Dear White People,
I address this to you because you, WE, are the main defenders of shit like this. The other day, a white lady knowingly painted her kid brown as a costume. She knew it was not politically correct and had been told it was a horrible idea but she did it anyway. She was proud of it. I can’t even begin to address the school that rewarded a kid who showed up in blackface.In painting her son, this mum hurt the person her son was trying to emulate. She hurt other people of colour. There was literally no benefit to anyone to paint her child’s skin. He could have quite easily dressed as his hero without being painted.
Blackface is Bad, Okay?
We know the history of blackface. Minstrels and mockery and the idea that being a person of colour is simply a grotesquerie that we can wash off when we are done. It’s not a flattering imitation or a symbol of hero worship. I would usually agree that intent matters and in this case, I can see the intent of the child was just to be like his hero.This mother, however, knew better. She had an opportunity to teach her son that race is not a costume, that painting his skin could hurt and offend people. This mother decided that she would instead teach him that it is okay to do whatever you want without regard for how it effects other people.
All the people defending this absolutely racist thing to do keep saying “but how is it racist?” and sharing dictionary definitions.
Here’s how it’s racist. See the definition above? Note the bit about antagonism, for starters. Antagonism means active hostility or opposition.
But maybe you aren’t being antagonistic because you don’t really think your race is superior, as specified in the definition of racist? Think about this. Many, many people of colour have said that blackface hurts, offends or otherwise negatively impacts them. If you are telling them they are wrong, you are saying that you know better than they do about how they should feel. Superior, much?
In discussions about this topic, I’ve noticed a lot of people arguing that it’s fine because they don’t even see race.
This does not make you a more evolved or superior being. This makes you a bit of a knob, actually. You think you are somehow above racism if you claim you can’t see the colour of a person’s skin? Unless you are literally visually impaired in some way, you see race the same way anyone else does.
Claiming you don’t see it does not make you a good person. It makes you someone who feels superior to others (superiority, again!) and it makes you someone who actively ignores a part of the person standing before you. Their culture, their history, their identity. If you “don’t see” race, then you “don’t see” racism. You’re part of the problem.
How many white people are moaning about being politically correct over this? As if being politically correct is a bad thing? Newsflash: being politically correct means not doing stuff that harms other people. You will not suffer, white people, if you go through life without ever using another person’s race as a costume. No harm will come to you by avoiding doing hurtful and racist stuff. You won’t be disadvantaged by never doing blackface. I promise.
If you find yourself bitching and whinging about political correctness, just stop. Consider the fact that you are moaning and whining about not being able to freely hurt, insult, offend, oppress or otherwise harm a group of people.
You want the “PC Police” to allow you to keep hurting, insulting, offending, oppressing or otherwise harming others without calling you on it. You want to cling to shitty behaviour without being made to feel bad. Let that sink in.
It’s Okay to be Wrong.
I am wrong all the time on any number of things. You know what you do when you find out you’re wrong? You change your fucking position. It’s okay to do that. If needed, you even apologise. Most people will be fucking amazed if you try this out on the Internet. I highly recommend it. You say “Aw, shit, I did not realise that. I’m so sorry to anyone I may have upset or hurt. I know better now, thanks heaps for sharing that info.” Then you carry on with your life, with your new knowledge. And you share it around when needed. You seek out more knowledge by listening to the voices of those people these issues effect.We don’t get to choose how other people feel. We don’t get to decide if other people are hurt.
Our world has a lot of problems when it comes to racism. We won’t change that until we, white people, acknowledge that and try to do better. It’s not difficult. We just have to listen, read and learn. It’s not rocket science.