Friday, April 1, 2011

"I'mma take you on a trip... way back..." Well, not really. [thoughts on racism/prejudice]

This could be considered cheating, but I never gave stringent rules on how my 40-day posting would go. So, today, for a lack of things I feel like speaking on critically (some days, I need a break from my own mental and emotional rigor), I will repost something for you. This is a piece I wrote last year on racism and prejudice, and it's funny: a person I used to consider a friend proved my theory right that a lot of people have lost the ability to think and process critically, and that we have become a society of first-responders to trigger words and thoughts. He read my post sensationally, not for critical thought, and came at me with shade on my Facebook, of all damned places. Needless to say, that "friendship" was ended not long after that scenario, and I feel my life is better for it. Why'd I tell you all this?

I don't know. Felt like telling you a story about an ass.

Continue on.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010: Why racism will (probably) never die
(This is something I wrote at work this morning. Yeah, you could be offended, but probably only if you don't actually read through the entire text. My suggestion is to read entirely and not partially.)

I see how people become racist.

Not saying it's correct, but I understand how it occurs.

For starters, there's the lady who slammed on her brakes in this morning's traffic, even though I wasn't tailgating her, preceded to flip me off through her side mirror and talk shit to me. (Yeah, I called her a bitch inside my vehicle and laughed and smiled at her. She eventually moved to let me pass, probably to take down my license plate number or something equally as "professional." [I really wanted to say "something equally as white," but I figured that might be offensive.]) She was white. But, that could just be a coincidence, though I don't believe in coincidences.

Then, there are (some of) the people I live with, whose style of cleanliness is sometimes so different from mine that I wonder whether I've slipped into another dimension. (No Twilight Zone.) Garbage left in the house to stink up the living room instead of being taken out, dishes left for days, dishes put into the dishwasher only to emerge with food caked on them, bathroom trash never taken out, hair left in the drain, the absence of everything and anything good smelling, no vacuuming (ever), no sweeping of the floor (ever), no mopping, no cleaning of the countertops... I could go on forever. Well, they are white. Another coincidence.

There's the people in supervisory positions I've had mucho trouble with, who aren't that qualified to hold the positions they do, one who was even fired for her lack of professionalism that she took care to extend my way. (And this time, I actually mean professional, not "white.") Yep, they were and are white.

White people are always the ones cutting me off in traffic, always the ones slamming on their brakes to try to make me hit them, they are always the ones snitching on anything that doesn't fit their mold of "appropriate." White girls were always the ones at school getting drunk and screaming their way down Museum Rd., always getting drunk and throwing up on the sidewalk. White people are always dirty, white people always argue with the police. White people are always awkward, white people always need you to like them.

All white people are exactly as I just said.


Do I believe the generalizations I just listed? Not at all. Because they are just that--generalizations. You can insert a different race and different circumstances, and have an entirely new set of generalizations that seem to fit that race.

I listed all of these because I understand how people are prejudiced; how they become racist. The generalizations I listed are all things I've happened to observe or experience with individual people, all who happened to be white.

Being the knowing person that I am, I can separate individual white people from the entire group, just like I can do with any other group. But while I can do that, I understand how some people cannot--or choose not to--do the same.

If a person is continually exposed to negative experiences that all come from the same stimuli, they are going to be conditioned to believe that spoken stimuli will always cause them discomfort or negative experiences. They will lose the ability to tell anything otherwise. It's psychology, baby. If I pet someone's dog, and their dog bites me, I might be scared of their particular dog, but maybe not all dogs. But then say I meet another dog and that dog bites me. And then I see another dog and it bites me too. It's not going to take long before I associate the negative experience with all dogs, and probably not long before I decide that I don't like dogs all together. Is it right to judge all dogs based on the three I had bad experiences with? Is it fair? It may not be either, but it's going to seem rational to me, based on my experiences. Did I consider what breed of dog I was dealing with, or what the home conditions of that dog are like? Did I consider the age of the dog, or prior circumstances of the dog? No, I didn't, and logically, I wouldn't care. All I would know is that dog = bad, no matter what type of dog it is; no matter where it came from.

Although I like to consider myself knowing and educated, an intellectual, even, I have to fight against my natural human condition and remind myself when my white housemate is nasty as fuck or when a white sorority girl's biggest problem is a date for formal, or when that white, troll looking bitch with the muppet haircut taunts me while I'm just trying to drive to work, when all these things happen, I have to remind myself that it's not all white people. The same way that I have to remind myself that not all Asian people are smart, not all Black people are rappers, and not all short people are irritating.* But, it's certainly easy to forget this higher thinking when one particular stimuli offers the same outcome.

It might not be right, but it certainly is logical.

*--this has yet to refuted, but I put it in there for good measure.

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