I hate racism: part II
Racism isn’t an easy thing to talk about, much less write about. And it’s abundantly clear to me now that there are many people who don’t want to read about it. My piece that I wrote a few weeks ago – under the same title – prompted the criticism of a few readers, and I have to say that I didn’t see that coming.
I didn’t see the criticism coming because what I thought I was doing was merely wading into the pool. I even made a joke to the editor about how unlikely it was that anyone would be personally triggered by an attack on the concept of racism itself. Like, you and racism, y’all are tight, huh?
Anyway, I figure that if people are going to call you names and accuse you of things even when you go soft, then you might as well go hard if you wanna. Oh, and I wanna.
Racism – and racists – are an embarrassment. As a white male, I bear a significant amount of that embarrassment. And I am tired of it.
People of racial minorities are certainly capable of prejudices and biases – everyone is. I grew up going to diverse schools where the least popular thing you could be was white. We were at the bottom of the barrel of cool. Black and brown people could poke, prod and call you racial slurs and you didn’t dare reciprocate. That didn’t feel good, but at the end of the day you always knew that there was no institutional system in place in which they could do any real harm to you, and therein lies the difference.
The criticisms of white people who call out other whites for racism are as old as racism itself, and I’ve heard it all before. We all have, and unfortunately it’s fairly effective in intimidating many white people from speaking up. But I’m not going to let that be me, and if that makes you want to accuse me of virtue signaling then so be it. You’ll, of course, want to otherize me and make me out to be some silver-spoon fed, sheltered idealist that’s detached from the realities of the struggles of everyday folk – an “elitist” you’ll say. But you’d be wrong. If I were really those things you wouldn’t be half as concerned about what I say. In reality, I grew up roaming the same West Seattle streets with the same father who wanted nothing more than to waste his time in the backyard smoking Camels and drinking Rainier. The neo-West Seattleites, sitting in their brewpubs and coffee shops, may not know of the neighborhood’s racist undercurrent, but I’m aware – because I was raised in it. Yes, the animus you feel towards me comes from a sense that I’m a lot like you, only I’m saying aloud the things you don’t like to admit to yourself.
As we approach the 2018 midterms and the 2020 election, immigration will certainly be a hot issue, and it would be difficult to separate out racism. If you don’t believe me, ask the people who criticized me for criticizing racism by talking about illegal immigrants – I didn’t write about immigration. If they think of illegal immigrants when I talk of racism, then what nerve is struck in them when they hear Donald Trump speak of illegal immigration? I’m just sayin’.
I’d also like to quickly address the common meme about crime, and specifically interracial crime. In short, this is a red herring. Personally, I don’t like to spout a lot of statistics and figures in my arguments, despite their purported ability to persuade an audience. To me, the adage that ‘figures don’t lie, but liars can figure’ rings true, and unless I fully trust the speaker, I always reserve judgment. And as someone who’s studying social sciences and works in criminal justice, I will tell you that no statistics make me more suspicious than crime statistics; because there are numbers and there are the interpretations of those numbers, and it’s astonishing how often those two things diverge. I will, however, offer you the link to the DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics’ October 2017 report on race and crime: https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rhovo1215.pdf