Archives for posts with tag: probably racist

It seems that every single group of people gets their own month, their own week, or their own day. I mean, what do white people get, outside of the Oscars? Why don’t WE get a month? Well, there are a couple reasons. But I recently read an interview with Chris Rock that illuminated something about race, and really gender and sexuality as well, that suggested to me that straight/white/men need more of a focus than they are currently receiving.

I’ll give you the relevant text from the interview:

When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

What Chris Rock is saying is that, in regards to race, white people are the ones doing the progressing. Black people have always been human, with the capacity for intelligence and emotion that was long ignored in them, and to phrase race relations as black people making progress is to give the illusion that black people are the ones improving, whereas the opposite is true. White people have made great strides in becoming less moronic about the human beings that surround them, and it is white people who need to be the ones to continue to make great strides.

So why give us a month? Feminists have long argued, probably rightly so, that men do not take women seriously. There’s the old chestnut of the female executive saying something at a meeting, being ignored, and then a male colleague repeating her exact idea and being listened to, often taking the credit. It happens. However, if progressive change is to be made, would it not be logical for a male ally to be a prominent mouthpiece for the feminist movement? If feminists want to be taken seriously, and women aren’t taken seriously, why not use a man?

The artist Macklemore wrote a song called Same Love that advocated for same-sex relationships. It was a considerable blow in the fight to overcome homophobic cultural norms, but it received a great deal of criticism from gay-rights activists because Macklemore is straight. A suggestion I read was that if Macklemore wants to be an ally to the gay-rights movement, he should push homosexual rappers into the limelight, rather than hogging it for himself. Regardless of the impact that Same Love had on our culture, it was rejected by some of those that it was trying to help.

Is the goal not to overcome prejudice? Who cares who the messenger is? Well, some people do.

There is term called the Great White Saviour, and what this refers to is a white person, typically portrayed in films, that comes to care for and fight for either the Noble Savage, or the Oppressed Minority, or whoever it happens to be. You get the idea. Ol’ Whitey rolls in to town, and the great guy that he is, saves the minority and is revered as a hero. What this signifies is that white people are honourable, compassionate, moral beings, and minorities are weak and unable to do anything about their own condition.

This, of course, could apply to any such dominant figure, such as a straight person rapping about gay rights, or a man advocating for feminism, etc.

Do the voices of the dominant detract from the voices of the oppressed? Can we only ever steal credit? Comparing Hollywood’s crushing inability to properly convey progressive messages to the real-life work of advocates is a little unfair. Like relates to like, and the dominant group is going to relate most to others from the dominant group, and it’s the dominant group that needs to change. In my personal experience, it was Dr. Jackson Katz that was my first, real introduction into the world of feminism. He’s a man, by the way, if the name wasn’t a big enough indicator. The message was an important one, and because it was delivered by somebody I could relate to, I was able to listen.

If the message is good, why not pick the messenger that the people most needing to hear it will listen to?

Post-script: I am aware that this is not a new idea, and that many social justice advocates are desperate for the voices of allies. Maybe if there was a month celebrating those allies, the quieter ones would be more likely to pipe up?

I’m also not trying to disparage the work that minority rights activists do. We wouldn’t have any allies at all if they weren’t doing all the heavy lifting.

Ladies and germs, I love good, righteous indignation as much as the next fella. Hell, probably more-so. I love getting riled up at the injustices in the world, and yammering on about them without actually doing anything to change them. Being an armchair ethicist is what I do.

When I first heard about the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case, boy howdy I was furious. Hemming and hawing, all that good stuff to get the blood flowing. Then Zimmerman was found innocent and I just rolled my eyes and thought, “good going, AMERICA!” Smug in my righteous zeal, I sat quietly waiting for the next tragedy to unfold so I could bring down the flames once again.

Then I read a news article that mentioned that Trayvon Martin was black, and George Zimmerman identified as being Hispanic. Exact words. And I thought, how come Zimmerman doesn’t get to have a race in this? For a case that seemed to rely so heavily on racial overtones, why does one person get to have a race, and the other only gets to identify as having one? If you think that maybe since Zimmerman is half-white he doesn’t get to have a race (also keep in mind that white counts as a race too, but we don’t need to get into that), well then remember that America didn’t elect a president that identifies as being black. My point is that from this simple phrasing, we can assume the media is trying to frame George Zimmerman as not being ethnic, so as to fuel the flames of this already huge media firestorm.

So let me play devil’s advocate on what we actually know that went down:

Zimmerman sees a youth wandering the streets at night. He chooses to follow him. Does he follow him because the youth is black, or does he follow him because he is the captain of the neighbourhood watch of a gated community, and more than likely knows everyone and their dog in that area, and can tell that this youth had never been around there before?

Zimmerman calls the police, who tell him to desist following the youth. Zimmerman ignores the advice. Does he ignore it because he thinks he has a shot at taking on this black kid, or does he ignore it because he thinks he can probably handle a teenager on his own and feels he doesn’t need to wait for the police who might needlessly complicate things?

There is a confrontation. Zimmerman gets beaten the hell up. Trayvon Martin gets shot. I can’t find anything that says that Trayvon Martin had damage done to him other than the bullet wound, so it’s quite possible that he was the one who threw the first punch. He may have felt threatened after having been followed, but does that excuse instigating violence? Zimmerman had two black eyes, a broken nose, and a wound on the back of his head that suggests he probably fell backwards and hit his head on something. George Zimmerman had a gun. He used it.

Self-defense is a tricky thing. If you’re getting badly beaten up in a bar, and the only thing you can do is grab a beer bottle and break it over your attacker’s head, you’d probably do it. It may not be as likely to kill him as shooting him, but your attacker may still die if you hit him in the right spot. Zimmerman fired once, after having been beaten in the face repeatedly, so it was unlikely he was aiming for a killing shot.

Concealed weapon laws are the reason that option was on the table for Zimmerman. Had Zimmerman not used his gun, and the beating continued, worst case scenario is that Zimmerman would have been beaten into a coma. Do I think that a comatose 35 year old is better than a dead 16 year old? Of course. Gun reform in the US is a huge issue, and I would love to see that option for people off the table. But I sincerely doubt that George Zimmerman would agree with me on that, considering he would be the one in the coma, and I’m just in the armchair.

Lastly, there is the talk that Zimmerman was getting off lightly because Trayvon Martin is black and Zimmerman is not. But last I checked, Hispanics in the States don’t really get preferential treatment either, so that accusation doesn’t really fly with me.

It is incredibly unfortunate what happened to Trayvon Martin. Whenever someone dies for no reason, and a youth especially, everyone should mourn. But was it a hate crime? I don’t know. Everyone seems to be clammering about how it is, so I guess it must be. But I think there’s just as much evidence to suggest that Zimmerman was being ageist as much as there is that he was being racist.

Based on the evidence that we have, and the laws of Florida, it is easy to see how Zimmerman was found innocent in a court of law. Does that make it right? Like I said, self-defense is a tricky thing. I want you to put yourself in that position, in the heat of the moment, in fear and pain, and with that one option standing between you and a possible coma. Is it horribly racist? I don’t know. It certainly opened up the race debate in the States again, which is always a good thing, but do we scapegoat Zimmerman if it wasn’t in fact racially motivated? Is *that* right?

Did this greatly offend you? Do you feel as though I’m a terrible person for having thought these terrible thoughts? Good. Convince me I’m wrong. I miss having the fury coursing through my veins. But you have to do better than, “Racism against blacks exists in the States. Trayvon Martin was black. Therefore, his death must have been racially motivated.” Find me legit news articles that have Zimmerman wearing a white hood. For the Canada Day bombing threat, I saw article upon article about how one of the alleged bombers was once seen wearing a burkha, and how another neighbour thought they overheard the term “jihad” used in a phone conversation. That kind of shit makes the news all the time because it sells papers. Where is it with George Zimmerman? Convince me this is more than just a tragic happenstance that would have occurred regardless of Trayvon Martin’s race.