Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"You can't fly jets if you're colorblind."

The above quote is from the movie "Little Miss Sunshine". Frank (played by Steve Carell) informs his nephew Dwayne that he would never become a fighter pilot because he is colorblind. Now I'm not here to talk about that movie (although I recommend it). I'm talking about racism. Sudden transition I know but follow me.

Lets take a look at the phrase:

"I'm colorblind."

It is traditionally understood that to be colorblind is to not be able to distinguish between colors or only be able to properly perceive a limited number of colors. Over time it would seem that the word has been applied in a new manner. These days when person says that they are colorblind they may not necessarily be talking about the color spectrum that we learned about in elementary art class. But it is just (if not more now) as likely that said person is referring to the inability to distinguish between differences in skin color. Lets break this down shall we?

When a person mentions that they are colorblind it is usually a declaration that they don't see the difference between the races. Now think about such a declaration for a moment:

"I don't see the difference between the races."

Now depending on how the person making that declaration meant it and how the person hearing this declaration this can go down in one of two ways:

1. "I know that people have different skin colors but I will do my best to treat them all the same."


2. "I'm going to treat people the same as everyone else and their color, and the issues that come along with it, doesn't matter."

Now I think most people mean option 1. They truly think that a person's skin color should not have any bearing on the way they are treated. And if the person/people that hear(s) this declaration take it the same way there probably won't be anything wrong. However I am not naive enough to believe that everyone that says or hears that will interpret it as option 1.

The problem starts when option 2 comes up. Now treating everyone the same is a good thing in the spirit of fairness. But to proclaim that you will treat people fairly but then follow up by telling them their race issues don't matter? Thats not very fair is it? No one wants to have issues just pushed aside like they don't exist. I have my own racial baggage and I'd be more than upset if someone just ignored it. And if you aren't sure just think about a racial issue that affects you (we all have them, yes even white people) and then ask yourself, "How would I feel if someone said they would treat me fairly but then said my issue did not matter?"

So the next time you are tempted to say that you're colorblind realize that regardless of your intent depending on who you're talking to you might not sound all PC and hip but instead you'll come out sounding racist. If it is not your intent to sound racist then just pick your words a little better (I say don't get caught up in hip slogans just say what you mean even if it makes you sound long winded) and you'll be fine. If your intent is to sound racist...well there's a special place in hell for you along with people that talk in movie theaters.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Musings of a Womanist

A few days ago Renee over at Womanist Musings put up post that was well I'll just say interesting. In said post Renee comments on the parody video (there is a link to the clip in the post) about why news agencies aren't going on and on about the John McCain calling his wife a cunt. Her focus is near end of the clip where there is a quick conversation between the news staff that consisted of:

Anonymous Black woman: John McCain called his wife the worst word there is.

Anonymous Black Man: What, She's not even black

Anonymous White Man: No cunt, John Mccain called his wife a cunt

Anonymous Black Man: No way

She points how his first thought was a racial slur instead of a sexist slur. Seeing as she is a black woman I really can't blame Renee for being a little put off by it and when I stopped and tried to think about it from the black woman's angle (which is in my mind the is the biggest contribution of this post) it made sense she would be angry. But once she pointed that out she continued on into some things that I really don't agree with.

First there is this:
I think that this is a very revealing look at the black male psyche. In their mind the only oppression that is real, is related to race. Gender very seldom factors into the equation, and this is a problem.

Actually gender factors in the equation for black men a lot. While the issues that blacks face are racially charged (education, economic standing, employment) just as black women have several issues that are unique to them there are issues that are unique to black men. And as far as being a very revealing look its not. That one example offers about as much insight as saying that woman kicking the guy in the crotch near the end reveals that black women think its okay to respond to words with physical violence (and that would be totally wrong and unfair).

Next we have this:
The key here is that, while a black male is usually oppressed due to race or class, they still operate with a form of male privilege.

Privilege is a word that I've thinking about over recent months (with a lot of it done at Feminists Critics. If you're curious I'm using the handle Danny there.) And part of what I've been thinking about is the fact feminists like to point the privilege finger at men at every turn while at the same time denying their own privilege (yes women have privileges, they aren't just side effects of sexism.) That doesn't disprove male privilege mind you but I think denying their own privilege gives them a little extra courage when calling out male privilege.

Here we have:
While all POC must negotiate racism, it is only women that must negotiate sexism.

That's just wrong. Black women most definitely have to negotiate sexism but to think black men don't have to deal with it is just plain wrong and I think that only a person that thinks sexism can only be male against female would believe it. Different forms of sexism mind you but sexism nonetheless.

Next there is:
Even though black men represent an oppressed group within society, they are still intent on creating a patriarchal power structure that mirrors the one currently run by white males.

I'd really like to know where she got this conclusion from. But one thing I've seen for sure is that there are feminists out there that won't think twice about securing as many women/girl-only privileges and protections as they can no matter how many men/boys they destroy.

In fact the two combine to create a unique kind of social stigmatization that is specific only to us.

Yes that is correct. It is also correct for black men, asian women, white men, latin women etc...

Newsflash the word cunt gets thrown at black women too, and it is equally demeaning as the word nigger.

Its not anything new. Just because black women are the only demographic that has to deal with both of these words does not mean no one else is concerned about them. Nor does that mean that no one else thinks they are offensive

Despite the many things I picked out of her post I won't say Renee is overreacting nor will I accuse her of whining or being over sensitive. But she does seem to take that conversation and make some very long reaching assertions.

I mentioned over at Amy Alkon's site a few days ago that she may not be the stereotypical angry feminist that is running on nothing but blind hatred. If people of all walks of life are going to get along and if any hope of real equality is going to brought to fruition then we all have to start listening to each other. I'm not promising that I'll hang on to Renee's every word and become a loyal follower of her brand of feminism but I'll drop in to hear her out.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My first post

For the last several months I've been thinking about trying to start blogging. Hell everyone else is doing it so why not me? If I'm good at it I'll be come will known and if I suck then I can fade away quietly.

Seriously the reason for this blog is me to share the thoughts in my head and possibly get some feedback. I really don't intend to focus too much on one subject. Just like any person I have thoughts on race relations, gender relations, music, books, and lots of other things.

So just sit back and enjoy the ride. And one more thing I'm new to blogging so don't be surprised if you see sudden changes as I get used to it.