Monday, December 28, 2015

Life - Racism, Hard Truth

Life - Racism, Hard Truth

Listen, if you ever say that you don't believe racism still exists, then I have a hard truth for you. You occupy a space in the world then that doesn't have to deal with, see, or otherwise have contact with racism. You live a life of privilege. You are also quite possibly without empathy, or also very, very stupid. You might be both.

Racism is less today about slurs and negative epitaphs, although those still exist as well. Racism is about how a group of people are finding ways to justify why it was appropriate to shoot a 12 year old black boy.

I use racist humor and language in my day to day experience with my closest friends. I use it not because I'm especially crass or stupid, but because I'm interested in highlighting for my predominantly Caucasian, Western peer group the difference of background, culture and prejudice I've had to live with while growing up, and now as a grown up. Almost all my adult friends are European. I know that my application of racial foibles and turn of phrase can be both hilarious, but also deeply uncomfortable. For much of my humor, I attempt to be quick-witted and draw sharp, pointed analogies between racial lines and ideas.

It doesn't always work, in fact I expect it rather approaches somewhere around the 50-50% mark, which is not ideal. But in a safe space of my friends, I like to think it is generally acceptable to experiment with.

In public, I do not tolerate racism. I don't tolerate discrimination of any form where possible, and will intervene almost unilaterally if able. I have called out strangers, acquaintances, professional co-workers and even those in positions of 'power' above me.

Having a hard no-tolerance rule in public about racism has cost me work. Has cost me projects. Has probably cost me more than a few relationships, both intimate and friendly.

That's something you don't think about very often, but it's true. I have taken a personal stand for a number of things because to me, they were the right thing to do.

I often wonder if my friends understand the difficulties of facing prejudice.

I often wonder if they are confused by my both cavalier attitude towards it, but also my hard line-in the sand stance.

I like to think I joke because if I didn't, I don't know if they would be confronted by the realities of racism and discrimination as much. I just don't think I'm that good at joking about it.