Friday, November 14, 2008

When is it Racism?

My brother sent me a video that is making its rounds today. It's a Snoop Dogg video that has been modified to add a slide to the beginning ("Air Force One") and a slide to the end ("Go Obama!"). I suppose these two slides are supposed to make it less racist to have a video floating about that shows black men flying a purple plane equipped with hydraulics, a tape deck, and an all black crew.

I responded to him with an uncomfortable, "It's kind of funny, but it's racist." He disagreed. Because it was a Snoop Dogg video, he asserted that it wasn't racist. I told him that I couldn't imagine our President-Elect jiving and rapping, and that I didn't like the insinuation that a black president needed a purple plane with hydraulic shocks. It goes back to the racism I dealt with growing up in the South. I always knew it was wrong, but I had no choice but to live with it.

My blog-buddy Brian recently wrote about something he saw written on the bathroom wall. It was horrible, and he had the maintenance guy take it down. I just kept wondering why we have such horrible racism in this country - STILL.

And my brother just doesn't get it. This isn't the first racist email he's sent me in the last week, but he saw neither one of them as racist. The political diatribes have been replaced with "funny" racial emails. I think the racists are coming out of the woodwork right now because their "values" are being challenged. They might have to admit that a black man is as capable of being president as anyone else. Who knows what they'll do when they have their first Hispanic president. I can hear it now...

So does it become racism only when it's directed at you by another group of people? Or is it always racism? Personally, I think it's racism even when you're doing it to "your own kind," but I can no more stop that than I can stop the emails from being forwarded. All I can do is press delete and not let the pollution pass through my hands. When will we all realize that we are all one? We are all the human race.

Peace - D


Not Afraid to Use It said...

I think this election has forced many people to re-evaluate their beliefs. I think it will be a hard road for many.

SandyCarlson said...

Oh, yeah. I see it in my little ghetto school all the time. The kids think if they use the derogatory terms for their own race, it's OK. Try telling them it's still racism! Or that it offends the white lady! Wow. It's like I have no right. Then there is the other group--the polite people who smile neatly while they are coming out with it. Too frustrating!

Leslie: said...

It's strange, but I never thought of Obama as "black" because we have so many different racial groups here that it's like "white" is the minority anyway. And he doesn't have any "slavery" background, being the son of a black Kenyan and a white American. It's like I just have to go "Huh?" whenever the Amerians talk about it. What is the big deal?

Mental P Mama said...

There is, unfortunately, no fast cure for ignorance.

Ruth D~ said...

Racism is slippery. I think, apart from the full-blown obvious everyone agrees it's racism stuff, it's in the mind of the beholder. We all have different sensitivities, and we all know our own hearts. And each of us is a particular race . . . and each race is subject to nasty or funny-- depends on the POV-- comments.

I think true racism exists deep in the heart. some of the surface stuff may or may not reflect racism.

Make sense?

Virtualsprite said...

I agree with Ruth, but I think I'd prefer to err on the side of caution. I don't like getting videos or e-mails like that either.

Maggie May said...

Obama is half white!!!!!!!
Can't see what the fuss is about!
The only people who are not racist in some way, are small children!
My half Japanese nearly four year old granddaughter, has a best friend who is Anglo/ Afro.(Whatever that is! Bit like Obama) It is a lovely friendship. They put their arms round each other & greet each other with pure joy!
We would do well to learn from little children.

Some times though I think the Government here is racist in reverse! With their adverts asking for ethnic minorities needed in this area. Imagine how that would be if it was the other way round!

Moannie said...

It all makes me feel very sad, and nervous and angry. Why, if the vast majority profess to be Christians, can they not remember that we are all God's children.
Racism is learned. We are not racists as children, adults teach children to be racist.
We can only hold our breath and hope that change will come...though we might have to wait until all peoples are the same colour.

Akelamalu said...

Thank goodness for the delete button eh? :(

RiverPoet said...

NATUI - Very true. My biggest fear is an assassination. There are so many threats against him primarily because of his race.

SandyC - I imagine you do see and hear some things. Must be difficult to deal with on a daily basis.

Leslie - Indeed, what is the big deal? But he represents the ultimate affront to the neo-Nazis among us.

MPM - Oh, but if you find a fast cure, could you pass it on???

Ruth D - Good point. It really does depend on the POV, but we have to be so careful in this powder keg culture we seem to live in.

Virtualsprite - Yes, most of my relatives and friends know me well enough not to send them, particularly because it was them who ostracized me when I dated a black boy in my youth. I was practically run out of town on a rail.

Maggie - Indeed he is half white, but people seem only to pay attention to skin color and not true heritage. If only they could see their own DNA and realize that we all have a little of everything in us.

Moannie - Yes, that's one of my biggest complaints. If one is Christian, how can one be prejudiced?

Akela - Oh, and I use it liberally!

Peace - D

Lavinia said...

Racism is racism. It's so disheartening. I think you are right. Some people having trouble grappling with the reality that a black man can be---and is---president. As if a long string of white presidents haven't made a thorough mess of things!!

I am like you---any 'pollution' emails (and comments on my blog) end with me. Delete, delete, delete.

RiverPoet said...

Lavinia - Somehow I knew that's how you'd see it. Thank you for the comment, my friend - D

Cloudia said...

Living as a minority in Hawaii is a wonderful lesson for many causasians who move here. Brown xenophbia has the virtue of growing out of real injustice. We are all feeling our way. Hate grows from pain and ignorance. I suspect your brother is growing and seeks indirect teaching from you. Thanks for your thoughtful post today.

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Very true riverpoet!
I totally get what you're saying and it's a sad fact that most rascists don't even realise that they are being racist, they stay oblivious to it all.
And I agree too that it truly is a sad fact that there is still so much prejudice in the world and would love to see an equal qorld where everyone would just accept everyone... whatever their colour, race, sex, sexuality or differences...
But it seems that day is still a long way off, sadly :(
Big Hug x and thanks for all your lovely comments on my recent blog posts! I have already written and posted part four tonight...

jay said...

It has indeed become a bit of a minefield.

What upsets me a lot these days is that there is now a lot of racism towards white people creeping in, and it's perpetrated by those who ought to know better. It's low key most of the time, but that's how these things start. It's insidious. It's even being used on television news programmes - it seems they are allowed to point the finger at young white people and mention their race in a derogatory way, but not even mention that young black people are indeed black.

If someone is victimised and they're white, nothing happens. If someone is victimised and they're black, it's racist.

It almost seems that we have a situation brewing where the white generation of today is being asked to suffer for the sins of their fathers, which to my mind is not the way to promote racial harmony.

I've always treated people as people, regardless of colour or origins and it smarts to be slapped in the face. I know that many black people will just say 'well, now you know how it feels', and to some extent I can understand that. But I'm not a racist, and I resent being lumped in along with those who are.

Bottom line is that everyone, black, white, Asian, Chinese, whatever, needs to be on the same page.

Or is that just me being racist without knowing it?

Daryl said...

I dont think there's a racist out there who thinks they are a racist AND many many others who believe they are tolerant and still pass along 'jokes' or videos like the ones you got.

IMO the reason many are bigoted is because they have never known a (fill in the blank) ... and rely on myths they learned growing up .. just like child/spousal abuse racism gets passed along .. why there are still people who think Jews have horns!


RiverPoet said...

Cloudia - I love that you said "Hate grows from pain and ignorance. I suspect your brother is growing and seeks indirect teaching from you", and I think you may be right.

Brit - You're right. It's a long way off, but I think every choice we make takes us a little closer to equanimity. My first step each time is to cry foul and then educate. I honestly don't think my brother saw this as racism because it was a Snoop Dogg video. What he didn't realize was that by adding the titles and making the video about Obama's presidency, it was using a tired stereotype to paint over a great man.

Jay - You're right; regardless of which group is stereotyping and generalizing another, it's racism. I wonder if we will ever truly appreciate the rainbow that makes up humankind. Seems that some people are just looking for a "them" to hate!

Daryl - As I wrote to you separately, I think it's truly sad that such anti-Semitism is still so pervasive. Did we learn nothing in WW II??

Peace - D