Posted 6 months ago on Nov. 11, 2012, 2:05 p.m. EST by gnomunny
from St Louis, MO
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
I had a rough draft of this laying around for awhile and kept flip-flopping on whether or not to post it, but was prompted by the recent spate of racism-related posts and these two posts specifically:
The first one isn't about race, but about the general treatment we often show each other. For the record, my experience didn't mirror elf3's, and I was a bit saddened when reading it. When I ventured out it was a chilly, drizzly day, but everyone was polite and in a good mood. My voting experience was pleasant. The second one really prompted me, since a couple of the comments mirrored my sentiments so closely. But also prompted, admittedly, by being accused of being a "racist piece of shit" by the forum mascot for having the audacity to point out that black Americans don't have exclusive claims to racism, oppression and violence.
Race relations is a big, complicated issue. No pun intended, but it's not simply black and white, and I don't profess to have any answers. My world-view, like yours, is filtered by my unique history, upbringing, and experiences. My biases, DNA, and skin tone. What follows is just one white boy's perspective, a few observations, a miniscule piece of our collective 7 billion piece jigsaw puzzle. It started out as a rambling tome covering everything from the origins of the N. American slave trade in 1507 Spain, and how it's 'Hispanic' origins are curiously absent from the dialog, all the way to Bischoff the butcher's grandson being assaulted for being 'white,' although his 100% German family never even got here until 1890, but I felt it better to distill it a bit. Trim a bunch of fat. And try not to be divisive.
A couple weeks ago I posted a comment about Irish immigrants coming here to escape the "Great Hunger" (those who could afford it) and how they were often treated when they arrived and I was attacked by a couple forum members whose entire understanding of Irish history has apparently been derived from watching "The Gangs of New York" a couple times. A good movie, but not a good history lesson. So, I would suggest trying starvation as a lifestyle to give a better perspective on a plight still being experienced by millions of people planet-wide. Try it for a month and get back to me. Nothing but moldy bread and brackish stream water allowed. In fact, until you've had to make the gut-wrenching decision to watch one of your children literally starve to death so your other two children might live, I suggest STFU, because you have no idea of what true oppression is. And, since it is true that it's flat out impossible, visually, to tell the difference between me and Randy the Redneck, still proudly flying his rebel flag, apparently, since I also share a skin tone with Randy, I'm supposed to share in this "collective white guilt." Guilt by proxy. Fuck that, the entire concept is ludicrous. My anecdote was dismissed with the question, "Yeah, but how have the Irish treated the blacks since then?" An equally valid question is, "How have the blacks treated the Irish?" Like Irish immigrants? Or like "white folk?" But, wait, I said I wasn't going to be divisive. Apologies. Back on point:
A decade or so ago when I worked as a delivery driver, I was hired to train new drivers (note to the ex-wife: Yes, there is more to the delivery business than just "driving around in circles all day." lol). One of my more memorable days was training a South Korean guy, and besides giving me an interesting perspective on the average S. Koreans' opinion about our military presence, he had an opinion on this subject as well. Like many Koreans, his family came to this country for the same old reason: to save some money and eventually open a small business to experience the "Dream." Being business-minded, they'll usually locate in poorer neighborhoods, not because of ethnics, but simple economics. It's cheaper to live and operate a business there and their types of businesses thrive on walk-in's. But what infuriated him the most was his people constantly being referred to as "gooks." Constantly. For those that don't know, "gook" is a derogatory term for the Chinese. Also for those of you that don't know, the Chinese have coveted that little peninsula for a very long time, and as my "trainee du jour" was quick to point out, by and large, the South Koreans hate the Chinese. He was far more bothered by being mistaken for his mortal enemy than the fact that "gook" is a racial slur. I'd be hard-pressed to find a better example here in the US of such blind indifference to someone's history or culture but I imagine it would be akin to me constantly referring to the black guy across the street as a "honky slave-master," I don't know.
One more point about the delivery business, and a must-know for new trainees. A number of my ex-employer's clients, some are household names, had a hard and fast rule against any deliveries coming in the front door, regardless of how important the package may be. They would cease all business with my ex-employer (and the driver would be fired) if this rule was ever broken. Now, I can understand the inconvenience it might cause hauling fifty boxes of letterhead thru the marble-encrusted lobby, but a single envelope addressed to the company CEO stamped 'Urgent?' WTF? Having just as much pride and self-respect as just about everyone else on the block, I resented the hell out of this. Sometimes I bristled, but never let it show. Drive around back. Look for the door marked specifically for "you guys." "Shades of Sammy Davis," if you catch my drift. Classism, just like racism, is stigmatizing.
Now, about those 'Hispanics.' The term Hispanic isn't a slur, of course, it's merely a catch-all phrase for a diverse group of people. I don't think any of us are naive enough to believe that an Iberian multimillionaire sipping cocktails in his Ibiza villa and a member of the Awa tribe gathering fruit in what's left of the Brazilian rain forests have anything close to a shared heritage, and this is why many Portuguese, Cubans, Bolivians, etc. resent the term 'Hispanic.' It reflects a lack of knowledge, indeed respect, for an individual's culture or history. Like the term "gook," derogatory or not, such words and phrases reflect a general ignorance, and often indifference, of our unique individualities (and one reason I'm against the concept of a homogeneous population. Not to preserve my "white skin," but because the end result would be, well, . . . boring).
Is racism a big problem and should it be addressed? Absolutely. But it's multifaceted, and very few of us are totally immune, or totally guiltless. Like many of our problems, the solution often begins at home. But it also helps immensely to have a clear picture of it all. And equally as important, know where the problems really lie. Know thine enemy. Is the problem really some inner-city white guy whose distant ancestor owned three slaves (according to a 1775 Last Will and Testament) but whose later descendants died in the Civil War fighting for the North? Is it the immigrants, who are here to "steal all our jobs," or just because they're different? Is it OWS, who some apparently think loses all legitimacy if it doesn't make race it's front and center issue? Or is it the government, who are gleefully aware that racism was tailor-made for a "divide and conquer" strategy (and are milking it for all it's worth) and are absolutely mortified at the concept of a unified and angry population? It's my personal belief that anyone who hates, or even judges, simply on the basis of skin tone is playing by their rules, regardless of how justified you've been made to feel. If you truly are a racist, go for it. Go ahead and feel it. Just don't show it. When you show it, or act on it, you're playing their game. You're being played.
You see, except for that check-box on a job application or government form, or for scientific classification perhaps, there's no such thing as "Hispanic," really. Or "Asian." Or "black" or "white" for that matter. They're labels. Words that mean far, far less than what we've been trained to believe they mean. They're "red-state" "blue-state." Divide and conquer.
And one more thing: If ,by some miracle, racism would magically vanish from this planet overnight . . . the delivery man will still have to use the back door.