racial heroism, especially when they don't come from behind the veil of Internet courage. Are there people out there like that? Hell yes. They exist. But, to me, it's unnecessary over-analysis because they have no sustainable voice. Pulling them into the light for two minutes is counter-productive.

It's like beating a busted pinata's spilled candy until you can't tell the difference between a Starburst Chew and a Jolly Rancher. People end up looking at you like you've got mad issues and they're scared to approach you for fear of dismemberment. Worse yet, they tune out you and your shtick.

Am I saying we need to be more cautious? Not really. I'm saying don't cry racism when you feel like someone's stepped on your toe but no one is in sight. To me, that's what this seems like.

That's not good, not when there are real issues of race that people overlook because they think we're swiping race cards that will surely return the error message "Insufficient Funds." I'm good for over-analyzing trivial stuff (I did so at the beginning of this rant while I was trying to find a way to get to my point). But genuine analysis shouldn't be wasted on "if/then" racial bits that do nothing but make people of other races hit the mute button.

That is, unless they're Martin-in-Boomerang-cue-ball-pool deep:

I'll indulge in that type of chicanery all day. Anyway, I guess I'm done thinking aloud for the moment. I'll give you a turn. Oh yeah, I love black people.

Alright BougieLand, what do you think? Are people quick to cry racism for EVERY perceived slight? Have you ever been is a situation where you had to stop and wonder… wait, was that racism directed at ME!? What did you think when you heard the Sprite Step-off was won by a non-black crew? And for the last time, who's with me to sign the petition to kill the phrase "post-racial" for once and for all? Thoughts, comments, love notes... it's Friday ya'll.

23 comments:

HauteLikeMe said...

Love this. It seems like inciting a mini-race riot is what hot in the streetz right now.

datdudeincali said...

So I'm in Costco last weekend when this perky blonde chick strikes up a conversation about avocados. Fine I can talk guacamole. Mid-sentence her man/husband/buddy walks up and loudly asks - Is this guy bugging you? And yes Chele I paused and thought - is this a racism moment? I decided he was just a jerk with a chick that was WAY too hot for him so he was hella insecure. I wished her luck on the dip and rolled out.

OneChele said...

That's a great point. Sometimes people aren't racist, they're just stupid. (not that those two things can't go hand in hand)

Liselle said...

My father was a "racial conspiracy theorist" for real. If a white person cut him off in traffic, he was sure it was a race thing. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt until they go overt and even THEN I decide if I want to check them on it or not.

Joy Andrews said...

As a dancer, I'm still hearing stereotypical "I know YOU gonna bring it" nonsense like I'm genetically pre-disposed to dance better than everyone else in the room - aargh!
As for that Sprite step-off, I saw the whole film and the AKAs were way better but seriously... whatev.
Great post. Not everything black vs. whie = racism.

Dr. Peppa said...

Kinda like this girl at work asking me for my fried chicken recipe... out of 300 people in the company you come to MR for a recipe. Racist or stupid? I don't know or care. But slap-worthy for sure.

Man's World said...

Here's my "is this racist" moment - had some guys from work over one looked around and said Man this place is so clean, was your mother a maid. PAUSE. Srsly?

OneChele said...

OH jeez, what did you do/say?

Man's World said...

I said only when her live-in housekeeper needed a day off. Then I went on like nothing ever happened.

Carey Jackson said...

I just watched that fight. What was dude's general issue? That is the essence of "Punks jump up to get beat down"! But as Dame says, the reactions are disturbing becasue there are people who will see that and think all black man are ignant and spoiling for a fight with white people. Just like there will always be people who see that and cheer for the Santa-looking guy. Makes me tired.

All Honey said...

My father was the same. Saw racism in every corner. If the school bus was late picking me up he would say, "You know it's because we're black, right?" Uh - no... he sipped his coffee two seconds longer this morning.

Jason P said...

First, and more importantly - Boomerang Clip FTW.
Second, co-sign with Dame. Not every stupid thing that involves race is racism. That is all.

Hidi said...

Nice post :)

1. Yes, some are quick to "cry racism" with every perceived slight.

2. Mom and sis were at a library and the clerk (at customer service desk) deliberately chose not to be helpful and making excuses about if you do not have a library card then you cannot use anything at all, which was a lie. She did not know her supervisor heard her and she was "dealt" with. My mom had a "is this racism directed at me" moment

3. Congrats to the crew who won the Sprite Step-off.

4. Yes, I would love to sign the post-racial petition. LOL

BB Waite said...

Okay scenario - two women walk into a nice department store and wander towards evening dresses. The black woman goes to rack, picks out 4 dresses and looks around for dressing room. The other woman (not black) has two (two!) store workers assisting her in picking out dresses and escorting her to the dressing room. Brought her a bottled water, asked about her event and escort, whole nine. Fine. Now the black woman finds a dress but needs one size smaller. She finally gets the attention of a worker and asks her to bring the smaller size. She does, flinging it over the day and saying - By the way, that dress is not on sale and we don't do layaway.... Sistah girl from another department overheard and came over to apologize. She also went and found shoes, jewelry and purse to match.

Meanwhile the other woman has tried on dress after dress before leaving with no sale. When black woman leaves the dressing room she walks over to the other department and says - do you all work on commission or goal? Young sistah who helped out says yes. Black woman says, ring up this dress plus everything else. Over hustles a manager for the evening wear department - any reason you aren't ringing this up in our department? Black woman sends side-eye... your department was too busy offering bottled water to a non-buying customer. Manager says - are you calling us racist? Black woman says - I'm calling you commission-free.

OneChele said...

LOL - thanks for your support!

Grace said...

Don't get me started on the department stores. 2010 and I'm STILL invisible to "some people" when I walk in.
Send out that "No-Post-Racial" petition, I'll co-sign.

Mocha Dude Speaks said...

Great post. There's enough "real" racism out there that we don't have to manufacture it.

Melzie said...

Excellent points, Dame. These types of situations always irk me because they equate to the old "cryin' wolf" cliche, which makes it more difficult to fight and have others believe legitimate issues. There are soooo many folks who walk around with this self-limiting belief. We've all experienced questionable situations, but allowing them to set us back only gives the other person the upper hand. Oh, I love black folks too, I just want to eliminate nonsense.

Chele, send me a copy of the post-racial petition, I'm down to sign it too.

Jara said...

I LOVE this post! People who know me already know how I feel about blacks who cry the racism wolf. Luckily for me, I've X'd enough of these racism crybabies out of my life that the stories you discussed are new news to me. I have a dream that one day, all blacks will learn the difference between racISM and racIAL. We laugh (and roll out eyes) at whites who claim to be color-blind, but they're probably hoping to cut off the racism crybabies at the pass.

sunt97 said...

People scream racism becaus eit's easy. It's like the kid in a class that is always the trouble maker. It is easier to say he did it than actually look for the truth. Now racism actually might be the truth but not always.
Yeah I have had my monents when I had to think about whether something was a racial thing but it's sad that I even had to jump to the comclusion to make a decision on that. It's sad but we all have it in the back of our minds to weigh a situation like that.
When I heard who won the Step contest, I said, "seriously?' And then I wen tand saw the footage and couldn't say anything else other than the black girls were served and need to take it under advisement that they need to step up their game and bring it every time.
It is what it is.

Tiffany
http://liferequiresmorechocolate.blogspot.com/

ASmith said...

This is hairy...

It's almost impossible to call someone's intentions. Truth is, that's what gets us in a mess with these racial vs racist moments. We try to figure out someone's intentions without them telling us. Sometimes it's obvious, but when it's not...

What I'm most interested in is her need to tell you what she thought. That's what's got me leaning towards "racist..."

OneChele said...

OH jeez, what did you do/say?

OneChele said...

OH jeez, what did you do/say?

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