Tags: racism

obama, bullwinkle, palin

Racism, sexism, idealism, and miracles

I was never really involved in actual "movements." I went to a couple of marches and stuff, took Women's Studies classes, but didn't go to meetings or hang out. I'm not a social kind of person, and most groups of any kind turn into little Peyton Places. Not my scene.

Instead, I read a lot of anti-racist and anti-sexist books and magazines. I therefore got a "purified" vision of what those movements really meant. Sure, there was still overt sexism in the anti-racist stuff, and there was usually some overt but more "accidentally exclusionary" racism in the anti-sexist stuff.

But I remember reading Ms. with all the interesting Black and Lesbian and Native American and Hispanic and international articles and fiction, and thinking, this is great, they're not leaving out women who aren't White, or even American.

So when I got into the big bad blogosphere where people were saying how the Women's Movement ignores people who aren't White, I felt some cognitive dissonance. I had been taking the movement at their word. And it's unfortunately confirmed my instinct that you can trust many books, and many ideas, but people in general are lying sacks of shit, will cheat and hurt each other for the smallest reason or no reason at all, that every group becomes cliquey and mean and self-serving and blindly bigoted.

On a friend's blog there was a discussion of if White people should police themselves rather than having non-White people tell them when they're being racist. That racism is the "property" of the racist and racists can recognize it and clean it up themselves.

We discussed whether one needs empathy to detect and get rid of racism. I think it's not, and in that thread I said that you don't have to have a personal stake in whether racism makes non-White people feel bad. You just have to see that it's not fair. It's illogical. It's like taking a bunch of pencils of all colors and throwing away all the blue ones, or using them only to prop the window open or stick in a fan to make noise.

Where I'm going with this is that I think there's a lot of complaining by people that they are being forced to care about other people that they don't really care about, groups they don't want to "fight for." That everything is a zero-sum game and they need to belong to a team and fight some other team for resources.

And I'm saying that's not necessary. Just don't be illogical. Don't be stupid. Keep your mind and heart a sewer if you want, but you know when you're being prejudiced, so just don't act on your prejudices. Drop the team shit.

I think a lot of parents discover that they raise less sexist and less racist children just by keeping their fucking mouths shut with the sexist and racist comments. Act, and the feelings will follow -- maybe not for you, though I think it eventually does. But for those who don't have the feelings burnt into them, the actions and feelings will be in harmony.

It's a sort of miracle, really. The despised "political correctness," even if your heart is filthy with sexism and racism, even if you conform to it with great resentment, results in something good. When the parent or adult messes up and says the horrible thing, the child is shocked and dismayed, and that may even shock and dismay the adult into behaving better.

The magazines and books I read hid a lot of the real racism and sexism of the movements they were representing from me, so I learned and absorbed the ideal, and not the reality of the shitty racist and sexist people who wrote them and said "but really you can't trust a woman/black/hispanic/$foo."

I'm glad I wasn't part of those movements. Idealism has a value. It transmits ideals. Don't lose it.