White People Are Ruining Racism! by Kyle Phoenix



I'll start out by saying that intermittently I don't watch television for long stretches of time, like a year or two.  Then I'll be stuck somewhere or on a long summer vacation or visiting family and stuck in a guest room somewhere....and I'll screen the televised landscape.  I abstain from TV basically because it warps reality and that warping changes the morality and perspectives of the watchers.  Some television is conscious to try and not have that warping effect but it's a very narrow bandwidth, particularly as there are now hundreds of channels available.  To that point, so much availability means that people with the resources and access to be on television will be and that invariably means within a Western context---more White people.

The secret people of color don't tell White people is that we have two thoughts about you.  Like when we're standing and you're talking and as a White person you say something---something so far from left field that we have to decide the value/power distribution in our relationship to figure out whether to correct you or just save this for when we talk to another person of color to tell them---"Do you know what one of them said?"  People of color practice a form of racial duplicity in that we don't always say or explain or tolerate some racialized things internally but blank face, nod politely, "ignore" or deflect some of what is said.  Of course it's not working and really in no way progresses racial progress and understanding but we've had to do it for hundreds of years to insure survival so we'll be doing it for a few more until the numbers balance out a bit better and we can afford to be publicly oppositional whether we're a janitor or a CEO.

However White people (throw up your arms in exasperation---because this is generally how we emotionally feel about them---kind of like seeing your dumb cousin coming up the road with another one of his insane projects made from rats and peanut butter) act out racism in new and inventive ways.  Doing so messes up the social groundwork of getting past this mental illness or neurosis based on skin color.  This new White fueled racism is when a White person does something racist or says something or tweets something or mentions something that happened 15 years ago when they used the word nigger.........and before people of color can get to the site of the racial outbreak to work it out---OTHER White people jump in, identify it and administer repercussions.

Let's start with Paula Deen.  I like the Food Network because I like to cook and eat.  I've seen her show a few times and found her to be funny, a great cook; and after seeing a few interviews with her about having overcome her fear of leaving the house after years of being a shut in by accepting the death of everyone she knew including herself---I thought she had some depth; she was a TV show I could watch whenever the odd time struck.  Then she got deposed in a civil suit and they asked her some questions and it all came out---using the word nigger, Gone With the Wind dinner parties with Black men dressed up as the help and how it looked so nice to her, and the fact that she admitted that there had been a time in her life when she'd been less racially tolerant and enlightened. 

Somewhere in all of this there were TV interviews, accusations, her Food Network show got cancelled and basically there was this push to run her granny ass out of town on a rail.  When I peeked around the edges of it, I realized that lots of natural truths were being ignored and I think her public breakdowns had to do not only with entitlement and privilege assailed but also that she honestly was being honest...and thought that honesty was what was being asked of her.  That honesty is part of her social psyche so she thought she was being "good".  And if I step out on a racial branch I can see how Gone With the Wind could not only be a favorite film of hers, a modality and lifestyle she'd childhood/fantasy want and with monied friends similar to her, access and recreate.  Actually when I heard the bits and pieces and then the clarifications and the further explosion of ire, I thought to myself---honestly---because I like the fun words "What the fuck else do you expect a non-college educated, non-diversity educated, non-married to a Black man, White Southern woman her age to fantasize about as a childhood fairy tale?  Have you seen the fantasy episodes of Designing Women?"

White people fantasies that are time period specific are going to include the dilemma of Black people in America---there's no where for us to time travel to before 1970 that doesn't include overt racism, the word nigger, servitude and an existence legislated largely by the whims of White people.  Which is why there are no time travel movies with Black folk....and the ones that we are in (Star Trek, etc.) we're real careful about prior to 1970.  It's easy to cover up Spock's ears---Uhura was never taken on those away teams----say to 1940's Germany---thought logically her communication skills and social fluency would've helped.

That Imus guy said something about some nappy headed hoes playing basketball and he got busted in the chops and now most recently some Duck Dynasty hillbilly/ZZ Top looking daddy said Black people were happy pre-Civil War.  Taken out of context or with context control, I suppose there were some bright spots of happiness for Black people prior to the Civil War---not at everything and every condition but we made love, basked in sunlight, took a swim, read a book (illegally, sure), had a nice meal, enjoyed farming---there were other human experiences for us beyond just being lashed as slaves and singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot until we uniformly stopped at the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

But my ire at the ire over him and all the foolish fallout---is we forget that until recently we could identify boneheads and assholes and dummies and stupid comments without having to light torches and suspend folk.  Ok, so far we've got an old White woman from the South saying some old White stuff from the South and a hillbilly with a slightly skewed perception of racial history and the overall enjoyment of various people throughout time.  I know---the end of the world as we know it.

Then some chick tweeted about going to Africa and not worrying about getting AIDS then added her lack of worry was over the fact that she wasn't Black, ergo less chance of infection.  She worked in Public Relations and of course got fired so fast that one has to wonder if she was essentially pissed at her job and tweeted this to quit.....and get infamous/famous at the same time.

Yet statistically on the surface her statements are insensitive but in another context, true.  The CDC hasn't launched that worldwide initiative to stop bottle blonde White women from spreading HIV in America nor Africa.  They're the smallest demographic of HIV infected, right after intravenous drug users...another irony.

I keep seeing these continuous racial guffaws, context driven statements, faux pas, hot messes, foot in mouth-ness and I thought okay, this is a great chance for us to say---"ok, s/he said this and in talking to them what they meant or how they meant it was and the way to clarify, understand and rectify that thought and it's proliferation..."

But what's started to happen instead is before we can get a Racial Black (or in a pinch Latino/Asian/Native American) Specialist in there to raise our hands, shake our heads and try to both contextualize this and minister to the folk as an individual and the masses as a whole---White folk jump in and crucify the sonsofbitches.

I mean rabidly.

They cancel shows, pull sponsorship, fire people from decade long employment, run them out of town, burn them in effigy and throw THEIR hands up in abject frustration and disgust.  Think of it like you're Store Security and you catch someone stealing something and you slap the shit out of them.  Then they leave.  And you go on about your day.  While it might frighten the other customers, the Thief hasn't stopped being a Thief---they just got slapped.  What their human inclination to do is is NOT get caught again so their thievery goes underground.

White folk are creating a new Racial Underground Railroad.

This draws me to a For Colored Girls.......... by Ntozake Shange choreo-moment.......Somebody almost run off wit alla my stuff & I waz standin there lookin at myself. The whole time & it wazn't a spirit took my stuff. Waz a man whose ego walked round like Rodan's shadow. Waz a man faster in my innocence. Was a lover I made too much room for almost run off wit alla my stuff & didn't know I'd give it up so quik. And the one running wit it don't know he got it. My stuff is the anonymous ripped off treasure of the year. Did you know somebody almost got away with me? Me in a plastic bag under their arm, me danglin on a string of personal carelessness. I'm spattered wit mud & city rain & no I didn't get a chance to take a douche.

I get that White people are trying to in justice (and guilt) clean up White folk messiness....and I'm kinda appreciative.  But it's like they clean up the mess before we get a chance to learn from the mess or teach from the mess. Instead of learning not to do it again or what was wrong in the first fundamental place, White people sweep it up so fast, castigate the offender that White and yes, even people of color, don't' learn exactly what the messiness was, where it came from, how it metastasized.  

The argument is that "they should know better."  

And you know what---they don't.  

Just like your FICO score is a mess, your momma got knocked up out of wedlock, your father got too drunk, you crashed the car, your ex did the same exact thing to you that they explained they'd done to their ex and your grandfather had an affair, you caught a sexually transmitted disease---just because we should know better, doesn't mean we do.

Learning doesn't happen by osmosis.

And sadly in defense of White people they profit from a hegemonic system based on White supremacy and entitlement but they didn't personally construct it as the individual that they are now.  (They drive the car that they didn't build.)

I'm not saying White people are dumb or stupid or ignorant or so lost in their entitlement that it would be an improvement to quantify them as routinely, lovingly and often, having their heads firmly up their asses when it comes to social dealings...but I am saying that...you know...it takes effort and learning for them not to default to the above.

To further my metaphor, in many ways individually, they are children driving cars that their forefathers constructed, not realizing how big, unwieldy and dangerous it is.

But the bigger problem is this White Race Mafia that thinks they're fixing the problem folk by shutting them down before we can have a discussion on just what the fuck happened.  Why?  Because then White folk with racist thoughts go underground, they go into a duplicitous mentality towards people of color.  We don't allow them to talk about their confusions, their mis-contextualized thoughts, their questions---remember they profited and managed racism but as anyone who's ever worked anywhere with a manager knows---your manager has a plan, an idea about how things should go but there's a whole different reality when it comes to the reality on the "floor".  They manage something that they aren't completely, generations past the architecture of, aware of the intricacy of the design.

White folk need Special Education.  

The kind of psycho-social Special Education re-training in the 21st century that only aware and engaged people of color can help administer.  When they co-opt racial justice and edification, stealing our stuff essentially, we're in for more madness.  Because race then becomes the guilt assuaging bunny rabbit for White folk to root out in each other but never their own selves.

Because here's what didn't happen in all the above incidences....other White people didn't admit that they too had said, done or thought those things.  

The biggest question for me in the whole Paula Deen drama was WHOSE party was she talking about having been at and WHO was sitting at that table?  Probably, predominantly a bunch of White folk who didn't get crucified like she did...and if we want to shift how they appreciate or desire those kinds of parties, we need them to understand the problematic concept of it.  But we never got to THEM because we were watching Paula Deen roast.  And honestly, when I think of the racial problem makers, it's not chubby White girls with visions of being Scarlett O'Hara with their own Butterfly McQueen's in attendance----it's the audiences that universally call that one of the best films of all time (coincidentally I've never seen it)----the silent majority in the audience.  That's who's warped perceptions we have to worry over.  The audience that accepts that overt racism on one hand and celebrates it as terrific entertainment and then destroys White people who act out racial stuff.  White people are consuming themselves and I would argue people of color are being drag into a false sense of racial progress.

And as history has taught us just because there are a few blood soaked bodies on crosses in the town square doesn't mean crucifixion is a good thing.



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1 comment:

  1. Great read! But the young european lady was right in her tweet. It is harder for europeans to be infected with HIV/AIDS than people of african descent. That's crazy within itself

    ReplyDelete