Okay, Let’s Talk About Racism and Perspective

Racism is stupid. If you hate or dislike someone based on the color of their skin, you are an idiot. And you should be slapped, hard, in public, and ridiculed, in public, for being such an ignorant moron. And if I ever see you being hatefully racist to anyone I know, I may just help your face find my closed fist. That said, we have got to start getting some perspective on racism in our culture.

Recently, Donald Sterling, owner of professional basketball team the Los Angeles Clippers, got recorded saying some racist things. That recording got released for public consumption. And the outrage over it has largely been the most ridiculous caterwauling I have seen and heard in some time. You would think the man had called for a race war the way some people were talking about it.

What he did was tell his girlfriend/archivist not to be seen associating with black people. That is basically it. Is that bad? Yeah, it is bad. It is stupid racism. No doubt about it. But it is not worthy of the media attention or the ban imposed by the NBA. This was not the second coming of the Confederacy. This was not a hateful screed about how blacks are the root of all evil. This was one man telling his girlfriend/archivist she could hang out with and sleep with black athletes, but she should not post pictures of it on the internet or bring them with her to basketball games.

Yes, very distasteful and very stupid. But who did he hurt? He owned a basketball team with plenty of dark-skinned people on it. He apparently donated money to the NAACP. Does that excuse what he said? No, of course not. But it might provide some perspective.

I heard the other day that UCLA has returned/refused a three million dollar donation to kidney research from Donald Sterling. Really? Here is a clue. Money is not racist. Take the damn money and use it for something good. You have to be lacking perspective to refuse the money.

Speaking of lacking perspective, recently a fundraiser for a cardiac health charity was canceled because of a severe lack of perspective. Apparently the Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and the Alpha Phi sorority at Dartmouth College were going to sell Mexican food and non-alcoholic margaritas and daiquiris. Unfortunately someone complained. The president of Phi Delta Alpha said, “We felt that the possibility of offending even one member of the Dartmouth community was not worth the potential benefits of having the fundraiser.”

What The F—?

Yesterday, upon hearing about the event, Daniela Hernandez ’15 sent an email to Greek Letter Organizations and Societies, GLOS director Wes Schaub, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership and the Panhellenic Council.

In the email, Hernandez raised concerns, including those about racial insensitivity.

“There are various problematic structures and ideologies regarding a Cinco de Mayo-inspired event, and I am sure that we, as a Dartmouth community, could learn from the extensive literature written about the Americanization of Cinco de Mayo and its construction as a drinking holiday in the United States, cultural appropriation and the inappropriate usage of cultural clothing, and the exploitation of groups of people and cultures for the sake of business opportunities,” Hernandez said in an email to The Dartmouth.

While offended, Hernandez said she was not taken aback when she heard about the event.

“As a Mexican-born, United-States-raised, first-generation woman of color, it was sadly unsurprising that a culturally-themed party was seen as a casual venture for such a privileged institution such as Dartmouth,” she said. “I believe that social consciousness and cultural awareness is something that we need to work on as a community.”

The Dartmouth

Cultural appropriation? Racial insensitivity? In what country does she think she lives? American culture is nothing but culture appropriated from somewhere else. Why? Because the whole country exists as a result of people coming here from somewhere else and bringing their culture with them.

The poor little dear had her feelings hurt because someone not Mexican somewhere might enjoy a burrito and a margarita on the fifth of May. Oh the horror.

One wonders if Ms. Hernandez also refuses to attend any Octoberfest events outside of Germany. Is she equally offended by marathons? I’m guessing toga parties are out. No Guinness for her on St. Patrick’s Day. She must hate Taco Bell. And no doubt, she refuses to wear costumes for and to celebrate Halloween. Her being against the Americanization of holidays and all.

Sorry cardiac health care charity. You don’t get the money from the fundraiser because protecting feelings is more important than helping support real health problems.

Perspective! Get some gorram perspective, people. And to Dartmouth and her fraternities and sororities I say this: grow a spine already. You talk like a bunch of spineless wussies. Offending one person outweighs helping a cardiac health charity? Really? Gee, helping people get health care for heart problems versus offending someone. Um, go with helping people next time. Invite the offended party to participate. Maybe make it a Cinco de Mayo education day and fundraiser. Spineless wussies, the whole lot of you.

No, I am not done yet. Now let’s talk about Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives Bennie Thompson.

Representative Thompson has gone on the record as saying that Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S Supreme Court is an Uncle Tom who does not care about black people. Why would he say this? Because Justice Thomas does not support Representative Thompson’s political agenda. This is not a little thing.

For those of you who do not know, “Uncle Tom” is a reference to the title character of the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The character of Uncle Tom was a slave on a plantation. Originally Uncle Tom was presented as a person willing to sacrifice himself for not giving up the whereabouts of escaped slaves. In more recent times, however, the label “Uncle Tom” has come to mean someone, generally someone with dark skin, who is willingly subservient those who are or are perceived to be authority figures, generally authority figures with light skin.

The idea is that an Uncle Tom is someone turns on his own kind, his own race, to help the evil oppressors. And this is what Representative Thompson means when he calls Justice Thomas an Uncle Tom.

In other words, according to Representative Thompson, because Justice Thomas does not agree with Thompson’s politics, Justice Thomas is a traitor to black people. Keep in mind here that Representative Thompson supports just about any and all government run welfare programs. And clearly Representative Thompson believes there cannot be a good faith disagreement on how to best help people. If one has dark skin then one must support the liberal agenda or be a traitor to the dark skinned people.

Think about that for a minute. I’ll wait here.

I will tell you what I think it means, but in doing so, I will say things that are going to offend some readers. Too bad.

Representative Thompson is sort of correct to call Justice Thomas an Uncle Tom, but not for the reasons Thompson thinks. Justice Thomas is, in a way, protecting those who wish to leave the liberal/progressive ideological plantation. Justice Thomas is a man in the tradition of Frederick Douglass. Like Douglass, Thomas believes that protecting liberty for individuals is the way to help people, even people with dark skin. Apparently Representative Thompson disagrees. Apparently Thompson believes people should be dependent on the government and their political class betters to tell them what they should believe and what they should do.

Perhaps, of Representative Thompson and Justice Thomas, one of them is someone who has made himself subservient to the authority. But that someone is not Justice Thomas.

And yes, I think what Representative Thompson said is just as stupid and reprehensible as what Donald Sterling said. Perhaps more so. Where are the calls to shun Thompson? Where? And yes, I think what Daniela Hernandez said is just as foolish and intellectually shallow as what Donald Sterling said. Yet the official action was to bend over backwards so she would not be offended.

Yes, racism is bad. It is stupid. And sometimes it is even evil. But can we please start acting like adults about this? Get some perspective? Someone called what Donald Sterling said “divisive.” Seems to me what Daniela Hernadez and Represenative Bennie Thompson said are just as divisive, if not more so. What are they doing if not trying to divide and put up walls between people? Donald Sterling deserves ridicule. So does Daniela Hernandez. So does Representative Bennie Thompson.

Perspective. Put it in context. And do not let the “but I’m offended that you don’t think like me” people bully you. Because let us be clear about this. The evils done in the name of racism were done by bullies. Not “give me your lunch money” bullies. The evils done in the name of racism were done by the worst kind of bullies. Authoritarian, “your behavior must be controlled” bullies.

And let us be clear about something else. Donald Sterling’s words are minor compared to the kind of bullying that Daniela Hernandez and Representative Bennie Thompson apparently want to see carried out.

I will end there, before I start ranting about bullies and why I dislike them too.

Okay, folks, I only need three more people to make recommendations for lines over at the other end of this link. There will be more posts soon. In what order, I cannot say. I am kinda winging it right now. A “What I Want” may be up next, or maybe it won’t.

Be good, all. And don’t be a bully. (I’m looking at you Dominants.)

15 Responses to “Okay, Let’s Talk About Racism and Perspective”

  1. Sir, In my experience, “But can we please start acting like adults about this?” might be part of the problem. Many of the adults I’ve known don’t know how to see past preconceived judgements. Maybe we should start acting like children. In my experience, adults could learn from the example of children and I’m talking about children who still look at the world in awe and haven’t learned yet to lump people into groups, or have preconceived judgements about anyone. They see beauty and joy in everything, Sir.

    • You may be right. I suppose I should say we need to act like mature adults rather than childish adults. That is not a criticism of your comment. There is a difference between childlike and childish.

  2. Amylee Says:

    I like your way of seeing things. And I agree but let me tell you: the ““give me your lunch money” bullies” can destroy people and personalities so bad. Which I only want to add.

    • I agree, the “give me your lunch money” bullies are indeed bad. But there is a difference between the short-sighted bully who pushes a few people around as his (or her) means of dealing with inferiority, and the bully who insists his (or her) intentions are the best and therefore he (or she) should be allowed to determine what is best for everyone else.

      • Amylee Says:

        if you look at it that way, you’re right. As far as I expirienced thoso two “kinds” of bullies are combiened most of the time. There aren’t people who only do this or only do that. Bullying develops most of the time because someone thinks they know better than their victim and only their intentions are the best.

        • That is not my experience, but I am not you. I am sure there are bullies of the first sort who become those of the second sort. Either way, bullies are bad, and people should stand up to them.

          • Amylee Says:

            hm… but yeah, you’re right, bullies are like living hell, sry not sry for saying this

          • Well educated as I am (or is that just full of myself as I am…) I am not sure what “sry not sry” means.

          • Amylee Says:

            you are, sorry
            sry not sry practically mean that you should be sorry but your not

          • I have no idea what you would have to be sorry about. Your comment was perfectly valid. That your experience differs from mine means I have something to learn from you. I am glad you commented.

          • Amylee Says:

            i don’t really know…i just feel like i have to be and i don’t like cursing so that’s the reason i should be sorry but i’m not because it’s the truth in this case, if this makes any sense?

          • Ah. Yes, I think I see now. It is okay. No apology needed. You are still a good girl.

  3. Sir, It is refreshing to read some sensible, non emotive or over the top addressing of these issues. As you know I am not from the US but there is still racism in my country and the same kind of stupidity that fuels and buoys the existence of racism. I feel much the same as you describe in your first paragraph. Although it is more likely that the perpetrator receives a tongue lashing from me rather than my fist.

    I experience racism in many forms through out my day and am committed to point out to anyone that makes a racist statement in my hearing the offense and stupidity they are expressing. A common reply is that they are ‘just joking’ I remind them that it is not a topic for joking and that it is likely that the joke still demonstrates an underlying belief or if not perpetuates racism to those around them. They are usually quiet after that and very rarely make racist comments or jokes in my presence again.

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