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4:45 p.m. - February 12, 2003
On race, racism, class, and confusion
Are you racist? Am I racist? I can legitimately say that Iíve never disliked anybody on the basis of color Ė after all, I donít like many people anyways Ė but I am irritated by the occupants of the house on the next block that is housing people who drive a total of 17 vehicles, vehicles that are parked up and down the street every night. Neither myself or Conrad has counted exactly how many people domicile there, but I donít shake my head and say Damn Mexicans; I shake my head and say I wonder if the fire department acts on anonymous tips? The cars bother me for no better reason than I like empty streets and Iím anxious someone will dart under my wheels. Maybe itís a class thing, as abhorrent as that is; I mean, itís easy for me to assume these people are congealed for financial reasons, but it could be that they take the dictum It takes a villageÖ literally and the whole village lives there. I donít know. So racist; am I? Iím reflecting on my beliefs and more importantly, actions, and nothing comes up; Iím not a fan of stupid people, loud people, smokers, stupid people, teen-age mothers and scofflaw fathers, whores, johns, people who donít flossó

Found one.

I dislike the scent of Indian food. Does that make me racist or simply narrow-minded and anti-food?

Race, class, oppression, and white guilt are on my mind because earlier today I watched a film called Last Chance for Eden used in diversity/sensitivity training sessions conducted by Stir Fry Seminars. Iím bothered but not angry; Iím perplexed. I think the video is powerful but watching it, I felt defensive. There are a number of brown/black/yellow/white/other? individuals who talk about the racism theyíve encountered and the three white individuals (oops, sorry, European Americans) were essentially called to task and condemned for reaping the benefits of having white skin and asked to take responsibility for the collective unbalance of contemporary society, a society oppressive to those who are not white. One participant, a Navajo from Arizona, came across as racist against white people Ė some things she said made me cringe Ė and I couldnít help wonder if itís okay nowadays to be racist if one is racist because others are racist against you and you happen to be a minority, almost like anti-racism racism. Iím neither an idiot or sheltered and I know racism exists, Iíve seen it in the casual jokes, the outright dislike, but if thatís racism then I will say I am not racist; but that didnít come out in the film. Essentially, it was European Caucasians are bad, everybody else is pissed off and will make you cry because you deserve it. I think A[deleted]aís situation is racism, period: Her boyfriend of 5 years broke up with her recently because his parents couldnít come to terms with having brown grandchildren, should European American Joe and African American A[deleted]a sire offspring. I donít know; maybe Iím stupid and oblivious.

And the terminology! European Caucasians, African American, the standard; what about black Africans who immigrated to Europe and whose children are now living in America? Would they be European African Americans or European Negroid African Americans? I mean come on, Negroid is as scientific as Caucasian, but one of those terms probably would make anybody recoil. Am I racist because I donít know the difference simply by looking at someone whether they are Asian, Southeast Asian, or Far Eastern Asian? And I can go on about the African part to American, always thinking of a (black) friendís mother saying Jason, Iím no more African than you are while I was in high school and into political correctness. Itís the woe is me phenomenon all over again, everybody seeking redress and rectification and guilt and apologies and the privileging of one over another Ė which in most cases is wrong, unless itís privileging the oppressed who want to be on top, in which case itís okay, desired, and maybe even optimal Ė and I donít claim to have the answers but this cannot be it. Yes, itís criminal that Native Americans were decimated but Iím racist because I say I have a legitimate reason for being here, a claim that marginalizes the fact that this land was stolen? Iím legitimate because this is where Iím from, like it or not. Period.

Do I understand that systematic repression and racism influences behaviors and those behaviors potentially coloring (pun intended) perceptions? Yes, I do; do I know that people suck and are evil? Yes, I do, but this goes for minorities as well. But Iím not a fool; I know A[deleted]aís luck with tickets compared to my clean Ė and undeserved Ė record. But racism is the act of an individual, not of a collective group hued more or less the same; I refuse to think otherwise. And apparently that refusal is bad. Well bad bad me.

OK, I thought of something Ė I hate the lumping together of Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, Transsexual. But does that count? I donít know.

I donít know!

After the viewing, the facilitators (each of whom starred in the film) asked everybody to respond, to air their thoughts. [Editorís note: One of the facilitators was a menopausal woman who had a facial hair goatee going on. I was repulsed and fascinated simultaneously. I wanted to look closer but you know, I was raised better than that. I was in agony. I could write more about that but itís already established that Iím phallo-centric in addition to being insensitive, a perpetuator of injustice, and likely only parroting one set of beauty ideals when in all likelihood there is a group of womyn and men who happen to find women with goatees Ė stringy, long, thin haired Ė attractive, and thus I should be open-minded. Jesus, I just made my skin crawl. Iím evil.] Your standard tears and chest-beating remorse until one man inquired about the overall point of the film; was it to share experiences or beat somebody up? And the facilitator said Itís a wake up call to those who need it most, all those who are not oppressed. Well damn it, everybodyís oppressed in one way or another so quit the fucking whining.

And thatís all I have to say about that.

Iím aggravated and not thinking clearly. Am I always cynical? I love discussing race but Iím bothered. Bothered! They win; one point them, zero me.

I donít get it. If you can explain it and make sense, please do.

 

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