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toiletsalmon's Journal: Why you're probably a racist and don't even realize it

Journal by toiletsalmon

Taken from a specific post, but it still mostly applies:

OK. I'm willing to bet that YOU are at least a little racist, and it might not completely be your fault. After all, you choose to be an insensetive asshole, so the racist hat might fit too. I don't know.

First of all, following your link up there, I'm going to assume a few things about you:
a) you're a "white boy"
b) you probably live in the US.

I could be wrong, but I'll go out on a limb with that one. You seem to think that you speak with some level of authority on the subject of slavery, and slavery discussions usually center around the US. Even if you're not from the US, at least SOME of these same principles apply to most european derived cultures anyway.

Second thing, I am a "black man". My ancestors were indeed slaves. I have the "last name as a profession" to prove it. Butler. Granted, that gives the implication that some of my ancesstors probably got to stay inside with "Ole Massa", but they were slaves none the less.

Finally, my great-grandfather was a member of the group that slavery "evolved" into after the Civil War. The Share Cropper. Additionally, my grandmother was spit at as a child for being a "nigger" and my father and mother had to relocate themselves geographically to pursue their relationship because it was frowned upon in the southern state where they were born. Basically, my father didn't want to end up face down in a creek somewhere in the middle of the woods. The point I'm trying to make is that I feel I have at least some "authority" to speak on behalf of the minority side of this whole issue.

Now, to address your (proxied) assertions about slavery. First of all, like most "white" people, you too closely relate slavery and racism. Because of this, you like to draw the conclusion that because slavery ended after the Civil War, that "peculiar institution" also took it's cousin racism with it. NOT TRUE at all. Slavery is an action. A way of doing things. Racism is an idea. A state of mind. They are two totally different things, but they were used together here in the US. This is illustrated by the fact that not just anyone was allowed to be enslaved. There were very few "white" slaves in the early days of the colonies, and by the time of the Civil War, it was pretty much unheard of. Wouldn't it have been just as easy to enslave a poor white man who owes you large sums of money? Of course it would have, but because of RACISM, they soon decided that the proper people to be enslaved were Native Americans and Blacks.

Now that we've got that out of the way, the next thing I'd like to highlight is the fact that many white people GREATLY underestimate the extent to which slavery had a very real and everyday impact on the everyday life of an American. Do you realize that, at this point in time, my ancestors were officially denied basic human rights by the government of the United States of America for almost 40% of the lifespan of this nation. 87 years from 1776 till 1863. That's 143 years without slavery. HARDLY an impressive number. Slavery was on EVERYONE's mind. Two of the most popular books from the last two centuries dealt DIRECTLY with slavery. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Gone with the Wind". The first epic motion picture was "Birth of a Nation". It was about the KKK for Gods sake. Abolishing slavery was one of the most effective ways to kill the economy of the Confederates in the Civil War. No money means no bullets and food. If it's important enough to inspire or be a part of all these "big things" here in the US, I'm pretty sure that we can safely say that a) it WAS a big deal and b) it has probably left a pretty large blemish on our culture.

Which brings me to my point (finally) which is that: Because of all these things stewing away in the background, it has a profound effect on what little white boys like yourself are taught by parents, school teachers, HISTORY BOOKS, friends and neighbors. And that subtle lesson is this:

We (in the US) had slaves, but it was a "bad thing". The slaves we had, were black, so there must be something "wrong with them". That probably makes them not as valuable as us white folk.

These two things, plus the guilt that some white people feel for knowing that their grandfather still tells "nigger jokes" or whatever your family's little racist "skeleton in the closet" is (most families have them. Even mine)...Those three things are the basis for all kinds of racist behavior. Both conscious and subconscious. Have you ever thought about WHY you don't like some black people? Why don't you think black people are as attractive as white people? Why don't you have a more equal number of black and white friends? Why were so many of the frontline troops in the Vietnam war Black? Why does the media generally "care" more when little white girls are kidnapped compared to little black girls? Why are there so many poor black people? Why do some people immediately think that black men are good at sports like football and basketball? Would you be as likely to ask me if I play cricket? What about Lacrosse? Why do black children score lower in academic tests than white children? Why are there so few black video game directors? Why are there so few black people in IT? What was that whole blackface/minstrelsy thing all about? Why is Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama only the third (3. 3!! 1.2.3!) balck senator in the last 100 years. A whole century!

I'm not saying all of these things are caused directly and solely by slavery and racism, but they are both very much a part of the reason. There also a part of the reason why you and I didn't grow up in the same neighborhood, why we didn't go to the same highschool, and why we probably wouldn't go to the same neighborhood bars now.

So I say to you, I can't stop making race a "big deal" because it always HAS been a "big deal" and it STILL IS a "big deal". You're just in denial, like most of the white people in this country.

*And yes, it most certainly IS "most white people" in this country because, quite honestly, if it wasn't still a majority of you, we wouldn't still be treated like shit in this country.

**Of course, I am fully aware that I'll be modded into oblivion, by the self described pale, pasty legion that is /., but this shit started last week with that LocoRoco post by that asshole Florian on Kotaku, and It's starting to get a little difficult to ignore my "peculiar situation" when all the racist assholes come out of the woodwork.

***And no, I actually like white people. I've dated white girls, have many white friends, hell my MOTHER is white. So no, I don't have a "problem" with white people. Of course, that reminds me: Why do people consider me black if my mother is white? Yep, that's exactly why.

An optimist believes we live in the best world possible; a pessimist fears this is true.

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