I came across something the other day on social media that got me thinking. It was a simple stereotypical joke about a certain race. Nothing too intense. Nothing to write home about (although I'm doing that right now). Yet, for some reason, it really irked me. And I started questioning why it irked me so much. Which brings us to today's post about my thoughts on racism. Here we go:
I'm racist, your brother's racist, my uncle's racist, your neighbor's dog is racist, my left sneaker is racist. We're all racist, whether we like to admit it or not. That's just the way world turns and the cookie crumbles.
You might be sitting there thinking "But Erin, I'm really not racist." and I'm going to sit my stool down right next to you with a Miller Lite in hand and say "But you are racist, even if it's only a tiny bit." Because we have all at one point or another let our brains head down that dark road of stereotyping and that right there calls for racism. Even if we have no intention whatsoever of being that way.
It's instilled in us from the minute we're born. The places where we grow up, the books that we read, the songs that we listen to, the comedians that we watch. It's all there plain as day for all different races. Each group has their own views about each other group. So it's okay and only natural for humans to unintentionally think these things.
Whether it was when you headed to the community pool and saw the only African American kid of the bunch sitting on the edge and you assumed he couldn't swim. Or when you slammed on your brakes while driving down the freeway because the car in front of you decided to turn left when it's blinker said right and you automatically thought the driver must be an old Asian lady. Or maybe it was while you sat on the subway and smelled the stench of onions which caused you to look directly at the Indian dude four people down. Then again it also could have been the time you went to a night club and thought for sure the white girl couldn't twerk it as well as her black friend.
I'm guilty of all of these things, I admit it. I also admit that 99% of the population could twerk it better than me too, but that's beside the point.
The big thing for me and the way I live is that I know there's a HUGE difference between thinking racist thoughts and speaking racist thoughts. It's hard to not let your brain take you to that stereotypical land of crap.
The problem is when you act on them and make your views visible to the world and even worse, the group you're stereotyping. When you choose to utter the words out loud in public or tweet about the "joke" or write about it on your Facebook wall...that right there is the difference between being racist and being an ignorant asshole.
Yes, you could argue the point that there are times when it's "more okay" to be racist. Ie. when you're a comedian or when you're in a group with your close friends and family. But it's a very thin line to walk on because when it becomes a norm in your personal social settings it's sometimes hard to snap out of that same mindset in public social settings.
And that's why I try my best to leave it all behind wherever I am. Like when some of my old friends used to play a card game that involved choosing a black or red card out of the deck and the drawer was supposed to say the 'N' word for black cards and Indian for red cards. That's what the game was called, 'N' words and Indians. I refused to say the words and instead would say black or red. I never understood the point of needing to use the other terms and quite frankly thought it was disgusting when they used to try to get me to say it.
I also try to stay cognizant of the fact that using skin color to talk about someone isn't necessary either. It's really hard but at least I try. When telling a story about someone crossing the street who is of African American descent you really don't need to say "This black guy was crossing the street" just say "This guy was crossing the street". His color shouldn't matter. Just like when I instagrammed a story about some bitchy lady two days ago who gave me hell about walking the dog. She was African American but did I call her a bitchy black lady? Nope. She was just a bitchy lady. Because white, black, tan, yellow, green, pink, and polka dotted people can ALL be bitchy. It's as simple as that.
Now I'm really not trying to toot my own horn and say that I'm an angel when it comes to not being racist. I already admitted that my brain goes there and that I have my slip ups. And I'm also not saying that I'm going to slap you on the wrist or not be your friend if you do occasionally make racist remarks. I know plenty of people who do yet I still think they're great individuals. What I am saying is that I feel that we all need to be a little more aware that the actions which seem commonplace to us may be completely disrespectful to others.
It's not "cool" to say the 'N' word in a card game. It's not funny to tweet a stereotypical remark to 1,000 of your twitter followers. It's not necessary to use color when speaking about individuals. It's not right to judge people who have mixed relationships. But it IS cool and necessary and right to be mindful and make the effort to halt racism wherever possible.
And now I feel like I should be conducting a Sesame Street episode with a puppet attached to my hand teaching the youth of America. Today's episode was brought to you by the letter 'N'. Just make sure your vocabulary consists of fun words like nugget or nincompoop and not the other one. Happy Friday kids.