An ongoing theme that I’ve been noticing over the last week, and honestly something that I’ve keyed into for a while, is that frankly a lot of people don’t really seem to know what racism even is.
If they did, we wouldn’t keep hearing the same excuse over and over again – “I didn’t mean it in a racist way” or “My comment wasn’t intended to be racist…” The latter was the response given by the mayor of a small town in West Virginia after supporting the post of a county employee who wrote on Facebook, “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels.”
You know, because apparently West Virginia never got word that references to apes and monkeys have long since been established as ethnic slurs against black people.
Even earlier today I read a report quite literally from the local high school less than 5 miles down the street from my house where a white teacher said to a group of black students, “Don’t make me call Donald Trump and get you sent back to Africa.”
A high school teacher – someone who the community has trusted with teaching our children – doesn’t understand what racism is.
I get the impression that most people’s understanding of racism basically begins and ends at slavery and segregation, so anything that’s ever happened since the 1960’s can’t possibly fall into the same category – no jokes, no offhand comments, no words that they hear other races say that they can’t imagine why they can’t say them, too. These things are all said in jest and no harm is intended, so they can’t possibly be racist … and if they are, then it’s just the PC police pulling the race card to make everything about race.
Here’s a ProTip for you – If you don’t mean to be racist, then stop doing things that are racist! – it’s not complicated!!!
Making jokes about lynching the president … who’s black … happens to be racist.
Continuing to use racial slurs that anyone over the age of about 22 knows are racial slurs … is a racist thing to do.
There’s no excuse for this stuff. My oldest son is 2.5 years old and actively working on talking, and we already have to steer him away from saying words that are only for adults. As far as I’m concerned, once you’re old enough to have taken a history class or two, you should start to understand that racism is bad and as a society it’s something that we try to steer away from.
Because the thing is, I’d love to give these people the benefit of the doubt and say that “they just didn’t know!” but come on now. These people are nowhere near 22 years old – one is a high school gym teacher, the other is the director of a non-profit – they’re both old enough to know better. They just don’t want to.
Disappointingly, I have friends and family who use the same excuses and it’s absolutely cringeworthy every time, not only because they should know better, too, but also because I like to think of them as better people than that.
It’s not “political correctness,” it’s you behaving like a racist.
If you don’t want to be called a racist, then don’t act like one.