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The people you meet when you talk about race

Note: This article is cross-posted over at Racialicious.

If you’ve ever glanced at the links on the sidebar of this page, you may have noticed that I link to a *shudder* tumblr account. Yes, my guilty little pleasure is a fantastic tumblr called ‘STFUconservatives‘. It’s a sort of clearing house for random clips of stupidity that fall from the lips and fingers of conservative (mostly) Americans. Most of it is the kind of run-of-the-mill myopia and lack of critical thinking that I’ve grown accustomed to seeing from those on the right (and to be sure, there is a STFUliberals site – it’s somewhat less populated), but every now and then they put up little gems like this one:

The People You Meet When You Write About Rape

Mr. What About The Men
“The real problem here is all these false rape accusations that are destroying our society! 90 million men are falsely accused of rape every second! A woman just has to sort of mumble a word starting with ‘r’ and a man instantly gets a life sentence! There are no instances on record of a woman actually being raped!”

Ms. Tough Girl
“If women would learn martial arts–70-year-olds and women with disabilities can do this if they put their minds to it, darnit–and carry weapons everywhere, no one would ever get raped! All you have to do is be ready to threaten your own friends and lovers with lethal force at any moment, any anyone who can’t do that must be weak or something.”

There’s a list of 14 examples with a bit of snark sprinkled in for good measure. Now if this blog was a lot more popular, I’d get a lot more comments and thus would have a lot more examples to show you, but I’ll try and condense my few years of having these conversations into a similar list. And so, for your amusement, here are…

The People You Meet When You Write About Race

Mr. History
“Black people were enslaved like a million years ago. They’ve had enough time to  get their act together, but they’re still whining about their problems. I don’t want to hear about transgenerational wealth gaps and discriminatory hiring practices! Their problem is that they’re lazy! Case closed!”

Ms. Kumbayah
“We need to recognize that everyone is just the exact same on the inside. Why do we bother using labels like “black” and “white” anyway? Even though the way society treats people falls along racial lines to the detriment of some and benefit of others, we should ignore that! Aren’t we all just members of the human race?”

Mr. Hear No Evil
“It’s people like you that are the real racists! Most people don’t think twice about someone else’s race! Talking about race is what makes racism happen, not entrenched ideas that won’t change unless they’re discussed!”

Ms. Myopia
“I’m a black person, and I haven’t ever felt mistreated because of it. Therefore, nobody else has any business complaining about racism – I’m living proof that it doesn’t exist!”

Mr. Funk & Wagnalls
“Here is the dictionary definition of racism. You can see right here that it describes only one small subset of behaviour. You have no business advocating that the definition of a word change to fit a changed environment of racist behaviour, even if it still describes the old racism. You must adhere to this one definition always!”

Ms. Minimizer
“Sure, racism used to be a big problem, but there’s lots of black people in prominent positions these days. Can’t we stop talking about racism like it’s still a big issue? The President is black, and clearly nobody has any problem with that! Don’t we have more important things to talk about?”

Mr. Liberal White Guilt
“White people are the worst! You’re absolutely right. I am a white person, and I just feel so awful every time I hear about what my people are doing to yours. We need to start fixing the problems in the black community. After all, that’s what we do – go into other communities and solve their problems!”

Ms. Mythology Kook*
“White people are the worst! You’re absolutely right. I am sick and tired of watching the white man destroy us. It’s time to rise up and take to the streets. Until we show them that the black man is the original man, and that white people are an ancient genetic experiment to create a human being without a soul, we’ll never achieve true freedom.”

Mr. Bootstraps
“I’m so sick and tired of people talking about ‘white privilege’. My father was an immigrant from Switzerland, and he had to struggle just like everyone else to make money. His life was tough – you call that privilege? I didn’t get a handout from anyone, and neither should anyone else!”

Ms. Interpretation
“Affirmative action? Isn’t that just where white people aren’t allowed to have jobs because they’re all saved for less-qualified minorities? That’s just slavery but in the other direction – reverse slavery! My cousin knows a guy whose brother didn’t get into his first-choice college, possibly because of affirmative action – racism against white people is the biggest problem nowadays!”

Mr. Conspiracy
“Of course you’d say that – the NAACP has been pushing that lie since they were formed! This whole ‘anti-racism’ thing is just a way of taking white people’s hard-earned money and putting it into welfare programs and health care. It’s how black people are planning on getting reparations!”

Ms. Extraterrestrial
“You monkeys are just mad that you’re genetically inferior to our master race! Once our society, which was created by white people, shakes off this liberal brainwashing, we’ll finally be able to send you animals back to where you came from. Get over it – white people are just superior!”

But I would be remiss and completely unfair if I didn’t mention…

Mr./Ms. Has Been Listening
“This topic made me really uncomfortable when I first started talking about it, but I’m glad I did. I’m not sure if I ‘get’ everything, but my thinking has definitely changed. Here are some reasonable objections and questions that I have, and I hope we can talk about them without offending each other.”

I am really happy to report that while I have personally met all of the above people, Has Been Listening is by far my most common interaction. All of the above are conversations I relish having, and it is my fervent hope that I am slowly equipping you to navigate those waters as well as I could. As I’ve said all along, the more talking we do, the more we learn.

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*A commenter over at Racialicious has taken me to task for originally calling this “Ms. Black Nationalist Kook”. She was right to do so, since the attitude is orthogonal to Black Nationalism. I have made this revision, with an apology to my Nationalist sisters/brothers who I have mischaracterized.