The Modern Face of Racism

funny or die house sxsw 2016
photo by Riley Blanks

When we hear the word racism, many of us think of derogatory terms, extreme hatred, and violent acts. We may be envisioning black and white pics from the 60’s of black people being mistreated in the streets. A great deal of us, myself included, had probably even at some point thought that we had come far enough to say that racism wasn’t really a day-to-day issue that people had to face. (Unless they really went looking for it.)

Well folks, unfortunately, those of us with that bright outlook on life were very, very wrong.

We live in a day and age where racism has changed so much, most people that are behaving in a racist manor, don’t believe they are in fact racist. When you actually look up the definition of racism, however, you are reminded that it is much more than derogatory terms, extreme hatred, and violent acts. It’s the belief that your race is superior to another. That’s it, plain and simple, but with much more weight.

You don’t have to outwardly say or do anything to be racist. All you have to have is the belief that someone of another race cannot amount to what you are, simply because of their race. Sadly, most of the time in our current world, that turns up in the work place. A lot of people aren’t considered to be hired, or kept on once they are. My guess is that their superiors are uncomfortable around them because of their race. Because they are “different”.

This may not make sense to some you, and you may be thinking to yourself, “That’s NOT racist!” It actually is though. If you are not comfortable being around someone because they don’t look like you and you can’t relate to them, enough so that you fire them or just don’t hire them, then you have some sort of belief that they are not equal to you. Be it in values, morals, competency, or normalcy (which what really is “normal”??), you feel they don’t add up to what you and the people with whom you feel most comfortable with

(most likely your own race) do.

Let’s face it, most people like being around what feels familiar, and what they’re used to. Not too many folks go out and pick the craziest color they can find, or most outrageous outfit they saw. Just think of how hard it is to get some friends to try a new food if they can’t tell what it is by looking at it. A lot of people have let this sort of thinking take over in every aspect of their life though!

“You don’t dress like me, you must not be able to do my job.”

“I don’t talk like that, you must not be as smart as me.”

“You don’t go through the same process to get ready in the morning as I do, you’re weird.”

This shit all sounds strange when you read like this, but take a step back and really examine what’s going on in your head when you meet or see someone that you can’t immediately relate to based on their looks. If you don’t like anything about what you’ve just discovered, stop and think about all the people in the world that aren’t as open-minded as you are.

Now can you see? Houston, we have a problem.

You Think You’re Cool and Accepting, Mixed People Think You’re an A$$#OLE.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation…

“So, are you black??”

“No, I’m mixed.”

“You have black in you?”

“Yep. Italian, German, Black, and Cherokee.”

“Oh, well then, you’re black.”

Don’t you think if it was the same thing, I would’ve just said yes?! What was the point of even asking if you were just going to correct me anyways? Look, I know your point of saying being mixed is the same thing as being black, is to prove that you are “cool” with black people, but it’s offensive. When someone takes the time to correct you, it’s because they don’t identify as black. Mixed kids get labeled as white by the black kids, and black as the white kids. We can’t check just one box.

Mixed kids may not have even grown up with all of their races in their household, so when you just assume they understand whatever racial stereotype you are talking/joking to them about, and they give you a blank stare, it’s because they’re thinking to themselves, “What an idiot!” For some reason, people feel the need to bring up racial stereotypes in a joking manner, to prove that they are not racist. In reality, all you are doing is proving that you do believe the stereotypes. That you’re not as open minded as you think you are.

I am the only one that’s mixed in my family. My siblings have a different biological father, who happens to be my dad, so we all grew up together. (If you’re confused by this, don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll have a blog on being a dad vs being a biological father one day…) Everyone else in our house is white. I am very close with my brother, he’s one of my best friends. I remember the first time he introduced me as his half sister. My heart sank into my stomach. We don’t call each other half brothers and sisters. He only did it because he was tired of people giving us the crazy look we get, and the “Wait…What??? Y’all are…???” questions. When I did the same thing with my sister, she felt I was rejecting her. It hurt her for years, until I was able to explain myself.

It’s hard enough not being like the rest of your family, without the outside opinions of all the “super excepting” assholes out there. If you do live in a house with both sides of your heritage, you are most certainly not going to want to only claim one half and completely ignore the other. Both sides have shown you love, so why shouldn’t you be able to claim both?

Stop giving people a hard time because they don’t want to do that. I’m going to say this again, stop trying to make people check one box.

If you really want to be cool and accepting, try getting to know someone…in a normal fashion. Ask them questions about where they’re from; what kind of music they like; what their favorite food is. Don’t just assume they listen to Tejano and love tamales, they may be half French and half Venezuelan. Or they could be half German and half Mexican, and happen to love tamales. If they do love tamales, ask them if their Mom makes them, and then invite yourself over for dinner! This is totally cool AND accepting.