Racism: are we all having the same conversation?

No, and as with so many of our wedge issues, that’s a fundamental problem

Cracked posted a fine article that makes the case quite well.

From my humble position of privilege, I’ll suggest this much…a big part of the problem, one perpetuated by the way media frames complex issues in terms of ratings-building spectacle and sound bites, is semantics. Now, I’m sure it doesn’t feel like semantics if you’re a POC on the wrong end of a pissed-off cop’s bad day, or if you’re a cop dealing with a non-compliant POC, but a great many folks don’t know to distinguish racism from prejudice, or to observe the multifarious ways in which they are intertwined, and simply do not understand that the racism is an institutional thing…entire systems and ways of being and doing things that, while claiming to be colorblind, leave gaping holes in the justice one can expect if one has too much melanin.

Now, I’d suggest that those who most need to understand racism in this country should probably pick up some academic works on the subject, but honestly, considering how much important material is ruined with post-modernist BS wherein words mean any damned thing someone wants them to mean if they’re SMRT enough to torture words long enough, I’m not sure that’s the best advice. So I like to stick with poorly thought out, off-the-cuff analogies that at least try to make the case by extension.

Imagine a world where, no matter how hard you work, no matter how well you stick to the rules, no matter how punctual you are, no matter how good you are at what you do, your boss has some fine print somewhere that “justifies” taking your lunch break from you, docking your check, and making you come in on your days off. No matter how you try to deal with the boss, not only does nothing come of it, but the boss finds a way to take your complaint and turn it into a reason to dock your check again while telling you to come in on Saturday. You might start to think that the system is stacked against you.

That’s the key, right there. It doesn’t matter about the ways that the employee actually manages to get one over on the boss. It doesn’t matter that the employee has a shitty attitude (probably well-deserved). Nothing else really matters by comparison to the overarching HUGE concern that the system is stacked against the employee. One *could* suggest that those little (or occasionally big) things on the part of the employee need to be addressed or fixed, sure, but to suggest that that needs to happen before the systemic rigged game nature of it all gets tackled is a dick move. How should the employee feel if the boss says, “well, peon, if you fix your attitude and stop trying to get over on us, maybe we’ll see what we can do to suck less at being fair?”

So here’s a novel idea. How about, as a society, we stop being such EITHER/OR sorts and start working on AND? AND implies that things happen on each side WHILE the other side is making repairs to the things it gets wrong, not before or after. Before and after are part and parcel of EITHER/OR thinking.

How many folks think the boss in this story should tell the employee to choke on a bag of dicks because work ain’t fair?

Categories: Race/Gender

2 replies »

  1. I think we often arent often having the same conversation. We have different meanings for the same terms, different worldviews, and see different solutions to the same problems. Love your enemy seems like a good start?